The first arrondissement is home to some of Paris’s most iconic sites: the Louvre, Palais Royal, rue de Rivoli and the Tuileries Gardens. The best way to describe this arrondissement is commercial. Whether it is shopping, eating or local business – the atmosphere follows the chain-brand, 5th avenue in New York, Zara/H&M/Starbucks/McDo feel. While the streets are clean and shopping is abundant, the nightlife may seem lacking and is saturated with tourists. Then again, hugging the Seine like a glove, the 1st arrondissement boasts some of the best picnicking hotspots with its photo-perfect surroundings and old Paris charm.
The 1st Arrondissement is lively, central and full of hidden secrets. With its grande boulevards (thanks Napoleon) and its smaller winding streets, the 1st offers an exception experience. While living by the Louvre is impractical and expensive (unless you take a “Chambre de Bonne” which we discuss here), there are some affordable and great spots for students.
>Most of the buildings follow the Haussman standard – around 7 stories, 19th-20th century with elevators, extravagant facades, spacious stairways and beautiful French windows. Don’t forget that you are close to her majesty, the Seine, not to mention the Louvre, Palais Royal and the best Japanese food in Paris.
The 1st is home to shops of all kinds – mostly commercial in nature (see the 7th for boutiques!). Whether you are in the mood for trying on clothes or buying electronics, you can find it in the first. Closer to the Louvre there are an abundance of jewelers and high end fashion nestled around the long list of high-end hotels catering to the international tourists. Can you speak English? Sure, but is that why you came to France?
Transport may be the biggest selling point. As the central hub for the Parisian Métro, Chatelet (the big big big station) provides access to every corner of Paris within 20 minutes.
The downside is what the Métro occasionally brings to the area. In the Chatelet area of the 1st, it is one of those “keep your hand on your wallet” types of places. Although, the noise is compensated by the increase in local bars’ happy hour specials and posh nightclubs.
Rent and all that other “Important Stuff”
The first ain’t cheap! For a decent studio, don’t plan on getting away with anything less than 800 Euros a month (without the charges)! If you are keen on living in the first, colocations (living in a group) is the way to go. Unfortunately, as a foreigner, convincing a landlord to allow a 1 year colocation might be difficult. In Chatelet, it is possible to find some bon marchés (good deals) and you benefit from being in the bar district and only a stone throw from the wonders of the 4th. Your best bet is to be well prepared with all your docs (see the Red Tape section) and do your hunting through classified adds like Particulier à Particulier and Le Bon Coin (read more on our Apartment Hunting Page).