Neighbourhood suggestions for a week plus in Paris
April 9, 2019 12:55 PM   Subscribe

Paris is such a big city that I'm at a loss for picking a neighbourhood to stay in next month. Neighborhood descriptions tend to be things like "this place is full of tourists" or "this is where the 20 years olds go drinking" but not "hey 39 year old who's into craft beer and vintage video games, you should stay here." So where should we stay?

Us: mid/late 30's, live in a condo by the university in Toronto, relatively hip in a record stores and colourful hair and axe-throwing kind of way.

We want to do museums and explore and eat and like walking but want a place where we don't have to go far to find breakfast in a boulangerie. We do take the train for day trips out of the city so walkability and access to the Metro if not the bigger train stations would be key. But also want to be able to walk to the touristy parts of the city without too much of a hike.

For our last trip to Europe we really liked being in Alfama in Lisbon and near the Rua das Flores in Porto.

Is this a pipe dream or is there a good neighbourhood/arrondissement for us?
posted by thecjm to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (16 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

Plenty of boulangers and patisseries to start your day. Easy access to METRO, as is the whole city. End the day by walking up Rue Lepic piecing together an evening meal from the various shops. Of course stop along somewhere for a wine, or two.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:22 PM on April 9, 2019

Best answer: I had a BLISSFUL stay at an AirBnB on Rue de Charonne in the 11th arrondisment. I don't think the AirBnB in particular is open any more, but that was a fantastic neighborhood - I was walking distance to a crapton of restaurants, little shops, a couple of different Metro stops, one of the main train stations, and the Marche d'Aligre.

Here's a Guardian article about the neighborhood of Charonne that I agree with, and here is another article that focuses on the restaurant scene. This place was across from where i stayed.

Try to find a place near the intersection of Rue de Charonne and Ave. Ledru-Rollin and you can't go wrong.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:30 PM on April 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Your interests and parameters are like my partner's and mine. The last two times we went to Paris we stayed in the 6th, within a 5 minute walk to the Jardin de Luxembourg, which we walked around in every day--it's relaxing and beautiful. Both times, we stayed in rental apartments with cooking facilities and took advantage of the nearby organic farmer's market, but we also ate at some really good restaurants in the area. It's nice and central--the Louvre is a 15 minute walk from the JDL. Metro stops close by, big train station nearby. When we go back we will probably try to stay in that area again.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:34 PM on April 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Like the first commenter, I was also going to recommend Montmartre; I share a lot of your interests and that's one of my favorite neighborhoods. You'd probably enjoy Pigalle (which is just a few blocks over) just as much.

Couldn't tell you the name because we were pretty deep in our cups at that point, but somewhere in that area we found a bar that did truly ridiculous cocktails (like, liquid nitrogen was involved) and had a weird, old, and free pacman-like table arcade machine.

You want beer though, tbh your best bet is to take a bus to Belgium.
posted by solotoro at 1:39 PM on April 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm very much in your demographic (except for the axe-throwing) and I had a great time staying in Le Marais. Walkable to Canal Saint-Martin, Republique/Oberkampf, lots of small museums (the Museum of Hunting & Nature was incredible), Marché Des Enfants Rouges, lots of vintage shops, etc. My only regret is getting a hotel room instead of an apartment as it's hard to eat a rotisserie chicken on a hotel bed.

But judging the variety of other responses, pretty much anywhere in central Paris is going to be close to lots of museums, markets and boulangeries and easily walkable to tourist attractions.
posted by Gortuk at 1:45 PM on April 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: The beer line was more "let me tell you about myself" and less "this is what I'm after in Paris," though I won't say no to a bière de garde
posted by thecjm at 1:48 PM on April 9, 2019

When we visited in 2006, we ended staying not on, but beside Montmartre. We were at the bottom of the hill, a bit to the south-east (next to the Barbes-Rochechouard metro station) - and so we were out of the expensive and very tourist-oriented areas of the hill and into a really eclectic, primarily immigrant neighbourhood. Some people later told us this area was "sketchy"; we loved it - and we found friendly people, bought our ever-so-French pain au chocolate from a boulangerie around the corner run by a lady in a hijab, and could choose between schwarma or traditionally French food, depending on our mood. The only people who bothered us while there were the racists harassing some Tuareg men walking ahead of us. (We were students at the time, so the fact that all of the shops in the neighbourhood were very cheap was a definite plus).

From there, we had a very pleasant 45 minute walk into the very centre of the city (Notre Dame, Louvre), but we also chose to get ride-anywhere metro passes for our week-long trip, which I do highly recommend.

And to add one unsolicited recommendation: if you are at all history buffs, the Basilica of Saint-Denis is a short metro ride from downtown and is one of the most amazing places we visited in the whole of Paris.
posted by jb at 1:48 PM on April 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, another plus to the area where we stayed was that all the people who spoke French-as-a-second language were so nice about our halting anglophone-Canadian French, much more so than the (apparently) French-born guy at the tourist info place. The guys in the "Le Grec" shop were teaching us French words (like "sac" for bag, which we knew but didn't tell them), and then exclaiming happily "that's our word!" when we told that we call it "shawarma" (from the Arabic) in Toronto.
posted by jb at 1:53 PM on April 9, 2019

(One more clarification: when I said we were students, and thus had a low-income, I forgot to specify that we were also late-20s and not at all looking to party. The cheap hotel we found was spartan, but clean and quiet.)
posted by jb at 2:00 PM on April 9, 2019

We were in Lisbon last fall and adored our Alfama apartment. We were in Paris fall of 2015 and loved staying in Marais and Beaubourg near the Pompidou, with Beaubourg getting the slight edge due to proximity to the Pompidou, which we visited daily.

