The Marais is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Paris and, while the falafel restaurants, noodle joints, and gay bars of its busiest parts are definitely worth a visit, the best of the shopping is to be had in its northern section. Whether its food, fashion, literature, or interior design you’re after, you’ll find it in the chilled, village-feeling streets of the Haut-Marais.
Twenty years ago, Parisians wouldn’t have been caught dead in the area south of Pigalle; now, they can’t get enough of its boutique hotels, gourmet food shops, and high-end restaurants. You could dine out every afternoon and evening for quite a few weeks on the Rue des Martyrs and Rue Henry Monnier alone, with special mention going to La Table des Anges, Buvette, and Les Affranchis.
The best street art in Paris can be found by wandering through the arrondissements of the north and east of the city, traditionally working class neighborhoods which are now quickly gentrifying. Arguably the Parisian street most famous for its high-quality graffiti is the Rue Denoyez in Belleville. You can take a guided walking tour of this artistic quarter for just €15 if you book online.
Pétanque – France’s answer to bowling – is a national pastime which unites young and old in Paris. Nowadays, you can find specialist bars with indoor terrains to play in but if the weather’s good then the best way to enjoy the sport is with the locals in a square or small neighborhood park like the one in Batignolles, an up-and-coming address in the 17th arrondissement.
Few parts of Paris are livelier than the Canal Saint-Martin, home to trendy shops, bars, restaurants, and even a few quirky florists. You can take a cruise on the canal or sail yourself up and down its length but the easiest way to appreciate the vibe is with a picnic with friends on the docks, one which starts early and lasts well into the night.
Very much a city for music lovers, Paris is most often associated with the development of jazz during its heyday of the 1920s. There are superb jazz clubs across the capital but by far the greatest concentration is to be found in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the most glamorous of the Left Bank’s neighborhoods and the preferred hangout for everyone from Voltaire to Hemingway.
At night, the Grands Boulevards neighborhood comes alive thanks to its high density of after-work bars and late-night clubs but during the day it’s often overlooked as a business district caught between the flashier areas of Montmartre, Louvre-Tuileries, and Canal Saint-Martin. However, between the office blocks are some of Paris’ most attractive shopping arcades, relics of the city’s glittering Belle Époque and the perfect places to pick up a souvenir.
Food markets and covered halls are 10 a penny in Paris, the gastronomic capital of the world (despite what some studies might tell you), but one of the best is the Marché Bastille, which takes over the Boulevard Richard Lenoir every Thursday and Sunday. The market kicks off at 7AM and usually begin to wind down around 2:00PM so get there early to bag the freshest produce.