Let's face it, being anywhere is Paris is better than not being in Paris. But that being said, of course I have a favorite neighborhood. When we rented our apartment for our first trip, we knew we wanted to stay in the Marais, which is in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements.
But let's back up for a second. If you don't already know this, Paris is broken up into arrondissements, which are like neighborhoods. There are 20 of them, and the start in the center and circle out around from that point. Neighborhoods can bleed from one arrondissement to another and aren't necessarily bound by the lines of the arrondissement borders. Okay, let's carry on...
The Marais is on the Right Bank, and is the Jewish quarter, the area with the most gay-friendly bars, and is an area with tight, small little roads full of ma & pa boutiques. It's mostly untouched by the architectural alterations of Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who is the guy that made all those big boulevards. Many of the other areas of Paris have some of these features too, but we went with this area sight unseen, having heard it was great, and hoped for the best.
Our apartment ended up being in the 11th, and not the 3rd or 4th, which technically placed us right outside the Marais. This area is known as the Haut-Marais, which is also adjacent to Oberkampf and the Canal St. Martin neighborhoods. Little did we know, but we planted ourselves in the midst of the one area that every magazine and blog is calling the hot new happenin' area to see. Travel + Leisure Magazine posted about it, The New York Times has written about it, and Condé Nast Traveler wrote about how it's the area to go to to see the "real" Paris. Who knew?!
Below are some of my favorite things to see and do in this area so next time you're there you can check some of these things out!
It isn't a visit to the Haut-Marais without stopping into the one and only Merci. This is one of the best curated shops you'll ever visit and on each trip I find myself popping in two or three times to see what's new on the shelves.
Pop Market is not a spot to find authentically Parisian goods, as most of it is from the USA, the Netherlands, and Japan, but it's a fun spot to browse and they carry my favorite pens with French sayings engraved on them.
My favorite piece of jewelry that I wear everyday was custom made for me at the studios at Monsieur. The artist atelier is right around the corner from our apartment and is a must for lovers of minimalist modern jewelry.
If you love falafel, you must eat at L'as du Fallafel while in Paris. Yes, there are many other falafel spots on the same block, but I've tried them all and L'as is hands down the best. Hand your 5 Euros to the guy out front and thank me later.
One great thing for us veggies is that more and more spots are popping up around town and many are in my hood. A new addition is Tuck Shop, which is a small and cozy veggie café run by Australians. We ate there on our last trip and it is so refreshing to order anything off the menu without fear.
The Rose Bakery is also right around the corner from our apartment and is a legendary stop for pastry or yummy egg-based brunch. On the weekends though, it can be crazy packed so avoid if possible!
The good thing about this neighborhood is that there aren't too many tourist sights to see, making it far more full of locals. But one of my favorite things to do is to just walk the Canal St. Martin, which you can do all the way to the Seine.
Both the Place de la République and the Bastille are important historic monuments and are fun to see, but I wouldn't go there just to see them, so these can be looped into your walk around the area.
The Musée National Picasso Paris has been closed for many many years, but is finally slatted to reopen! So depending on when you're going, check to see if you can visit. I can't wait to finally go into the doors!
The Place des Vosges is a gorgeous and historic little green space in the middle of otherwise park-free Marais that is a lovely spot to take a break from sightseeing.
This round up is hardly complete, but it gives you a taste of the area I love most and spend a good 75-percent of my time in while in Paris! Look for more in-depth posts on these tidbits to come!
Have you been to this area? If so, what was your favorite thing to see or do or eat? Share with me and the other readers so we can add your favorite thing to our itinerary next time!
All photos taken by me. Map source listed under the image.