Culture

A How-To Guide To Paris’s Most Hip Precinct

What's not to like about good coffee and big breakfasts?

Getting your head around Paris’ numerous arrondissements is like trying to get to know 20 different people in the space of a week – it’s definitely a lot harder than it looks. Where do you go for a good meal? Or a spot of shopping? Luckily, we’ve enlisted the help of DONNA WHEELER, author of Paris Precincts, a new book that dissects each and every part of this famed city of love. In this extract, Donna reveals her favourite spots in the 10th arrondissement, which has recently gained itself the nickname ‘The Williamsburg of Paris’.

Home to the grand (if occasionally sketchy) train stations Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, the 10th arrondissement has transformed, over the last decade, into one of the city’s hotspots. The once sleepy micro-quarter around Rue de Faubourg Saint-Denis has a slew of new bars, innovative dining options and fabulously individual shops, all of which mix it up with the area’s original Maghreb grocers, straight-laced patisseries and ever thriving West African hair salons. It’s a snapshot of Paris at its most vibrant, rapidly morphing and defiantly diverse.

par
1 / 5

Faubourg Saint Denis 52

Address: 52 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis
Metro station: Château d’Eau

Charles Compagnon, who gave us L’Office and then Le Richer, again works his magic at this restaurant-bar-café. Its concrete-walled and radically stripped-back space has a surprising warmth and intimacy and is somewhere locals drop in for a coffee, or a plate of cheese, great wines by the glass and a chat with the happy, handsome staff. Lunch and dinner may require more planning – no reservations are taken – but it’s easy enough to snare a table if you arrive early or wait it out at the bar (hardly a chore, with those aforementioned happy, handsome staff buzzing about). The small menu offers four or so choices per course; expect pretty, flavour-filled and generally happy-making neo-bistro dishes.

Le-Syndicat
2 / 5

Le Syndicat

Address: 51 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis
Metro station: Château d’Eau

Look past the peeling posters to the gold lamé curtains within. This grunge-luxe, hip-hop-drenched drinking hole is a self-proclaimed ‘Organisation de Défense des Spiritueux Français’, created by Sullivan Doh and Romain Le Mouellic with the express aim to French-up the artisan cocktail. Cocktails here use Cognac and Armagnac – spirits most young French people associate with their grandparents – along with beautiful boutique French gins, absinthe, eau de vies (fruit brandies) and some surprise regional rarities. The creative list goes to town but the ‘classiques’ are equally charming, and include a made-in-France ‘gen tonique’ done with Pontarlier gentian liqueur and a herb-infused house-made tonic water.

Broc'Martel
3 / 5

Broc’Martel

Address: 12 rue Martel
Metro station: Château d’Eau

Laurence Peyrelade’s delicious vintage and industrial shop sits slap-bang in the middle of rue Martel, a café-filled but defiantly local strip. Her selection of ‘curiosities’ – fairground fittings and ephemera, shop signage, industrial lighting – indeed seems ready-made for those who reside in the high-ceilinged lofts of the city’s north-east. But never fear: she also has an intriguing collection of smaller pieces (beautiful rattan mirrors, hat moulds, ceramics). If you’re prepared to ship your finds home, her other speciality is chairs, including the metalwork of Tolix, Multipls and Fibrocit and the 1950s beauties by Tapiovaara, Baumann and Knoll.

La-Tresorerie
4 / 5

La Trésorerie

Address: 11 rue du Château d’Eau
Metro station: République

Once home to the district’s treasury (hence the name ‘trésorerie’), this high- ceilinged, bar-windowed warehouse is today packed with a delightfully domestic kind of bounty. Three friends, Elsa Coustals, Lino Landau and Denis Geffrault went into business with the aim of selling utilitarian things that are: a) made in Europe by small manufacturers (over a third are in fact made in France); b) made to last; and c) produced as sustainably as possible. These philosophical underpinnings are noble but also deliver: La Trésorerie’s homewares, from linen dish cloths and l’Econome steak knives to Gien porcelain dinner sets and lamb’s-wool blankets, have rich histories, tactility and true quotidian beauty. At the front, airy Café Smörgås serves up excellent coffee and Swedish treat.

Hollybelly
5 / 5

HolyBelly

Address: 19 rue Lucien Sampaix
Metro station: Jacques Bonsergent

Subway-tiled Holybelly might be the poster child for the hipster annexation of north-east Paris – ironically the annexation that expat Brooklynite hipsters keep complaining about – but seriously, what’s not to like about good coffee and big breakfasts? Parisians Nico Alary and Sarah Mouchot honed their barista and kitchen chops in Melbourne and Vancouver and deliver the most genuinely sunny welcome in the city, along with excellent coffee served in equally sunny signature yellow cups. Mornings start with pancakes or maybe eggs and smashed avocado. The lunch menu’s focus is on fresh seasonal ingredients and big bold flavours, and might include French standards like ragout of beef cheek or New World upstarts like fish tacos, and kale, beet and quinoa salad.


This is an edited extract from Paris Precincts by Donna Wheeler, published by Hardie Grant Travel and available now where all good books are sold.

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