Oct 10th, 2021, 12:05 AM

A song for each arrondissement

By Sukhi Borse (she/her)
Photo credit: Chris Karadis/Unsplash
Creating a Playlist Catered to My Personal Experiences and Feelings in Each Neighborhood of Paris

1. "Art Exhibit" by Young the Giant

Other than the obvious fact that the 1st arrondissement is home to some of the most famous art museums in the world, this song was actually a love song written to the lead singer's fiancée (now wife), and for me, this is my love song to the city of Paris. In this arrondissement, I find my breath taken away every time by the sheer beauty of the architecture while strolling the Seine. The feeling is quite reminiscent of all the most romantic notions one could think of. 

Young the Giant: Art Exhibit (In The Open)


2. " Manchester" by KishiBashi 

So the serenade to this city continues, while the 2nd Arrondissement is regarded as the business district of Paris, I think it is still very breathtaking as most places in Paris are. However, this arrondissement holds a special place in my heart as it was the place where it kind of struck me that I am really here. The song "Manchester" explores what it means to be feeling a way you haven't felt in a long time-- a sense of comfort of content in your current situation that has created a catharsis. It was here where I kind of experience a release. 

3. "Youth" by Glass Animals 

As the northern part of the Marais, I feel like the 3rd arrondissement is quite bold, bright, and quite hipster which I associate with youth culture, and by all means, I think this song is fitting for the environment. It also works because most of the crowd here in this area is quite youthful, if not in age then in attitude. People feel like they're free to express themselves, and I'm here to see it. 

4. "Fever" by Dua Lipa feat: Angèle 

This song is funky, flirty, and fresh... all of the vibes of the Marais nightlife. This is my go-to party song and the 4th arrondissement is my go-to party place, so it only seemed appropriate for me to add this to the list. (Not to mention, the featured artist is a Belgian musical artist, and sings French throughout the song) 

5. "Paris" by Magic Man 

When I pictured Paris in my head, the 5th arrondissement is what I imagined: the charming little cobbled brick streets with cafes lined up and down in a snaking pattern. Also, I cannot forget to mention what is likely my haven in this beautiful city, Shakespeare and Company. This book store is my home away from home and gives me everything I want in my time in Paris a nice cat to pet, a croissant in my hand, and a comfy chair to read in. This is the Paris of my dreams, thus my song selection for this arrondissement. 

Photo credit: Jeevan Jose/Unsplash


6. " ROYAL" by Dounia 

Walking through Luxembourg Gardens and then having a cup of coffee at Cafe Flore or Cafe Deux Magots just drips of royal energy-- the energy of intellectualism and class, and well to be frank many of the finer things in life. There is also a hint of pretentiousness or righteousness that comes with this environment, and this song is very much the same sentiment of having a class and confidence that is almost cocky, and I could not love it more; there is something admirable about it. 

7. "Birds" by Coldplay

This song makes me feel infinite, and it is pretty much how I imagine I feel whenever, I walk out of the metro from the Invalides station to walking to AUP because I'm here and I made it, and there is a gratitude that washes over me that makes me realize just how lucky I am and how much I feel infinite in knowing that I am capable of making things happen for me and that feeling is something I never want to go away, and this song captures that emotion perfectly for me. 

Coldplay - Birds (Official Video)


8. "Stronger" by  Kanye West 

A shift in energy from the last song, however, I feel it is fitting for the environment. Home to the famous Champs Élysées, I feel like there is a certain kind of confidence you want to have when you walk the street of this avenue, and Stronger gives off that kind of energy. The energy that is meant to hype you up and basically make you hustle. I also think there is a certain kind of artistry on Champs Élysées avenue with some of the top fashion brands of the world, and I think Kanye West is one of the "creatives" likewise to the artists and designers of this sought after street. 

9. "On Our Way" by The Royal Concept

Home to the Palais Garnier and the Galeries Lafayette, I feel like this place has a lot to offer, and the people of Paris seem to agree. This arrondissement doesn't get as much attention as maybe the 8th, 7th, or 1st, but I think it is an up and coming area, and will soon become a household name in Paris as a popular option for entertainment as it is host to many theatres and operas. So as the name of the song suggests, the 9th arrondissement is "on its way" to being regarded as one of the greats in the eyes of Paris tourism. 

10. "We are the Tide" by Blind Pilot 

I find myself in the 10th arrondissement for one reason: travel. With the Gare du Nord and the Gare de l'Est located in this arrondissement, I see this place as the arrondissement that starts the journey to other parts of Europe. The song is about enjoying journeys and the people you get to meet on the way to a destination, and in this way, I think the 10th arrondissement is an ode to all travelers. There is a lot of joy that comes with going to new places and awaiting new adventures, and all of my outgoing trips from Paris have been via this neighborhood. 

