Guide Tour of the 14th arrondissement of Paris, France

The 14th arrondissement of Paris, also known as arrondissement of the Observatory, is one of the 20 arrondissements of the capital city of France. The 14th arrondissement is best known for its northeastern quartier Montparnasse, for the Paris Catacombs and the Parc Montsouris. The Cité Universitaire is also found in this district traditionally known for lively cafés and restaurants around the Boulevard du Montparnasse and the rue Daguerre. The Breton community is home to many artists arrived at the beginning of the 20th century.

The 14th arrondissement is one of the one of the largest Paris arrondissements. The variety of its cultural offer, the richness of its historical heritage and large green spaces are major assets for this dynamic and family district. Part of the history of Paris was written in the 14th arrondissement, testimony to this rich historical past are the many monuments that line the district. There’s quite a bit for travelers to explore in the 14th Arrondissement, from the Observatory of Paris to the Catacombs.

The 14th arrondissement is mainly a residential area, nearly 140,000 of Parisians live here and make full use of the shopping streets, the markets, the schools, and the parks. A district with a rich cultural heritage, except for a few scenic spots, the biggest feature of this area is the streets full of cultural and artistic history and full of life. The buildings in the district are known as the Parisian style, a unique combination of pastoral and bourgeois character.

The 14th arrondissement is characterized by village districts which have kept their authenticity over time, the history of this arrondissement comes from the old time, when the urbanization of Paris extended, it assimilated several small villages such as Petit Montrouge, the village of Pernety or the new village of Orléans which ended up forming, together, the 14th arrondissement. As the saying “Paris is a village”, each district has its nerve centers, its shopping streets and its quiet adjacent streets, its squares, its squares, and its terraces, favorite meeting places for local residents.

Quartier of Montparnasse
The Montparnasse district is the 53rd administrative district of Paris located in the 14th arrondissement, on the left bank of the Seine, south of the intersection of boulevard du Montparnasse and boulevard Raspail. The Montparnasse district includes the slopes of the eponymous hill, famous for the artistic effervescence that took place there during the Roaring Twenties.

In the 1960s, the proclaimed desire to make Montparnasse the business district of the Left Bank would change the face of this place steeped in history. With the increasing specialization of the districts of Paris, Montparnasse has become both an office and transit district during the day, and a leisure district in the evening, presenting a choice of cafés, cinemas and restaurants which has few equals.

The Les Montparnos gallery, opened in 2009 at 5, rue Stanislas, specializes in the School of Paris of the 1920s and the rediscovery of forgotten artists of Montparnasse painting from the interwar period. In the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, where amateur artists can still paint models, or the Adam Montparnasse painting equipment shop, are among the testimonies of the artistic center that was the district. Art lovers can also discover every Sunday on the La Création market the works exhibited and sold live by the artists; the market was moved from Place Jacques-Demy to Boulevard Edgar-Quinet. Plaques have also been affixed to certain buildings to recall the illustrious name of one of its inhabitants.

Quartier of Parc-de-Montsouris
The Parc-de-Montsouris district is the 54th administrative district of Paris located in the 14th arrondissement. The extension of Paris was first made along the old road to Gentilly and around the Sainte-Anne hospital, the creation of which dates back to 1651. The district is marked by the concentration of large-scale collective facilities: Sainte-Anne hospital, Montsouris park, Montsouris reservoir also called “Vanne reservoir”, Cité universitaire. It is also crossed by line B of the RER (former line of Sceaux ), which is overhead on almost the entire district.

The district very eclectic from an architectural point of view, is very representative of the 14th arrondissement. Haussmann buildings are concentrated on rue d’Alésia and avenue René-Coty, and are rather rare in the district. In addition to the traditional plaster facades, witnesses of the neighborhood’s working-class past (rue Saint-Yves, rue des Artistes ), there are a few suburban buildings, notably rue de l’Amiral-Mouchez. There are also large modern housing estates, due to the availability of land after World War II. We can mention the Méridien de Paris, rue Dareau, a vast structure from the 1960s, representative of the time.

