Parisians, much like New Yorkers, Philadelphians, Londoners and the like, fiercely debate the question of which neighborhood is the best,hippest, or most beautiful. Ribbit and I moved to the Canal St. Martin area almost one and one half years ago, and obviously I think that it is the "best of" Paris. Close to the water, but away from the hustle and bustle of central Paris, the Canal has become the new bobo -- bohemian bourgeois -- capital of Paris. I love it for the cordoned off bike paths that hug the quais*, the trees and the evening picnics along the cobble stone sidewalks. If you saw the movie Amélie, you might recognize the above picture as the place where she threw skipping stones.
The New York Times gives credence to my "ode" to my quartier* in the travel section from this weekend
Here are some of my favorites:
best boulangerie : Du Pain et des Idées, 34 r Yves Toudic 75010 PARIS
try the escargots à la pistache, a swirly pastry with pistachio cream, the boule du pain complet -- a hearty, multi-grain bread, or the mini pavés -- mini breads stuffed with chorizo and cheddar, blue cheese and walnuts, or fig compote, among other fillings
best French fusion meal -- Hôtel du Nord , 102 quai Jemmapes 75010 PARIS : 01 40 40 78 78
as the NYT article described, this newly refurbished restaurant comes with some historical baggage, it was the inspiration and namesake for the 1938 film by Marcel Carné whom film buffs might recognize for his longtime collaboration with Jacques Prévert. the food, however, does not disappoint and although its highbrow price tag -- look at at least 30 euros per person for 2 courses and wine, the food represents an exciting twist on French classics (I recommend the millefeuille de thon cru -- a Napoleon of seared tuna with soy vinaigrette)
best people watching and apéro : Chez Prune, 36 r Beaurepaire 75010 PARIS
Prune offers up great lunch fare of salads, traditional French, and soups during the week and serves brunch on the weekends. It is also the place-to-be for the apéritif* hour as its outdoor seating along the Canal provides a prime people-watching vantage.
best shopping: Stella Cadente , 93 quai Valmy 75010 PARIS
this uber-feminine boutique is out of the price range for most people but the floral print silk skirts, flowy blouses and beautiful knits are worth the splurge. if you're in Paris during the January or July sales, it is a must-see boutique.
quai (m) bank (of a body of water)
quartier (m) neighborhood/district
apéritif (m) pre-dinner drink