First-time visitors to Paris should definitely visit the Marais for art galleries and falafel shops, and Bastille for modern art and antique records, but these areas are just too “bobo” to impress your Parisian friends. Instead, head for these lesser-known neighborhoods for a rendezvous that will show the world that you’re very chic. We’ve offered tips on a couple of places to visit in each neighborhood, but be sure to explore on your own to see what other surprises you can find.
You’ve probably switched metro lines here, but have you ever actually had a look around? Full of students, cheap bars, and affordable restaurants; Republique is a great place to hang out.
Do: Wander along the popular Canal St. Martin, and be sure to stop by Point Ephemere for artists’ workshops by day and live music by night.
Eat: For down to earth food, the traditional(-ish) crepes at West Country Girl are worth waiting in the line you’re likely to find.
Drink: The area around Republic Square is full of bars, and on busy nights your best bet is to listen for the music that draws you in. If you can’t make up your mind, Le Cinquante is always a good bet for music and reasonable drink prices.
Famous for its taverns as far back as the 14th century, until recently Belleville has been considered a fairly rough part of town that didn’t draw a lot of visitors. With great food options and tons of music and drinking dens, the area has seen resurgence.
Do: The terrace at the top of the Belleville Park offers an unexpected but impressive panorama of Paris. Though the park itself closes at 6:30 p.m. or earlier, the terrace is accessible all day and night.
Eat: Belleville is one of the best places in Paris to find East and SouthEast Asian restaurants and grocers. For a spectacular Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwich (for only €3.50/$4.75), visit the unassuming Panda Belleville restaurant.
Drink: Right in the middle of Belleville Boulevard, Le Buzz is a reliable favorite for undiscovered musical acts and cheap drinks any night of the week.
Compared to Belleville’s rough-and-tumble feel just next door, Menil Montant is all arts and diverse blend of cultures. You can find a little bit of everything here.
Do: The Pere LaChaise Cemetery may be a popular tourist draw, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time. Both a manicured park and a historic graveyard, it can be equal parts beautiful and atmospheric.
Eat: La Maroquinerie offers a limited but tempting dinner menu, and since you’re already here, you’ll be in prime form to catch a show here or at the Bellevilleois performance venue across the street.
Drink: Flea market by day and bistro by night, Eva Pritsky is something altogether different from most of Paris’ drinking spots. Stumble in here while a live show is on, and in a room where thirty patrons is a crowd you’d have to try hard not to make new friends.
Despite the annual Festival d’Aligre and one of the most centrally located flea markets in Paris, the Aligre neighborhood remains relatively unknown. This area has a very down-to-earth, and welcoming, vibe.
Do: While the covered market at Aligre operates daily, with stalls selling meat, cheese, and everything else a Paris market should offer, the real draw here is the Sunday flea market. Antique and vintage goods abound, and there’s a fair bit of international art as well.
Eat: If you’re looking to eat a lot of good food without spending a lot of money, the couscous at the 3FC restaurant is a winner. At 16 rue Aligre, the restaurant is just steps from the flea market on the main square.
Drink: After picking up groceries and vintage clothes at the market, and filling up at 3FC, celebrate your day with a glass of red wine at Le Baron Rouge. On a sunny Sunday, after shopping at the flea market, this is one of the best ways to spend a day in Paris.