11. "Vagabond" by MisterWives 

Ahh.. the Bastille area--a historical landmark of the French Revolution. It played a significant role during the uprisings and political unrest in Paris; it is a resilient place and that is exactly what I think vagabonds exemplify. There is a strength and grit to this place that has kept it together, and now it is a hustling and bustling city in true vagabond and movers, shakers, and changemakers fashion. 

Photo credit: Koshu Kunil/Unsplash


12. "Oblivion" by INDIANS

This area of Paris is relatively quiet and peaceful; walking through it is fun as you get to just slowly stroll with not many disturbances and just take in the city. The tranquility of this area is really what sets it apart, and I think "Oblivion" offers this feeling into a song. Putting my headphones in and listening to this song while walking this arrondissement gave my head an overwhelming rest which I very much appreciated. I just watched leaves falling and it was a moment of contentment in such a simple activity. 

13. "Amerika" by Young the Giant 

The 13th arrondissement is widely recognized as the "Chinatown" of Paris, and is home to many immigrant communities. Knowing this, the song "Amerika" is fitting in that it talks about what it feels like to be an immigrant, while the song may be referring to an immigrant's story to America, the hardships and identities of immigrants are shared internationally. It's about going to a new place in hopes of better and new opportunities while dancing the fine line of achieving success and staying close to your roots.

Young The Giant: Amerika (Official Visualizer)


14. "Heat Waves" by Glass Animals 

This is the arrondissement where I live-- it is the neighborhood I call home, and with that comes my most authentic self, where I feel all the feels where I call my family from the most, where I go after a long day, good or bad; it is where I unwind. It is also where I feel most anxious, and I haven't had the fondest memories here, nor do I always feel comfortable here, and the song Heat Waves is about acknowledging the uncomfortable parts of life and accepting them as they are because they are inevitable. It's about grounding yourself in reality, and hoping that this realization will let you move forward to not necessarily better yourself but to learn from everything and keep on living in the day by day. 

15. "La Ciudad" by Odezsa 

The 15th arrondissement in my eyes with the most modern cityscape and the towering Tour Montparnasse, known as the ugliest building in Paris,  this area makes me really feel like I am not in Paris, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's pretty fun to walk around, and I like cities, so I have not many complaints at all--it's very modern and could be reminiscent of some of the cityscapes and architecture seen in New York City. "La Ciudad' means the city, so quite literally this song embodies the environment of this area. 

Photo credit: Barthelemy de Mazenod/Unsplash


16. "Rich Girl Mood" by Dounia 

This is the most expensive part of Paris, so it should be no surprise about the song for this region. There is a certain suave and class that drips of this region. It is swanky, and the vibes here are meant to be opulent and it is absolutely unapologetic. The area screams privilege, but there is a confidence in it that is actually similar to the feeling in the 6th arrondissement.. except here everything is even more amplified. 

17. "Shuffle" by Bombay Bicycle Club

This arrondissement is home to some of the large open-air markets that Paris is known for. There is a fast-paced and residential essence in this area like everyone is just going about their day trying to finish the last bit of their to-do list. I know that every single time I come here it is for that purpose, and the song shuffle is just one of the songs I associate with moving through the day and getting things done. It is fast-paced, and just a day in the life of completing the ordinary everyday tasks that most people perform. 

18. "I Think Ur a Contra" by Vampire Weekend 

Okay, this is more of a song that captures a moment or a feeling while I walk around Sacré Cœur. It is an in-the-moment decision where walking along this Church while listening to this song gave me goosebumps, I'm not sure why, but it may just have to do with the pretty orchestra instrumentals of the song, but it all just worked to create a magic moment for me where I felt overwhelmed. I also think both the environment and the song have an unsettling calmness about them. 

Photo credit: Meax Prod/Unsplash


19. "Who Knows Who Cares" by Local Natives 

The 19th arrondissement isn't very well known, but the Parc des Buttes Chaumont is what really made this place for me. This park is a little bit spooky as it looks like it is a forgotten place, but it is very beautiful. I came here to read one day, and I escaped for a little bit from this place we call home. I was also having one of those days where I was just thinking a lot about humans and the world and how little we are in the grand scheme of things, and how we are a part of a place's story more so than the places being a part of our story and this song I think helps put into perspective the human narrative in the context of the universe. 

Local Natives - Who Knows Who Cares | A Take Away Show


20. "Young and Beautiful" Lana Del Rey 

With the Père Lachaise set as the resting place to the likes of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and Edith Piaf, there is something quite noir about this place. While a cemetery provides for a more eerie and decrepit atmosphere, there is something quite beautiful in this place and unique in that it is quite theatrical, dramatic, and dark. This is to say it all feels very much like a Gatsby moment and Lana Del Rey's rapport is very much in the realm of the noir and mysterious and her song "Young and Beautiful" highlights death in a way that is similar in feeling to that of Père Lachaise. 

To listen to Paris through my ears, you can find my playlist on Spotify.