Paris‘ République neighborhood is bursting at the seams with restaurants, cafes and museums. The lively neighborhood, bordered by three arrondissements, is the perfect place for a daytime wander in Paris. Here’s some advice on ten things to do and see in Paris’ most bohemian neighborhood.
You can’t talk about what there is to do in République without talking about the Canal Saint-Martin. Originally conceived by Napoleon to supply freshwater for a Parisian population that was growing rapidly, the canal is a great place to walk around in the summer months, and there are restaurants and galleries everywhere. Alternatively, you could take a page out of a true Parisian’s book and grab a few beers and some charcuterie from a nearby grocery store for an impromptu day-long picnic.
The Centre Culturel Pouya, the Iranian Cultural Center on the Quai de Jemmapes is an unpretentious building on the Canal Saint-Martin. Showcasing all that Persian culture has to offer, it is a perfect, cozy place to visit for a tea in the middle of the day. The Pouya’s charm is not only its relaxed atmosphere, but the breadth of programs it has to offer on any given day. From poetry readings to plays to concerts and film projections, stop by the Centre Culturel Pouya for a truly unique experience in Paris.
Having been closed for the past several years, the Picasso museum recently re-opened its doors. Not far from rue de Temple, this classic building in the renowned Hôtel Salé boasts around 50 permanent pieces as well as a rotating collection of Picasso’s sculptures, engravings and a host of other Picasso related and inspired art. For fans of Diego Giacommetti, there are many of his sculptures to complement Picasso’s, and if you’re under 26, like most museums in Paris, entry is free. The Musée Picasso is a great place to experience a Paris from a Spaniard‘s point-of-view and understand what inspired Picasso to leave the land of sangria and paella and install himself in the City of Lights.
Le Comptoir Général is a self-proclaimed museum to exotic and marginalized African cultures. Hidden away in an industrial building on the canal, Le Comptoir Général serves many purposes; it is a restaurant that specializes in African cuisine, a bar that serves a killer Ti-Punch, an art space and even a club on the weekends. The decor can only be described as hodgepodge, but it’s quite comfortable, with sofas and chaise longues in one of the bar areas. Come with friends and enjoy this remarkable venue.
A bit further away from République at the Belleville metro station and bordering the 10th and 20th arrondissement is Rue Dénoyez, a small alley-like street littered with graffiti and street-art where you can find artist ateliers and squats as well as small boutiques. It is one of the most famous streets in Paris that has a deep connection to the urban scene of the city, and after the ‘Sauvons la rue Dénoyez‘ (Let’s Save Rue Dénoyez) campaign, the street seems to have new life. Enjoy the artsy and bohemian chic side of Paris with a drink in some of the nearby bars.
Technically in the Marais but not far from République is the Place des Vosges, the oldest public square in Paris. Originally built in the early 1600s by Henry IV and inaugurated in 1612 to celebrate the marriage of Louis XIII to Anne of Austria, the Place des Vosges is a beautiful park surrounded on all sides by what now serve as mutli-million dollar residences, art galleries and cafes. The Place des Vosges is one of the premier people-watching spots in Paris and is a spot where several television shows and films are constantly shooting. If you’re lucky enough, maybe you’ll get to be an extra in the French version of CSI!
If you love 19th century antiques and are enamored with French history, go to the Musée Carnavalet on the Rue des Francs Bourgeois. It chronicles Paris from the Middle Ages through the 20th century with paintings, sculptures and architectural pieces, as well as rotating exhibitions.
To get a little taste of South Asian culture in Paris, look no further than Passage Brady by the Gare de l’Est. The passage is just another example showcasing how multicultural Paris really is. The traditional Indo-Pak restaurants and boutiques boast a friendly staff and give this small street a different feel from the large Hausman buildings in the Western part of the city. For a break from la vie parisienne, head to the passage Brady for good food in a welcoming environment.
Literary nerds rejoice – the Maison de Victor Hugo is located at the Place des Vosges and is where Hugo himself lived for 16 years in the mid-1800s. The house-turned-museum houses manuscripts, Hugo’s drawings, and correspondences between Hugo and other writers (Alexandre Dumas and Baudelaire are of note), artists, politicians, and theaterfolk, as well as family. Also on show are Hugo’s love letters to Léonie Biard. Get an intimate portrait of one of the most prolific French writers in history with a visit to the Maison de Victor Hugo.
Though mainlining coffee is part of a balanced diet in France, in recent years, there has been an upsurge of artisanal coffee shops sprouting up throughout the city of lights. Ten Belles takes coffee very seriously offering constantly changing and fresh accoutrements like a rhubarb and raspberry crumble cake that goes well with the highly aromatic and flavorful coffees offered. If you want something other than a simple espresso at a cafe, come to Ten Belles and enjoy delectable fare in an environment that is lively and fun.