On Friday I quit my job after two years of not being very happy and headed to Paris in the evening with a dear friend to draw a line under that chapter and celebrate over a girly weekend in the 11th.
We stayed for one night and two days in an Airbnb in the Voltaire/Oberkampft area in the 11th arrondisement which I was really excited to explore, having heard of it being a lesser known, young, ‘bobo’ area of Paris. I would probably relate it to somewhere like Islington/Hackney in London as it was very creative and trendy, but with the classic elegance of Paris. By the looks of things, we chose a public holiday weekend as most of the shops and bars were closed with signs saying they were reopening in September. Not that there is ever a shortage of cafés in Paris to lose a few hours eating, drinking and people watching.
Here’s how we spent two days exploring the 11éme! (We did a lot of walking – over 28,000 steps on the first day!)
We walked to Oberkampft whilst getting our bearings on where we were before a typical French breakfast of coffee and croissants before wondering around with no directions or map, finding ourselves on Canal St-Martin! This was somewhere I really wanted to go to and don’t realise how close it was from where we were.
Wondering from Oberkampt to Canal St Martin was a reminder of how much I love the Parisian architecture mixed with a very urban and creative community. It was very quiet which allowed us to take in all the artwork on the buildings, the amazing graffiti, the architecture and general chilled out vibe in the area. We wondered our way around the trendy boutique shops that lined the right hand side of the canal, eventually stopping for a drink in a gorgeously trendy café which I was drawn to by the great floor tiles.
Here we overheard a conversation between French – English friends and they mentioned Belleville Park as having ‘the best view over Paris’ away from all the hustle and bustle of the tourist sites. Always one to seek out a good view we followed Google maps to Belleville which was about a 25-minute walk from Canal St-Martin and this is the view from the top…
Tour Montparnasse – Having been up the Eiffel Tower every other time I’ve been to Paris, this time I decided to go here instead and I’m so glad. The view from the top is dominated by the Eiffel Tower and just shows how massive it is physically and significantly for the city.
We then wondered around Montparnasse taking in the busy shops and pharmacies and having a late lunch behore heading back to Voltaire to rest for a few hours before the evening.
We headed to Le bistro du Peintre near Voltaire Metro as I had read about how this restaurant dates from 1902 and hasn’t changed since then, making it one of the area’s most beautiful and oldest bistro. We awed at the Art Nouveau interior and traditional Parisian atmosphere over charcuterie and rotisserie chicken washed down with cocktails and chatter from the tables surrounding us.
We then took the Metro two stops up to Oberkampft, heading to Aux Deux Amis on Rue Oberkampf, which is a tiny, very old, art deco looking bar with all organic wines (and supposedly great tapas). It was a busy and buzzing bar with no pretentiousness, but it was a little pricey considering how small and striped back it was. By this point I was so sleepy (we took an overnight coach to Paris) that we walked back to the Airbnb and crashed out.
We woke up and went for coffee and croissants again, because Paris. We were a little disappointed that the cafés don’t seem to open before 10 so we bought them from a sub-par bakery instead who had no butter, jam or milk. Not cool. We then took the Metro to Republique where we walked and window gazed into all the gorgeous shops, wishing they were open, before stumbling upon the Place de Bastille and a huge Sunday Farmer’s Market. We then took the Metro to visit the Arc de Triomphe, then walked in the general direction towards the Trocadéro, following the tip of the Eiffel Tower for reference.
When we reached the Trocadéro it was mostly closed off for building works so we stayed briefly for a photo then decided to walk across to the Seine, picking up a bottle of Champagne on the way (for €8!!!). We sat on the Seine talking and hiding from the rain with the Eiffel Tower looking over us and over feet dangling over the Seine.
After the champagne had been consumed (sob) we headed over to Avenue de Suffren where we stayed on our last trip to Paris to reminisce and get our last lazy lunch on the café lined street before catching our coach to Orly airport to fly back to London.
Some things I wanted to check out but we didn’t have time to in the 11th were: Cafe Charbon/La Place Verte in Oberkampft, Art et Thé on Rue de la Roquette, Pere Lachaise Cemetery and La Coulee Vert (like NYC’s hi-line, although Paris had theirs first), taking over disused train tracks to walk across and take in Paris from above ground. And two suggestions from our host in Paris: Le Baron Rouge wine bar and Septime Wine Caves.
Things to do on my list for my next visit…
I think next time I visit Paris will be with H and I’d probably like to stay in Le Marais in the 3rd/4th arrondissement to be closer to the landmarks – even though I loved getting a more local perspective of Paris this time in the 11th!
Thanks for reading,