Formerly a French Revolution state prison, this district in Paris delights with its diverse sights – from the Marché d’Aligre to the Opéra Bastille.
Bastille is destined to be remembered for its integral role in the French Revolution. But the area that straddles the City of Light’s 4th, 11th, and 12th arrondissements isn’t simply a magnet for those in search of history. The zoo is as popular with the kids as the food market is with the grown-ups, while discount tickets to the opera make it accessible for all. There’s also a thriving nightlife, thanks to dozens of lively bars and eateries. Here’s our pick of the best ways to spend your time in Bastille.
Serving up affordable drinks, great DJ and music sets and a warm, buzzy atmosphere, Le Motel is popular amongst hipsters. Expect mostly indie pop-electro-rock at this small, dimly lit bar, which is also home to an event agency and publishing house. Happy hour lasts until 9pm, plus cheese and charcuterie boards are also half price ’til then. Sundays alternate between karaoke and a very popular music quiz night.
Bastille has plenty of eccentric boutique shops to browse. Merci, a concept store created by Bonpoint founders Bernard and Marie-France Cohen, donates profits to a foundation supporting women and children in Madagascar. Within the 1,500sqm (16,000sqft) space, you can find furniture, accessories and clothing from designers like Isabel Marant and Stella McCartney.
A cinephile’s dream lies inside the Frank Gehry-designed Cinémathèque Française, with a permanent collection of some of the most iconic props and costumes ever seen on screen. This includes costumes worn by Elizabeth Taylor and Vivien Leigh, alongside props like the head of Mrs. Bates from Psycho. The cinema also hosts retrospectives and showings of cult classics.
There’s no lack of charming, cobblestoned streets in Paris, but Rue Crémieux might stand out among the lot. The iconic street can be seen in many Instagram shots due to the brightly coloured façades of the buildings and the trompe l’oeil paintings sprinkled across the street. While it’s a beautiful photo location, keep in mind it is a residential area, so be discreet!