A block in the district was completely built new in the early 2000s. A new road, the avenue de la Sibelle, was created there, as well as the rue Thomas-Francine, the rue de l’Empereur-Valentinien and the rue de l’Empereur-Julien, and a garden, the Marie-Thérèse-Auffray garden, created Individual housing is present in the district, especially to the west of Parc Montsouris, where the few villas drowned in greenery are snapped up at exorbitant prices.

Quartier of Petit-Montrouge
The Petit-Montrouge district is the 55th administrative district of Paris located in the 14th arrondissement. The district is known for the stocks of the rue d’Alésia, fashion stores with more or less attractive prices, concentrated in large numbers between the Alésia crossroads and the rue des Plantes. Remained until the 1960s a popular district, the district has since experienced a rise in its standard of living, like Paris in his outfit. It is particularly sought after today because of its quality of life, the many traders, the green spaces and its atypical architecture.

Began in the 1830s with the subdivision, the late urbanization of the district and the availability of land led to great architectural diversity. The center of this micro-district, the village of Orléans, was the current Place Michel-Audiard. You can see on this square a building in the Directoire style which was the former town hall annexed to Montrouge (44, rue Du Couédic ).

Collective housing is made up of buildings of all styles. Haussmannian buildings are not legion, the district not having been the subject of particular development under the Second Empire. They are found especially on the side of the town hall and the rue d’Alésia, the entirely Haussmannian streets, such as the rue du Lunain, being quite rare. The plaster facades are more numerous and testify to the popular past of the district. Buildings from the 1930s are more present in the south, especially in the old fortifications area. Finally, post-war architecture is also well represented, for better and for worse.

One of the characteristics of the neighborhood is the importance of individual housing. Many plots have only been built on the front, leaving room for townhouses or artists’ studios, often embellished with private gardens, invisible from the street. This type of construction is also found in cul-de-sacs (“villas”), sometimes with real architectural treasures.

Certain streets, such as rue Bezout, form an authentic architectural museum by offering the visitor a heterogeneous assembly collection of styles, sizes, periods of construction and volumes. It should also be noted the existence of many suburban buildings, prior to the annexation of 1860, with one or two floors, rare in the Parisian landscape, and concentrated in this district. Office property is virtually absent from this residential and commercial district, with the notable exception of the extreme south of the district, bordering the town of Montrouge.

The eastern sector of the district has recently been the subject of a pilot development, called “green district”, consisting mainly of reducing car traffic, encouraging non-polluting modes of travel and highlighting the plant heritage. This experience, subsequently extended to other districts of the capital, is received differently depending on the users (residents, motorists or shopkeepers, for example).

Quartier of Plaisance
The Plaisance district, the 56th administrative district of Paris, is located in the 14th arrondissement. From 1830, the beginnings of urbanization appeared along the Chaussée du Maine, the district remained aloof from Haussmannian developments but became denser with the construction of small buildings comprising cramped and uncomfortable accommodation. Many businesses, most of them small and medium-sized, set up there, particularly in the graphic arts and mechanics. The southern part of the district, was an unbuilt space in 1860, which was only urbanized from the 1880s until around 1930.

The 1960s and 1970s were marked by the Vercingétorix radial project, abandoned in 1974, for which a strip of land along the railway line was expropriated. What remains of this operation, also motivated by the renovation of an insalubrious district, the green corridor which runs along rue Vercingétorix and the railway line, and new buildings, in particular those around the Place de Catalunya.

Main Attractions
The 14th arrondissement of Paris is a very lively district of the capital, which has a wide choice of shops, well equipped in terms of school infrastructure and care, and with many green spaces.

