In spite of skipping a holy brunch of pancakes and eggs at Holly Belly (lack of time) and a melting-in-the-mouth escargot chocolat pistache at Du Pain et Des Idées (closed on Easter Sunday), our visit to the 10th and 11th arrondissements was as satisfying as ever. You have to get out of the metro in Canal Saint-Martin or Oberkampf area to see and feel the huge difference – in both look and animation – between the classic, postcard Paris we all know so well, and the new Paris, the playground of local students and bohemians.
Here is where we’ve been in the 10th and 11th:
- Ten Belles, the cosy and sunny coffee shop a few steps away from Canal Saint-Martin is the place where I tried specialty coffee for the first time a few years ago. I can still remember the fresh, herbal taste of my brew. It was love at first… cup! A pioneer on the Parisian specialty coffee scene, Ten Belles is probably my favourite coffee shop ever. Not only for the coffee and the friendly vibes, but also for the whole set-up of the place – small, unpretentious, light getting in through large windows, chairs and people pouring out into the street, between lush plants from the flower shop next door. We were happy to visit again.
- One of the places I wanted to visit for quite some time was Le Perchoir, the rooftop bar with views over the city. So this is where Nico, our Parisian friend on the Right Bank, took us! We drank beer, yelled at each other in an attempt to cover the loud music, had a very tasty cheese snack, drank more beer, smoked cigarettes, felt happy. We thought the crowds and the long waiting line at the bar were natural side effects of such cool, vibrant location.
- La méduse, one of those no nonsense yet hip neighbourhood bars, was very close to Nico’s apartment. That’s where she took us for dinner the same night, after Le Perchoir. I was indulging into my finger-licking fish, cauliflower, and buttery sauce dish, sipping wine, and looking out of the windows. Through minimalistic illustrations of jelly fishes and other sea creatures, I could see the streetlights reflecting into the waters of Quai de Valmy, where couples or small groups of friends were having beers, spending time. Much like the vibe inside the bar. I had a revelation of some sort, thinking that was Paris for me, the atmosphere defining how I saw the city. Had I lived in Paris, La méduse and the places nearby would have been my hangouts.
On Easter day, Nico invited us for lunch at her place, close to boulevard de la Villette. The apartment she lives in with her boyfriend Matt is like no other I’ve been to in Paris. First of all, it’s a high-rise building. Second, the place is huge. And then, the view!
We ate – Nico cooked traditional Romanian dishes, including desserts – drank wine, listened to music records, carried monologues with Chopin the cat, had fancy tea in fancy tea cups (common thing around here, I suppose), and smoked – because Paris.
Dinner time found us still there. Nico went to the shop downstairs and the next thing I know we were having a burger and fries dinner. Because Nico is like that. Just give her some random ingredients, and she will prepare the most delicious meal.
As the night fell over Paris, the Eiffel Tower appeared as a magic lighthouse, its beam of light scanning and flashing in the darkness, reminding everyone of the great city they’re in.
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This is the last post on our most recent trip to Paris. You may find the previous posts here (Living la Vie en Rose in a Parisian Home), here (A Particular Night in Paris), here (Le Marais – An Itinerary), and here (Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Briefly). I hope you enjoyed it. As for me, I know for sure it’s my favourite trip to Paris so far – all thanks to my Parisian friends who really made me feel at home!