Though less touristic than most of Paris’ other districts (which are known as arrondissements in French), the 14th arrondissement remains nonetheless a great place to head to if you’re looking to go a little off the beaten path and want to see some lesser known sites that the French capital has to offer. Here’s an insider’s guide to the best of Paris’ 14th Arrondissement.
- Where is the 14th arrondissement?
- Things to do in the 14th arrondissement
- Paris catacombs
- Montparnasse Cemetery
- Vanves Flea Market
- Rue des Thermopyles
- Rue Daguerre
- Square de Montsouris
- Observatory of Paris
- Notre Dame du Travail
- Jardin des Colonnes
- The Lion of Denfert-Rouchereau
- Parc Montsouris
- Rue des Artistes
- Passage d’Enfer
- Edgar Quinet Market
- Fondation Cartier
- Remnants of the Medici Aqueduct
- Mairie du XIV (14th arrondissement town hall)
- The Oldest Urinal in Paris
- Jardin Atlantique
- Where to eat in the 14th arrondissement
Where is the 14th arrondissement?
The 14th arrondissement of Paris is located in the South of the city on the left bank (rive gauche in French). Nestled between the 13th and 15th arrondissements, to the North visitors will find the 5th and 6th arrondissements. In total, there are 20 districts of Paris.
The 14th is best-known for being the location of the touristy part of the Paris Catacombs. The most famous part of this Parisian arrondissement is Montparnasse (the area to the North) and it’s here where you’ll find most of the well-frequented bars and restaurants in the quartier.
Visitors should note that while the 14th arrondissement contains part of the Montparnasse area, the most famous monument in the district is that of Montparnasse Tower, which is actually classed as being in the 15th arrondissement. Purchase your Montparnasse Tower here in advance.
Things to do in the 14th arrondissement
Hands down, the most popular thing to do in the 14th arrondissement is the Paris catacombs. When it comes to the French capital’s underground, the most famous of Paris’ underground complex is probably the tunnels and former limestone quarries which are collectively known as the catacombs.
This underground network tell the secret story of Paris: that of WWII resistance fighters, those cultivating mushrooms deep beneath the city, and of course, an underground city of the dead. Today, around 1.5 km worth of tunnels are open to the public. Purchase your Paris Catacombs ticket here in advance.
Lying in the shadow of Tour Montparnasse, the cemetery of the 14th arrondissement has been used for interments since the first half of the 19th-century. One of the more unusual Paris facts is that, despite most visitors to Paris heading to Père-Lachaise to see famous burials, there are also several in Montparnasse.
Some of the most famous people buried in Montparnasse Cemetery, which is a staggering 47 acres in size, are the musician Serge Gainsbourg, the poet Charles Baudelaire, and Simone de Beauvoir, who is buried next to Jean-Paul Sartre.
Vanves Flea Market
If you’re searching for a great French brocante, then you may well want to pay a visit to the Vanves flea market, which is known as the Puces de Vanves in French. The flea market takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 7AM to 2 PM.
The best thing about visiting flea markets is that you never quite know what you’ll find next. from vintage clothing to antiquarian books and even old furniture, there’s all manner of treasures to be discovered. Just be sure to bring some cash along with you as most vendors don’t accept card.
Rue des Thermopyles
One of the coolest things about the lesser-known districts of Paris is that there are little micro-arrondissements of the city which are collectively known as the ‘villages of Paris‘. These little pockets of calm are like small villages in the heart of the city.
One of the best to visit in the 14th arrondissement of Paris is that of rue des Thermopyles, which can be found close to Pernety métro station (on line 13). Rue des Thermopyles is 280 metres in length and stretches between 32, rue Didot and 87, rue Raymond-Losserand.
Today, the street is a rarity in Paris on account that it’s paved with large cobblestones (as opposed to the smaller hand-sized variety found in locations such as Montmartre). The street also features buildings which are two and three storeys as opposed to the typical Parisian six and seven floors.
Much like the largely pedestrianised street of rue Montorgueil in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, rue Daguerre can be found close to the Denfert-Rouchereau métro stop and is filled with delicious eateries. Cuisine from around the world can be found at the many stalls and shops along the street and there’s also a number of independent wine stores where you can purchase vin from around l’Hexagone.
Square de Montsouris
Yet another delightful micro-arrondissement in the 14th arrondissement is that of Square de Montsouris, a tiny little residential road which boasts ivy-clad houses and homes which are constructed in an architectural style which is different from the typical Haussmannian style of Paris.
The ‘square’ is actually a 200-meter long road. Fully cobbled and packed with art deco and art nouveau architecture, the greenery of the place creates an atmosphere which feels quite like the road is an extension of the nearby Parc Montsouris itself.
Observatory of Paris
Once upon a time, visitors to the 14th arrondissement were able to visit the Observatory of Paris (known in French as the ‘Observatoire de Paris’) and take the two-hour or so tour to explore the history behind the 17th-century established observatory.
Though the observatory is unfortunately currently closed to the public due to renovations, it exterior can still be admired via its exterior. One of the largest astronomical centres in the world, the observatory was founded in 1667 and is constructed in the Baroque architectural style.
