Photo: Liana Skewes
Eclectic fashion, design and vintage shops like The Broken Arm, Fleux, and Free’P’Star provide ample daytime distraction while you wait for evening to roll around, when the nightclubs, cocktail bars and lively bistros fill up. For a taste of the city’s craft cocktail scene, head to Little Red Door, Bespoke, or Sherry Butt. For a change from the tourist-beaten track, forget the falafel hawkers and head to Miznon for fresher fare. Or duck into Le Marché des Enfants Rouges, one of the city’s oldest markets, for a selection of freshly made food running the gamut from crêpes to tagine.
Today Saint-Germain-dès-Près is more known for its designer boutiques and tony oyster bars than for its poets and painters. Nonetheless, a hint of its creative past remains in the 50-some art galleries of the area. It also has the highest concentration of pastry shops per square meter: stock up on artisan-made chocolates at Arnaud Lahrer, macarons at Gérard Mulot, tarte tropézienne at La Tarte Tropézienne, and salted butter caramels at Henri Leroux, then stroll to the Jardin de Luxembourg and eat them in a garden chair by the fountain.
Belleville — Menilmontant
These east-Paris neighborhoods comprise one of the most vibrant and down-to-earth sections of the city. The wide and rowdy rue Oberkampf is known for its nightlife, but smaller streets harbor craft beer and alternative music bars like Les Trois 8 and La Féline, where locals congregate every day of the week. You can eat home-style French cuisine at one of the area’s many small bistros including Le Baratin and the Bistro Paul Bert, or head up Boulevard de Belleville, the northern branch of Chinatown, for cheap bo bun at Dong Huong. Save time for the Parc de Belleville’s view of Paris, then hit up the open air market on the boulevard if you’re around on a Tuesday or Thursday.
Le Quartier Latin
Stay away from rue de la Harpe’s tourist trap fondue pits and instead head south toward the winding streets of the fifth arrondissement and its mouth-watering collection of small bakeries, cheese shops, and wine stores like PhiloVino. For a break from the crowd, stop by the Grande Mosquée de Paris for a cup of mint tea and a honey-sweet pastry.
Canal Saint Martin — République
In summer, Parisians line the canal armed with picnics and bottles of pinard; in the winter, they squeeze into tiny canal-side wine bars and cafés that used to be factories and warehouses. Rue Lancry and rue des Vinaigriers are where you’ll find bread, cheese, craft coffee, and a bevy of eclectic little stores selling regional products. Try a rosewater croissant at Du Pain et Des Idées, stock up on aged brie and saucisson at La Cremerie, and caffeinate at Ten Belles or Radio Days. Cross one of the many bridges spanning the canal, then head for rue Alibert and rue Bichat for laidback dinner at Le Petit Cambodge or Les Enfants Perdus, or stroll through the garden at the Hôpital Saint Louis to Place Sainte Marthe for live music, flea markets and international grub. If the weather isn’t cooperating, duck into La Vache dans les Vignes for cheese and wine with a view of the canal or squeeze into the ever popular Chez Prune.
One of the last affordable neighborhoods in Paris, the 18th arrondissement is home to much-loved dive bars, old-school bistros, food coops, African and Indian food markets, Paris’s first craft brewery, and the city’s largest community garden. So go ahead and snap your photos of Sacre Coeur, but then go check out what’s on at the Halle Sainte Pierre museum or wander on over to the boisterous Goutte d’Or neighborhood. Spend some time walking around Lamarck and Jules Joffrin, where most people who say they live in Montmartre actually live — no one lives in those picturesque apartments on the hill with blue shutters and bougainvillea (they’re all AirBnB rentals). Grab a beer at Le Super Coin then dig into the best pizza in Paris at El Brigante (if you can get a seat). Or tuck into fresh areperas at Bululu, then walk them off on a stroll to Cuillier café for a third-wave cappuccino and giant madeleines.