One of the best things about living in London is its proximity to Paris! I absolutely love the fact that I can “pop in” to Paris for a day, or in the case of a few weeks ago, for a night. I also have friends living in Paris so there are not usually many excuses that I need to book a seat on the yellow train, dear old Eurostar.
As I’ve been many times to Paris already, and I lived there for three months at one point, my weekend in Paris wasn’t a tour of the tourist sights. Instead I wanted to see what the much talked about hipster Paris is like.
Unfortunately my photos do not really make justice for the cool vibe of Canal Saint-Martin, Gare du Nord, Villette and Le Marais areas, which we visited over the weekend. It’s not so hip to be a paparazzi with a big camera at all times, so I was constraining myself for not taking too many photos…
We started Saturday morning by walking along Canal Saint-Martin. A highlight for me was to stand on the footbridge crossing over the canal and remembering the beautiful scenes from my favourite film, Amelie.
We visited a few trendy shops such as a kitsch homeward store, Antoine et Lili, and walked past several shabby-chic bars and bistros before settling down in Hotel Du Nord for a lunch outside in the sun.
My friends and my hotel were located in Gare du Nord so we decided to spend the evening around this area. Our fabulous dinner was at the Braisenville restaurant, where we had the most experimental food I’ve had in Paris before.
The restaurant served small plates, which allowed us to taste several gorgeous dishes such as trout ceviche, duck breast and for desert a macaroon on a green ‘grass bed’ made out of avocado and vanilla foam. Everything was beautifully presented and the restaurant had a really nice atmosphere: trendy but still relaxed.
From Braisenville we headed over to a bar, Le Fantome. The bar was really quirky. The walls were lined up with old school arcade games and shelves with terminator dolls and pictures of pacman. Despite this rather nerdy decor, the bar attracted a very cool crowd, dressed up in enviably effortless Parisian chic.
After the night out I was happy to find my way to Hotel Paradis, which is a little budget boutique hotel in the 10th arrondissement where Gare du Nord and the Eurostar terminal are. Hotel Paradis was perfect for what I was looking for: Somewhere clean and peaceful to sleep in, a comfortable bed and enough charm to make me feel like I was staying somewhere quite special.
The breakfast at the hotel was tasty and served in the nicely decorated reception room. I would not choose Hotel Paradis if I wanted a romantic city break or stayed for a long period time but for a night in Paris it was great.
The next day we discovered Villette area. We had a picnic in the huge park, Parc de la Villette, and walked all the way from the park to Stalingrad metro station along the canals. In Vilette you can observe a less polished side of Paris. Streets and buildings aren’t as groomed as in the inner centre of the French capital and paths are not crowded with tourists.
Underneath all the construction work, you can see that Villette is emerging as a new cool place to be. Hipster French girls and boys line up canals having elegant picnics with red wine, baguette and cheese. New cinemas with independent films are popping up. Apartments start to get filled up with creative-types.
We finished the day in Le Marais, which is my favourite part of Paris. We stopped in front of Musee des Archives Nationales to see a beautiful, tranquil square and spring flowers opening up. We browsed a few of my favourite Parisian stores which have not yet landed in London, Pain De Sucre patisserie for souvenirs and L’repetto for ballet flats.
After that I rushed back to the Eurostar and still made it back to London in time to have dinner with my boyfriend. What a weekend!
Antoine et Lili
95 Quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris, France
Hotel Du Nord
Canal Saint-Martin, 102 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 40 40 78 78
Du Pain et Des Idees
34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 42 40 44 52
2 Rue de Marseille, 75010 Paris, France
+33 1 42 02 26 08
36 Rue Condorcet, 75009 Paris, France
Tel: +33 9 50 91 21 74
36 Rue de Paradis, 75010 Paris, France
41, rue des Petites-Écuries, 75010 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 45 23 08 22
Musee des Archives Nationales
60 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 40 27 60 00
Pain De Sucre
14 Rue De Rambuteau, 75003 Paris, France
51 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75004 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 70 79 89 37
(c) Nordic Odyssey, 2014. All Rights Reserved.