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Paris 1st district

With two or three others this is, with its Roman Palace on the Ile de la Cite, not only the Paris of Antiquity but also Royal Paris with the Palais du Louvre. It is also a district full of contrasts: the difference is striking between old rue de La Petite Truanderie and sumptuous Place Vendôme, as it is between the “Fontaine des Innocents” and the somewhat less romantic Forum des Halles! Fortunately the sumptuous Tuileries gardens, Palais Royal and Faubourg St Honoré bear witness to the sixteenth to eighteenth century, while the eastern area in the district takes us back to “old” Paris enclosed by Philippe Auguste some eight centuries before.

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Paris 2th district

Unquestionably the smallest of the capital’s districts, some may say presenting little uniformity, the second district is an economic crossroads: the stock market, financial headquarters, the printed media, as well as tourism and cultural hubs are here. Crossed by the Charles V wall, replaced in the seventeenth century by rue de Cléry and rue d’Aboukir, the district has an area to the east which was ripped apart when Baron Haussmann created rue Réaumur but which has nonetheless preserved an “old” atmosphere. To the west is "modern and active" nineteenth century Paris with the Stock Exchange, the National Library, theatres and prestigious neighbourhoods, among them Avenue de l'Opera and Rue de la Paix. Not forgetting the boulevards, hubs for tourism and night life in the capital.

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Paris 3th district

The 3rd District corresponds with the "Marais" as it was defined from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, despite the fact that the extensive swamps (a branch of the Seine in prehistoric times) from which it gets its name were in fact considerably larger. Today, both the 3rd and 4th districts are known as the Marais. Several ecclesiastical buildings, among them St Martin des Champs and the formerly extensive Temple, brought many settlers here. From the sixteenth century on superb private mansions were built, among them the Hôtel de Guise and the Hôtel Carnavalet for example. To the east an ambitious project known as “Place de France” was conceived by Henri IV, but never constructed. 

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Paris 4th district

With world-famous landmarks such as Place des Vosges, Notre-Dame Cathedral and Ile St Louis Island, this is one of the capital’s most beautiful districts, although some may argue that the Pompidou Centre is an eyesore that has disfigured the north-west. The Place de Greve, for many years the centre of “old” Paris, is today Place de l'Hotel de Ville. To the east this borders the St Gervais and St Paul neighbourhoods, among the oldest in the city. In the seventeenth century two islets were joined together to create the Ile St. Louis. One of the most peaceful and undoubtedly delightful areas in the capital, it is along with picture-postcard Place des Vosges also one of the most keenly sought-after. The latter, opened in 1605 and until the early 19th century known as Place Royale, has remained more or less in its original state and is unquestionably one of the most beautiful places in the city.

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Paris 8th district

Although this district had a past history, it did not develop and gain its renown until the nineteenth century. Until then it was an immense fertile expanse of land where market gardeners produced food for Parisians, and with just a few little villages (Le Roule, Ville l’Eveque...). It was crossed by very long, poorly maintained and ill-famed tracks which led to the west and Versailles: the Cours La Reine, the Champs-Elysees. These were not significantly developed until the Empire period when Place Louis XV became Place de la Concorde. During the nineteenth century the neighbourhood teemed with theatres, restaurants and concert halls... St Lazare station, today one of the capital’s six terminus railway stations, opened in 1837 some 200 metres from its current location. Although the Elysee Palace dates back to 1718, it was not until 1871 that it became the presidential residence. Near Monceau village, a magnificent and extensive garden was designed by the Duc de Chartres (Philippe-Egalité) at the end of the 18th century. Although this is significantly smaller today, the surrounding neighbourhood remains one of the most sought after in Paris.