Notre Dame du Travail
Constructed in 1902 during the time of the Universal Exhibition of Paris on the nearby Champ de Mars, the interior of Notre Dame du Travail is all metal framework, a lattice lacework of iron. Also worth noting is that the church’s main clock was taken as a war trophy by Napoleon III following the Battle of Sebastopol in 1854.
Jardin des Colonnes
Literally translated as the ‘Garden of Columns’, the park was created from plans by architect Ricardo Bofill. His typical style is apparent in the theatrical nature of the building, as well as its uniqueness. Jardin des Colonnes was created in 1986 and then renovated in 1998.
The Lion of Denfert-Rouchereau
During one of my first visits to the 14th arrondissement with my boyfriend, we met up at the métro station of Denfert-Rouchereau. Though I didn’t know it during my first trips to the 14th arrondissement, the nearby lion in the heart of the road is actually pretty famous.
Known as the Lion de Belfort, the sculpture stands at 4 metres high and was created by Auguste Bartholdi, the very same man who designed the Statue of Liberty. Incidentally, there are several replicas of the Statue of Liberty dotted across Paris, though unfortunately none of them can be found in the 14e.
A charming green space that’s perfect for picnics during the summer months and perfect for spying fall foliage in Paris during the autumn, Parc Montsouris even boasts a small piece of the Petite Ceinture, a former railway which once encircled Paris and was abandoned during the 20th-century in favour of the more efficient metro.
Parc Montsouris was established in 1875 as a public park and is one of the four largest public parks in the French capital. Some of the more interesting features of the park include a waterfalls, large lawns, a guignol theatre, and countless species of trees and flowers.
Rue des Artistes
One of my favourite hidden gems of the 14th arrondissement is that of rue des Artistes, a delightful road that’s home to candy coloured houses similar to those of rue Cremieux. The road is named thanks to the fact that it’s home to former artists’ residences and ateliers and it today where you’ll find plenty of colourful façades which are perfect for snapping photos!
Yet another delightful street in the 14th arrondissement of Paris is that of Passage d’Enfer. Dating back to the middle of the 19th-century,
Edgar Quinet Market
Twice a week, so on Wednesdays and Sundays, there’s a local market where residents of the 14th district head to in order to purchase amazing French food such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Unlike some of the other marchés in Paris, Marché Edgar Quinet also sells flea market goods so you never know what kind of vintage wars you’ll discover next.
One of the lesser-known modern art museums in Paris is that of Fondation Cartier, which was established in 1984. As well as showcasing contemporary well-known artists, the foundation also gives the opportunity to young and up and coming artists to display their work to the world.
Remnants of the Medici Aqueduct
Though lots of the architecture of the 14e arrondissement is more modern in style, one of the older and more interesting pieces of history can be found in the form of what’s left of the Medici Aqueduct.
Located close to the Denfert-Rouchereau station, in the grounds of Hospital La Rochefoucauld Ap-Hp, this spot is only worth visiting if you’re in the area as you shouldn’t go out of your way to visit. After all, the remnants of the medieval aqueduct can only be spied through a fence!
Mairie du XIV (14th arrondissement town hall)
One of the more grandiose buildings in the 14th arrondissement is that of the town hall. Situated close to the Mouton-Duvernet metro station (on line 4), the building was constructed between 1852-1858. Today, the mairie is used for administrative purposes.
The Oldest Urinal in Paris
One ‘hidden gem’ of the 14th arrondissement that is likely not to everyone’s taste is that of the Oldest Urinal in Paris, which is known in French as the Dernière vespasienne de Paris in French. Set along the otherwise nondescript Boulevard Arago on the fringes of the 14th arrondissement, this is the last of the grand ‘pissoirs’ of Paris.
Once upon a time, there would have been well over a thousand of the vespasiennes in Paris. This little-used word is used to denote a public urinal for men, though has fallen out of favour in lieu of terms such as ‘pissoir’ and ‘pissotière’.
The design of this particular pissoir dates back to 1871 and was constructed so that it could allow two people to relieve themselves simultaneously, as well as allow for advertising space. Though a little run down these days, the vespasienne can be found at 75 Boulevard Arago.
One particular hidden gem of both the 14th and 15th arrondissement that I discovered quite by accident a few months ago when strolling around the area with my boyfriend is that of the Jardin Atlantique.
An elevated green space on the rooftop of Gare Montparnasse, this tranquil area is home to a number of smaller subdivided ‘themed’ gardens. The border between the 14th and 15th actually passes straight through the middle of the garden, firmly placing it in both Parisian districts.
Where to eat in the 14th arrondissement
Though there are indeed fewer good foodie options in the 14th arrondissement than in some other spots in Paris, there remain a few places that serve delicious dishes and snacks.
Au Vieux Hanoi, 41 Rue Bezout
Those looking to sample some tasty Vietnamese food would do well to head to Au Vieux Hanoi, which can be found close to the Alésia metro station. The quaint restaurant has both indoor and outdoor dining space and has plenty of vegetarian options on the menu. I personally enjoyed the Chay Bún which has spring rolls and tofu.
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