Contrary to its reputation as a city stuck in time, Paris is a living, breathing, ever-changing place. While seeing the Eiffel Tower twinkle at the top of the hour will give you goosebumps, and wandering the cobblestone streets of the Latin Quarter sure does feel like you’re in a movie, you can find the real heart of the city on the outskirts of its postcard-worthy monuments and romanticized neighborhoods.
We’re not going to stop you from reading (or writing) a book at Les Deux Magots and sipping a noisette at Café de Flore in Saint Germain-des-Prés. But nobody does a latte like Yuichiro at Dreamin’ Man in the 11th arrondissement, and while the only line we’d wait in is for the whole-roasted cauliflower at Miznon in the lower Marais, may we suggest the challah pastrami sandwich at Chiche by the Canal Saint-Martin, too?
In short: The next time you visit Paris, consider strolling beyond the tried and true into parts of the city where today’s Parisians are firmly planted in the present but also looking to the future.
Village Faidherbe/Rue de Charonne
Go for: world-class restaurants, serious coffee, and more tasty treats
Chef Bertrand Grébaut put this micro-neighborhood between Bastille and Nation in the 11th arrondissement on the map when he opened the now Michelin-starred, World’s Best Restaurant–ranked Septime on Rue de Charonne in 2011. While newcomers like sandwich spot Mokoloco (from the team behind Mokonuts around the block on Rue Saint-Bernard) are keeping popular Rue de Charonne fresh, walk a few blocks further east into “Village Faidherbe” for even more tasty treats. Kabane takes its coffee trés seriously by presenting beans to sniff before ordering, and the “hamsburger” over at Ham’s on Rue Paul Bert is pressed hot to perfection on an olive bun. On that same block, pop into artisanal epicerie Terroirs d’Avenir to ogle the pretty produce, and order a cappuccino at Nomade.
For all the chic skirts and other vetements, visit Paul & Bertine. The steak frites at Le Bistrot Paul Bert are worth suffering through the cranky service. Nearby, chef Cyril Lignac boasts not one but three spots worth your euros: a chocolaterie, a boulangerie (get the chausson aux pommes, a flaky apple turnover), and the gastronomic restaurant Le Chardenoux where the burger is as first rate as the seabass carpaccio.
What’s more, Marché d’Aligre is within walking distance—and it’s open six days a week unlike other Parisian markets.
Go for: the hottest new restaurants, street art, and Eiffel Tower views
At the center of this 20th arrondissement neighborhood blitzed with colorful street art, the Parc de Belleville makes for a perfect picnic spot with views of the Eiffel Tower. Grab a sticky-sweet kouign-amann pastry from Le Petit Grain before it’s cocktail-o-clock at Combat, opened by a former Experimental mixologist Margot Lecarpentier.
For a while, foodies mostly only came this far north for quality Chinese food (we’re talkin’ ’bout your buns, Panda Belleville!), or chef Raquel Carena’s bistro fare at Le Baratin. But there are plenty of newcomers to sate your palate and quaff your soif. Capitale is quickly becoming the place to hit up on weekends for the likes of kale and ricotta toast or stuffed croissant sandwiches at brunch, while Cheval d’Or’s walk-in-only counter seats are still coveted, and offer a first look at plates like bonite with chili and yuzu as they’re being prepared.
You’ll find one of the best lunch deals in Paris at Le Cadoret where brother and sister team Léa and Louis Fleuriot whip up three-course, seasonally minded midday meals for a reasonable price. And the newly-opened hotel Babel is the perfect place to unpack and digest the vibes of this other-wordly, yet truly French ‘hood.
Go for: charming boutiques, historic markets, and some of the city’s best cocktail bars
Despite its crowded, crooked streets, the Marais remains one of Paris’s most coveted neighborhoods—both for locals and visitors. And for good reason: It’s super charming.
But if the lower grid, close to Rue de Rivoli, is akin to New York City’s SoHo (and similarly more commercial), farther north in the Haute Marais is its Nolita: full of smaller, independent boutiques and concept shops that you may not find back home.
Start on Rue de Bretagne at the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the city’s oldest covered market, for a sandwich from Chez Alain Miam Miam. (Hot tip: He opened a brick-and-mortar place on Rue Charlot if the wait inside the market is too long.) Then, weave your way around the surrounding neighborhood, popping into Veja for sustainably made sneakers, Maison Labiche for one-of-a-kind embroidered striped tees, and L’Officine Universelle Buly for scented candles and skin essentials.
When thirst hits, the creative cocktails at Le Mary Celeste and Bar Bisou will give you a buzz worth the hangover. The rooms at the Sinner hotel in the Haute Marais are dark, yet sumptuous, perfect for a good night’s sleep. If jet lag’s still got you down, snag one of the few seats at Dreamin’ Man for the latte of your, well, dreams.
Canal Saint-Martin/Château d’Eau
Go for: excellent people-watching and even better boulangeries
The Canal Saint-Martin area is definitely worth a wander—especially in summer when les bobos (slang for the bourgeois and bohemian) come out in droves to dangle their Stan Smiths over the water. Just off the canal, a new chef’s residency program at Early June sees cooks from around the world come in — be it Jamaican, Vietnamese or Italian, while Rue Beaurepaire and Rue de Marseille remain bursting with indie clothing boutiques—particularly for men.
A micro-neighborhood has emerged close by on either side of Boulevard de Magenta and deserves a closer look. Boulangerie Mamiche is there for all of our babka cravings, while Chiche serves seriously good Israeli food (order the borekas plate). Shop Pompon Bazar and Passage Doré for chic housewares and souvenirs sure to turn your home into a Parisian palace—with a Moroccan twist.
Le Grand Quartier, the newest and perhaps most ambitious addition to the neighborhood, makes this a prime area to stay. The trendy, 83-room hotel features a coworking space—complete with a communal central courtyard and surrounding shops.
Along similar neighborly social sentiments, La Montgolfière Club and Bromance Paname offer group fitness classes in either a sprawling loft setting (La Montgolfière) or an intimate cave (Bromance). A few workouts should counteract all the pinwheel pastries from Du Pain et Des Idées, which, yes, are still worth getting. (But for the love of all things buttery: Go in the afternoon to avoid a queue.)
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