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Stroll These Underrated Arrondissements for a Local Paris Experience

Paris Insider Guides Culture
by Kellie Mortimer Mar 11, 2020

Paris is made up of 20 distinct neighborhoods, or arrondissements, each with its own personality and charm. Many of the central arrondissements are famous among tourists for their monuments and museums but outside the highly trafficked, often touristy arrondissements there is a side of Paris that is completely underestimated. For those seeking a more local look at the French capital, these seven arrondissements are worth exploring.

10th Arrondissement

Porte Saint-Denis

Photo: Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

The 10th Arrondissement has seen a huge revival in the past decade. This now-hip neighborhood is a great place to get a taste of a less-crowded Paris, without sacrificing the Parisian characteristics that brought you here in the first place. The city’s best people-watching is along the Canal St.-Martin on a sunny day, where locals flock to spend their evening drinking wine among friends. The 10th Arrondissement is home to trendy boutiques and international restaurants that offer a younger side of the city. Dine on the patio at Marrow, on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, for finely plated seafood dishes or at Chez Michele for foie gras and gnocchi. Afterward, walk past the Porte Saint-Denis monument, a 17th-century structure built under the direction of Louis XIV.

Must do: Enjoy some treats from one of Paris’ award-winning bakeries, Du Pain et Des Idées, and browse the eclectic selection of shops along the Canal St.-Martin.

How to get there: Metro lines 5,8,9, and 11 all stop at République, which is a short walk away from the canal.

Ninth Arrondissement

Opera National de Paris Garnier

Photo: lapas77/Shutterstock

Located between the foot of the Montmartre hill and the bustling center of the First Arrondissement, the ninth district of Paris is filled with world-class shopping and trendy nightlife. The Galeries Lafayette and Printemps are Paris’ premier department stores and their rooftops have unrivaled (and free) views of the city — perfect for a shopping break. Just north, the Pigalle neighborhood, which had a reputation for most of the 20th century as Paris’ red-light district, has evolved in recent years and is now full of hip cocktail bars and trendy restaurants. Also located here is Napoleon III’s Palais Opera House, built as the home of the Paris Opera in the mid-1800s and the world’s most strikingly photogenic example of the Beaux-Arts building style.

Must do: Catch the sunset from Printemps’ rooftop bar before heading to dinner at Pink Mama, making sure to check out its basement speakeasy for a nightcap.

How to get there: Metro line 7 stops directly in the basement of Galeries Lafayette and Metro line 2 will drop you off in the heart of Pigalle.

19th Arrondissement

Canal Saint Martin

Photo: Agnieszka Gaul/Shutterstock

The 19th Arrondissement is an outdoor playground for Parisians. It has two of Paris’ largest — and far less touristy — parks, Parc de la Villette and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, along with the Canal de l’Ourcq, the larger and swimmable part of the Canal St.-Martin. On warmer days, Parisians head to these sanctuaries for picnics, relaxation, and to escape the city heat. Parc de La Villette hosts fairs, cultural events, and movies under the stars, and has several museums sprinkled throughout its expansive grounds.

Must do: Rent a boat at the Bassin de la Villette for an unforgettable picnic or sip rosé at Pavillon Puebla hidden in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

How to get there: Metro line 7B goes straight to the Parc de Buttes-Chaumont (the Buttes Chaumont stop), Metro line 7 for la Villette (the Porte de la Villette stop), or line 5 for the canal at Laumière.

11th Arrondissement

open-air market in the Bastille district

Photo: lembi/Shutterstock

The 11th Arrondissement encompasses some of the best restaurants and hippest bars in Paris. While the entire city is known as the pinnacle of culinary excellence, the 11th has an appealing mix of open-air markets, creative restaurants, and a growing cocktail and beer scene. On Saturday nights, locals flock to the Oberkampf neighborhood, stopping at Pierre Sang for Korean or Astier for traditional French dishes before wandering the Marché Bastille, the city’s biggest open-air market, on Sunday mornings. Aux Deux Amis is the spot for a late-night glass of wine and a snack in Oberkampf, should you find yourself strolling the boulevards after dark.

Must do: Peruse the Marché Bastille for a taste of local life on Sunday and Thursday mornings and wander through the boutiques on Rue de Charonne before catching the sunset over a cocktail on the roof of Perchoir.

How to get there: Lines 5 and 9 stop at Oberkampf and 1,5, and 8 stop at Bastille.

17th Arrondissement

photo of architectural detail of haussmanian building

Photo: Francois Roux/Shutterstock

The 17th Arrondissement borders the ritzy Eighth Arrondissement and the vibrant and artsy 18th. Taking notes from its neighbors, the 17th combines affluence with a bohemian flair. The village-like Batignolles neighborhood is full of galleries, shops, and cafes on Rue de Batignolles and Rue des Dames. The neighborhood possesses a Parisian atmosphere, detailed with independent shops, charming streets, and discouragement for the early diner — many of the quaint restaurants in the neighborhood don’t open for service until after 7:00 PM. Make a reservation at l’Envie du Jour for one of the best three-course menus in the neighborhood, or stop at Le Bouchon et l’Assiette for a (slightly quicker) classic French patio meal. A short metro ride away is Parc Monceau, one of Paris’ most regal parks with statues and beautiful gardens.

Must do: Get lost wandering the streets of the Batignolles neighborhood and stop at the covered market to get supplies for a picnic in Parc Monceau.

How to get there: Line 2 services the 17th with stops at Blanche for Batignolles and Courcelles for Parc Monceau.

12th Arrondissement

Cremieux Street

Photo: DaLiu/Shutterstock

The 12th Arrondissement is a great place to get a feel for a more residential Paris. It encompasses the easternmost part of the Seine River, far away from the tourist boats. Locals love to stroll along the promenade Plantée, the precursor to the High Line in New York City. On a sunny afternoon, check out the shops in Bercy Village, or stroll through Paris’ biggest park, Bois de Vincennes. One of Paris’ main train stations, Gare de Lyon, also calls the 12th Arrondissement home with its famous restaurant, Le Train Bleu inside. The restaurant displays ornate architecture that transports its patrons back to the Belle Époque era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Must do: Check out the less touristy boat bars along the Seine on a summer evening such as Café Barge or Summer Boat.

How to get there: Lines 1, 5, and 8 stop at Bastille which is a short walk from the main sights. Line 1 and 14 service Gare de Lyon.

20th Arrondissement

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

Photo: Lucas Arland/Shutterstock

Even with the rapidly evolving Belleville and Ménilmontant neighborhoods, the 20th Arrondissement doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Though, it certainly has the appeal as an up-and-coming area in a grittier side of the city. These two neighborhoods serve as the epicenter of Paris’ growing craft beer scene with some of the most influential beer bars and breweries like Le Trois 8, Le Gambetta, and Bar & Beer Ménilmontant. The stunning Père Lachaise Cemetery is Paris’ largest and is the final resting place of many famous people, including Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde.

Must do: Wander through history at the Père Lachaise Cemetery to the graves of Wilde, Morrison, and Marcel Proust.

How to get there: Line 2 runs through the 20th stopping at Père Lachaise, Ménilmontant, and Belleville.

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