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Paris 11th district

Until the 17th century, this was all basically marshland and hindered development of the city towards the east. Belleville and Ménilmontant villages were located a short distance away (in what is now the 20th arrondissement), and only the Faubourg St Antoine had significantly developed around St Antoine des Champs Abbey.  Otherwise the area was scattered with vineyards, little streams (Ménilmontant for example), a few little villages (Popincourt, La Roquette, Charonne, La Courtille...) and some basic roads: among them the future rue Oberkampf which led to Ménilmontant, and the future rue du Chemin Vert which led to the Annonciades convents. Although the sinister 14th century prison had been razed to the ground in 1789, around Bastille was bustling and particularly during the July Revolution in 1830, the 1848 Revolution and during the “la Commune” fighting. With the arrival of numerous factories in the area, the 11th district developed and was embellished during the nineteenth century. Today, the district’s different neighbourhoods have developed around the old villages, explaining to some extent its somewhat provincial atmosphere. Industry and manufacturing still exist here and there, and neighbourhoods are to some extent “working class” in the positive sense of the term.

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Paris 12th district

With origins dating back to the sixth century, the “rue de Charenton” has modelled this district over the centuries. Reuilly village, St Antoine abbey, and Picpus, St Mandé and Bercy hamlets grew from here. From the late fifteenth century, the area changed significantly and thanks to Colbert (Minister of Finances from 1661 to 1683 under the rule of Louis XIV) manufacturing developed here. Follies and convents also appeared at this time. Baron Haussmann later designed Boulevard Diderot and Avenue Daumesnil, while Adolphe Alphand developed the Bois de Vincennes. These were to lay the foundations for what was described in the 1960’s as a "district that is residential in some areas, working class in others, with shops lining the streets, workshops in its courtyards, and immense stretches of railway lines and buildings making up one of the world’s largest railway stations, the Gare de Lyon ". Despite developments that are currently transforming some of the 12th district’s neighbourhoods, this description remains true today.

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Paris 16th district

Enclosed in a meander of the Seine, this district was until the early 19th century similar to much of the Ile-de-France countryside, that is to say essentially comprising little villages (Chaillot, Passy and Auteuil) surrounded by crops, vineyards and hillocks. Grand "country mansions" were built and the Bois de Boulogne (formerly known as Rouvray forest) which initially covered the whole area was gradually reduced to its current 850 hectares.

Chaillot, situated at the foot of a hillock, bordered a track which is today rue de Longchamp; the “Minimes” (Order of Minims) occupied Bonshommes monastery, while the Savonnerie, a royal carpet manufacture, sat on the site now occupied by the Palais de Tokyo. Auteuil boasted several of the west of the capital’s most prestigious residences:  the Galpin residence (now JB Say High School), the Boileau residence, the Le Coq residence and Château Boufflers (now known as Villa Montmorency). Passy, ​​laid out around Grande Rue (today rue de Passy), boasted an extensive and particularly sumptuous chateau (de Boulainvilliers) which at the time extended from the current Maison de la Radio to Avenue Mozart.

Despite the gradual disappearance of the meadows and country mansions, despite being annexed to Paris in 1860, despite development during the Second Empire (the Delessert estate, Trocadero Palace, Boileau hamlet, Villa Montmorency ....), these three old villages nonetheless preserved a "country atmosphere in Paris",  and are keenly sought after today.

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Paris 17th district

The Mousseaux area (Monceau) is first noted in 862 in a charter drawn up by Charles le Chauve. Later it was here that Joan of Arc assembled her troops before heading along the chemin d’Argenteuil (today rue de Lévis and rue du Rocher) to liberate Paris on September 8th, 1429. Four centuries later under the reign of Charles X Monceau village with its castle became Batignolles-Monceau. Long before, during the reign of Francois I, a chateau had also been built in Ternes village. It is memorable that on his return from Varennes King Louis XVI passed via Monceau.

During the Restoration period in the early 19th century hamlets developed and subsequently the first town hall appeared at number 54 Boulevard des Batignolles. The major Haussmannian development nonetheless spared a number of properties built between 1820 and 1850, giving some neighbourhoods the feel of an "urban village".

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