Cobbled streets lined with pretty houses with colorful shutters and pretty courtyards where plants and flowers express themselves freely such as the impasse du Moulin vert, the villa Hallé, the rue des Thermopyles, the Cité Bauer, the villa Adrienne or even the hidden courtyard of 44 rue de l’Ouest reveal a bucolic district with the air of a small country town. The lovely place Flora Tristan with its hundred-year-old trees, a real place of life where families, young and old meet, throughout the day, is perfect for enjoying a drink on the terrace.

In the southern district around Montparnasse and Plaisance, the fresh products of the Bio Brancusi market or the Brune market as well as the pastries of the Paradis Gourmand delight the most gourmet. Good restaurants make the beautiful hours of the 14th arrondissement. Don’t miss the innovative cuisine of MoSuke by Mory Sacko, the specialties of the A Mi-Chemin restaurant, not to mention the menus provided by the many creperies on rue d’Odessa, a little piece of Brittany in Paris.

On the shopping side, the very lively Daguerre and Raymond Losserand streets, which criss-cross the 14th, line up with many food shops, florists, restaurants and bistro terraces. Art enthusiasts can stroll through the Parisian Creation Market which is held on Sundays, boulevard Edgar Quinet. Painting, engraving, sculpture, photography, collage, ceramics, painted silk… many artistic disciplines are represented there. Finally, for ethical purchases, head to Porte de Vanves in rue Prevost Paradol, which brings together several ecological and solidarity shops.

Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries in Paris, France, first excavated in the Roman period, which hold the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone quarries. One of the most eye-popping sights of Paris, the catacombs represent a network of labyrinthine tunnels. Extending south from the Barrière d’Enfer (“Gate of Hell”) former city gate, this ossuary was created as part of the effort to eliminate the city’s overflowing cemeteries.

Preparation work began shortly after a 1774 series of gruesome Saint Innocents-cemetery-quarter basement wall collapses added a sense of urgency to the cemetery-eliminating measure, and from 1786, nightly processions of covered wagons transferred remains from most of Paris’ cemeteries to a mine shaft opened near the Rue de la Tombe-Issoire.

The atmosphere is suitably morbid and gloomy (without being too scary), the dark tunnels containing neatly stacked piles of skulls and long bones. The ossuary remained largely forgotten until it became a novelty-place for concerts and other private events in the early 19th century; after further renovations and the construction of accesses around Place Denfert-Rochereau, it was opened to public visitation from 1874. Since 2013, the Catacombs number among the fourteen City of Paris Museums managed by Paris Musées.

Montparnasse Cemetery
Montparnasse Cemetery (French: Cimetière du Montparnasse) is a cemetery in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris, in the city’s 14th arrondissement. The cemetery is roughly 47 acres and is the second largest cemetery in Paris. The cemetery contains 35,000 plots and is the resting place to a variety of individuals including political figures, philosophers, artists, actors, and writers. Additionally, in the cemetery one can find a number of tombs commemorating those who died in the Franco-Prussian war during the siege of Paris (1870–1871) and the Paris Commune (1871).

The burial place of existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, feminist Simone de Beauvoir (both of whom lived nearby); musician Serge Gainsbourg; artist Man Ray; the poets Charles Baudelaire, Guy de Maupassant, Charles Sainte-Beuve, and Marguerite Duras; the founders of the Theatre of the Absurd Samuel Becket and Eugene Ionesco; the sculptors Constantin Brancusi and Ossip Zadkine; the composers Camille de Saint-Saens and César Franck; the actors Maria Montez and Jean Seberg; the French officer Alfred Dreyfus; the founder of the Larousse encyclopedia, Pierre Larousse; the industrialist André Citroen, and many others.

Port-Royal Abbey
Port-Royal Abbey was an abbey in Paris that was a stronghold of Jansenism. It was first built in 1626 to relieve pressure of numbers on the mother house at Port-Royal-des-Champs. Today its main cloister (illustration) forms part of the modern Hôpital Cochin.

