When most people think about western Paris, they picture iconic landmarks like the stately-- but rather overcrowded and hectic-- Avenue des Champs-Elysées, or the Eiffel Tower and the admittedly rather desolate, touristy neighborhood that surrounds it. You don't necessarily get the sense that the west is the most vibrant spot in the French capital.
Yet the 16th arrondissement (district) is one of the west's most pleasant-- and quietly charming-- areas, and is certainly worth a visit.
Boasting elegant residential neighborhoods with stately old houses and pretty-as-a-picture art-deco buildings, fine restaurants, world-class museums (both big and small), famous stadiums and leafy parks, there's plenty here to explore. It may be more than a little posh-- but that doesn't mean it's boring, or lacking in vibrancy and culture.
Historically one of the city's most affluent areas, this right-bank district was once home to famous residents including the writers Marcel Proust (for whom a street is named in the area) and Honoré de Balzac (you can visit his house and the adjoining museum-- an entirely free treat for French literature fans).
Many other excellent museums can be found in the 16th, too. From larger institutions such as the Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris, the Marmottan-Monet Museum (a real gem for fans of the impressionist painter), to small collections such as crystal collection at the Musee Baccarat, there's plenty in store here for arts and culture aficionados.
In short, when you want some reprieve from the hustle and bustle of central Paris, a morning or afternoon in the 16th is the perfect way to unwind and explore at a more leisurely pace.
Getting There and Getting Around
One of the city's largest districts, the 16th stretches across a wide swathe of Paris' northwestern border, and is situated on the right bank of the Seine.
It hugs the vast, leafy park known as the Bois de Boulogne, and the affluent suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine.
To get to the 16th, take line 1 or 9 on the Paris metro to the Les Sablons, Passy, or Trocadero stops. Most of the main tourist attractions in the area are in close distance of these main stops, and there are also ample opportunities for more spontaneous, gorgeous strolls through residential areas, especially from the Passy stop on line 9.
Map of the 16th Arrondissement: View map here
Main Tourist Attractions in the 16th Arrondissement
- Passy neighborhood (quiet and leafy, with many secretive passageways and charming streets)
- Passy Cemetery (one of the city's most beautiful old cemeteries, and a great place to stroll)
- Palais de Tokyo (an important hub for contemporary art in Paris)
- Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (another important site for modern art)
- Musée Marmottan Monet (featuring work from the famed Claude Monet)
- Maison de Balzac (this cute museum features Balzac's original office furniture, and an archive)
- Fondation Le Corbusier
- Fondation Louis Vuitton: (this new arts center is housed in a gorgeous building from architect Frank Gehry)
- Jardin d'Acclimation (a sprawling garden and amusement park for children: recommended for a day out with the family)
- Parc des Princes (stadium and concert venue)
- Roland-Garros Stadium (home to the famed tennis championship)
- Maison de Radio France (an impressive building overlooking the Seine; radio concerts are often recorded here)
- Musée Baccarat (see a fine collection from the eponymous crystal maker)
- Palais Galliera (fashion fans will love the permanent collection on fashion history)
- Musée Clemenceau (a historic site dedicated to the writer and French statesman Georges Clemenceau)
Eating Out in the 16th
The 16th is a prime spot for fine dining in Paris: it houses numerous acclaimed Michelin-starred restaurants, including Le Pré Catelan and Astrance, and newer addresses, such as Etude and Kura, that have generated a good amount of buzz.
More of a "street-side taster"? This area is also chock-full of excellent bakeries, local markets, chocolate shops, and gourmet traiteurs. See suggestions for restaurants and gourmet goodies in the area at Paris by Mouth.
Read related: Top 11 Gourmet French Restaurants in Paris
Nightlife Spots I Recommend In the Area
This is admittedly not the most vibrant spots for a night out, but the area harbors elegant bars such as Molitor, a rooftop bar remodeled from an old swimming pool, and referenced in "Life of Pi"-- (8 avenue de la Porte Molitor); you might also want to try a night of tapas, wine or sangria at the warm, latin-themed Casa Paco (13 rue Bassano, Metro Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile)
Where to Stay in This District?
As an upwardly mobile area, the 16th is admittedly one of the more expensive districts to hang your hat in. I definitely advise against most hotels around Trocadero: it can be very noisy along the broad avenues that surround it, and it's generally quite pricey in the environs, too. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course.
One hotel I can personally recommend that offers more reasonable rates is the three-star Gavarni Hotel near Passy (read my review). For those ecologically conscious travelers out there, you'll be pleased to know that the Gavarni is accredited as an "eco-friendly" hotel.
To find the perfect hotel in the area and read about hotels in the 16th enjoying top ratings with visitors, see this page at TripAdvisor (read reviews and book direct).