For a museum slightly off the beaten path, I recommend Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine We were literally there alone and it was a beautiful and fascinating respite from the Paris crowds.
posted by donnagirl at 6:31 PM on April 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

With the caveat that I haven't lived in my native Paris (nor, sadly, even set foot there) in over 16 years – not to mention that for financial reasons I've tended to stay in crappy low-end hotel chains in suburbs like Montreuil, which I don't recommend to anyone not on a tight budget – you might enjoy staying near Bastille, which has become fairly trendy. It's not far from the Seine, and is served by three métro lines (1, 5 and 8). The Gare de Lyon is within easy walking distance, and provides access to RER Line A (RER = Réseau Express Régional, i.e. suburban express trains), not to mention trains you can take to relatively nearby destinations like Fontainebleau (whose château is arguably the second most famous in the Île-de-France after Versailles) and not so nearby ones (Burgundy, the Alps, Provence and, if memory serves, certain towns in Switzerland and Italy).

Paris is surprisingly compact for a city of over 2 million people by the way. I once walked from Marcadet-Poissonniers (18th arrondissement, where métro lines 4 and 12 converge near Montmartre) to the Place de la Nation – which I estimate is roughly 2/3 the length of the city – and I'm not an athlete by any wild stretch of the imagination. I believe the métro was designed so as to ensure that you're never more than 500 meters from the nearest station when you're within city limits.

Have a great trip! If you have any questions, shoot me an e-mail.
posted by DavidfromBA at 7:20 PM on April 9, 2019

I've only been there for a couple of weeks as a tourist in the north and for a month working in the 13th. But, if you ask me Montmartre or one of the neighboring places is genuinely worth it. It'll cost 30% more than southern options, but it genuinely is the Paris North Americans have seen in films their entire lives. It's full of tourists, but there's a reason it's full of tourists. And there are also real things there. It's also a 1km walk to working class Paris, and a fifteen minute metro ride to nearly everything.
posted by eotvos at 10:22 AM on April 10, 2019

The requirements for "hip" and "central" are hard to satisfy simultaneously. Pretty much by definition the areas with great transit access are not the places where you're going to find artists, etc. For instance, Pigalle (the red light district) is great but not easy to get to. With the caveat that I'm not at all hip, I have spent time in many neighborhoods of the city, and I think what would suit you would be something in the "Beaubourg" neighborhood, near the Rambuteau Metro stop. It's known for its bourgeois bohemenians, somewhat unkindly referred to as "bobos". The area around Pompidou is a tourist zoo, of course, but just a block or two in any direction and you'll feel like a local. We found a fun bar with inexpensive beers, rotating art installations, and French pop music. It's just half a km to Chatelet (the regional RER rail hub, including direct service to Charles de Gaulle airport) and Les Halles, a big Metro hub, and relatively easy walking distance to Notre Dame. The Marais is really trendy but I'm not convinced any actual artists can afford to hang out there anymore.
posted by wnissen at 10:37 AM on April 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update - I had some travel points that we turned into two nights in a hotel in the Latin Quarter for our "let's been stereotypical tourists" weekend (which I know is the opposite of what I was asking for but it's just for the weekend), and then we're spending a week in a cute apartment between Charonne and Faubourg Saint-Antoine.
posted by thecjm at 6:46 AM on April 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update 2: We're back and had a great time. We really liked our weekend in the Latin Quarter and if we're doing it again might follow hurdy gurdy girl's advice about staying in the 6th. The apartment by Faidherbe - Chaligny was great - we were just across the street from a Super U and around the corner from some great restaurants. And the proximity to Nations meant that we had access to the RER too. That location did mean that we were a metro ride away from any tourists destinations (other than the cemetery) which meant we really got to know the different metro lines (and how each line seems to have a different train with different door mechanisms!)
posted by thecjm at 6:54 AM on May 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

I’m glad your stay in Paris was good!

As another recommendation: We were just in Paris at the end of a longer Europe trip, and we ended up getting an apartment in the 14th this time, on Rue Daguerre, a lively, mostly pedestrian street. We LOVED it and spent a lot of time on the street and in the surrounding neighbourhood, just walking around and absorbing the rhythms of daily life. It’s very much a place where people live and work. There were tourists like us, but they were vastly outnumbered by locals. When we would leave and go to museums in the 1st, or the day we went to Sacre Coeur (ye gods) the difference was stark, and rather jarring if I’m being honest.

The late Agnes Varda lived on this street until her death just a few months ago; she lived there for decades and in 1974 made a film about it and its residents, called Daguerréotypes. In the film she turns the end of the street in front of her house and film business into a beach for the residents of the street. We also visited her and her husband Jacques Demy’s grave in the Montparnasse Cemetery two streets over.

For future readers of this thread, I highly recommend staying on Rue Daguerre if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Paris that

-has a friendly neighbourhood feel (we were exchanging bonjours and smiles of recognition with street residents after a few days)
-has great local shops (baked goods, pastries, cheese, wine, seafood, charcuterie, vintage clothes, books, yarn, accordions, children's toys and games)
-is less expensive
-boasts terrific restaurants (traditional French bistro, Île de Reunion, Vietnamese, Moroccan)
-is within very easy walking distance to the Montparnasse Cemetery (literally a couple of streets over), the Catacombs, the Jardin de Luxembourg, the Bon Marché
-is 15 minute Metro ride or within a 45 minute walk to the Louvre, Orsay, Cluny, Notre Dame
-is a short walk to the RER which will take you to Charles de Gaulle airport in under an hour

We loved it and intend to stay there again.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:47 AM on July 24, 2019

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