Lion of Belfort
Lion of Belfort, Place Denfert-Rochereau. This is a bronze replica in smaller scale of a monument created by Bartholdi, the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty, in order to commemorate Denfert-Rochereau, who defended the city of Belfort in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. The lion symbolizes the heroic French resistance during the Siege of Belfort, a 103-day Prussian assault (from December 1870 to February 1871). The city was protected from 40,000 Prussians by merely 17,000 men (of whom only 3,500 were from the military) led by Colonel Denfert-Rochereau.

Gate of Hell
Barrière d’Enfer (Gate of Hell), a pair of tollhouses that once served as a gate through the Wall of the Farmers-General. The two pavilions were built in 1784 to 1787 by the French architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, who erected many similar toll houses at the entrances to the city. The Barrière consists of two identical buildings on either side of the Avenue du Colonel-Henri-Rol-Tanguy, which is itself located along the axis of the Avenue Denfert-Rochereau and Avenue du Général-Leclerc. The entrance to the Catacombs of Paris is located next to building No. 1.

Cultural space
The 14th arrondissement has always been a district very popular with artists and craftsmen. The painters Pablo Picasso and Yves Klein, the muse and model Kiki de Montparnasse, the photographers Man-Ray and Eugène Atget and many others made it their home. Many people wanted to live there and set up their studios there, particularly in the Rue Campagne Première, Rue Delambre and Rue Cassini, as well as in the artist cities of Villa d’Alésia and Villa Seurat. This merry band made the beautiful hours (day and night) of the famous brasseries La Coupole or Le Dôme. The alley of the worker’s castleis still bordered today by artists’ studios. It is in Alésia that the painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti set up his modest studio.

Another site dedicated to culture: the elegant annex town hall from the 14th century, in the 1930s style, remarkable for its sculpted bas-reliefs and stained glass window, presents temporary exhibitions and art fairs throughout the year. The House of amateur artistic practices installed in the former boiler room of the Broussais hospital makes art accessible to all. This place of creative expression, which is a dance studio, theater hall, workshop and exhibition space, is open to budding artists with a passion for graphic and visual arts.

The 14th arrondissement also gives pride of place to live shows thanks to its many theaters and performance halls located in particular in the very lively district of the Montparnasse tower. Rue de la Gaîté alone houses the Théâtre de la Gaîté Montparnasse, where Maurice Chevalier and Juliette Gréco began their careers, the Théâtre Rive Gauche, the Théâtres Montparnasse and Petit Montparnasse, the Comédie Italienne and Bobino. Further on the edge of the 14th, the 14 th theatre, which had a facelift in 2020, is run by a young team that breathes new life into theatrical creation.

Paris Observatory
The Paris Observatory, a research institution of the Paris Sciences et Lettres University, is the foremost astronomical observatory of France, and one of the largest astronomical centers in the world. Its historic building is on the Left Bank of the Seine in central Paris, but most of the staff work on a satellite campus in Meudon, a suburb southwest of Paris. Through the centuries the Paris Observatory has continued in support of astronomical activities, and in the 21st century connects multiple sites and organizations, supporting astronomy and science, past and present.

The Paris Observatory was founded in 1667. Construction was completed by the early 1670s and coincided with a major push for increased science, and the founding of the Royal Academy of Sciences. King Louis XIV’s minister of finance organized a “scientific powerhouse” to increase understanding of astronomy, maritime navigation, and science in general. The observatory was erected by Claude Perrault from 1667 to 1672 by order of Colbert. The building is oriented to the four cardinal directions. It is crossed in the centre by the Paris meridian (2° 20′ 14″ east of Greenwich).

Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation
The Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation (French: Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson), also known as Fondation HCB, is an art gallery and non-profit organisation in Paris that was established to preserve and show the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Martine Franck, and show the work of others. It was set up in 2003 by the photographer and painter Cartier-Bresson, his wife, also a photographer, Franck, and their daughter, Mélanie Cartier-Bresson. The Foundation hosts four solo exhibitions per year by a variety of photographers, painters, sculptors, and illustrators.

Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art
The Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, known simply as the Fondation Cartier, is a contemporary art museum located at 261 boulevard Raspail in the 14th arrondissement of the French capital, Paris. A museum of contemporary art. It was founded in 1984 by the well-known jewel and watch manufacturer, Cartier. In 1994 it moved to the new building erected on plans of the architect Jean Nouvel. The museum displays exhibits of contemporary and international artists, and currently contains over 1500 works by more than 350 artists.

Its collections include monumental works such as The Monument to Language by James Lee Byars, Caterpillar by Wim Delvoye, Backyard by Liza Lou, La Volière (The Aviary) by Jean-Pierre Raynaud, and Everything that Rises Must Converge by Sarah Sze; works by contemporary French artists including Vincent Beaurin, Gérard Garouste, Raymond Hains, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Alain Séchas, Pierrick Sorin, Jean Giraud; and works by foreign artists including James Coleman (Ireland), Thomas Demand (Germany), Alair Gomes (Brazil), William Kentridge (South Africa), Bodys Isek Kingelez (the Congo), Guillermo Kuitca (Argentina), Yukio Nakagawa (Japan), Huang Yong Ping (China), and Damian Pettigrew (Canada).

Natural space
The 14th arrondissement is perfect for a green getaway in the heart of the city thanks to its many green spaces.

Montsouris Park
Parc Montsouris is a public park situated in southern Paris, France. Located in the 14th arrondissement, it was officially inaugurated in 1875 after an early opening in 1869. Parc Montsouris, boul Jourdan (RER Cité-Universitaire). Considered one of the most colourful Parisian parks, created by Emperor Napoleon III and his prefect of the Seine, Georges-Eugène Haussmann, at each of the cardinal points of the compass around the city, in order to provide green space and recreation for the rapidly growing population of Paris.

The park is 15.5 hectares in area, designed as an English landscape garden by Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand. A large man-made lake and waterfalls are surrounded by long stretches of gently sloping lawns. Bronze statues are to be found studding the grounds, amongst the 1,400 trees, including such exotic varieties as the giant sequoia and the ginkgo, as well as many notable varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers. It is also home to a meteorology station, a cafe and a guignol theatre. The roads of the park are popular with joggers on weekends.

International university city of Paris
Cité internationale universitaire de Paris (CiuP, Cité U) is a private park and foundation located in Paris, France. Since 1925, it has provided general and public services, including the maintenance of several dozen residences housing around 6,000 students and visiting academics in the Île-de-France region. It has been officially recognized as a foundation of public interest since then. The Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris promotes, in a spirit of tolerance, exchanges between students from around the world.

The C.I.U.P. is a student quarter, providing homes for about 10,000 students, scientists, and artists from 120 countries. It has 40 houses attributed to individual nations. The individual houses organise top quality cultural and political events. Among the most remarkable buildings are the Fondation Deutsch de la Meurthe, the Heinrich Heine House (Maison Heinrich Heine – Fondation de l’Allemagne), the Swedish Student House (Maison des Etudiants Suédois), and the Swiss Pavilion (Pavillon Suisse) which was built in 1933 on plans of Le Corbusier.

The Cité Universitaire, campus of the universities of Paris has 35 hectares of green spaces open to the general public. A huge green setting where you can admire some forty pavilions with different architecture inspired by styles from around the world. Two buildings in particular were designed by Le Corbusier: the Maison du Brésil and the Swiss Foundation. Guided tours are organized there regularly. An atypical place to treat yourself to a world tour without leaving Paris.

The Petite Ceinture
This old railway line offers a bucolic walk in the heart of abundant vegetation that has regained its rights. It is accessible by 124 avenue du Général Leclerc behind the restaurant Le Poinçon installed in one of the disused stations or opposite 96 bis rue Didot.