Paris is like NY, in the sense that there are a million different ways to experience it. B and I had both spent time in Paris on various occasions in the past, but this was the first time that we had ever been together. This was a good fact, because it eliminated any pressure to see any of the “sights” and allowed us instead to just wander. We lodged in the Belleville neighborhood. Neither of us loved the hotel, so I won’t mention it here by name. Everything else that we tried out in that neighborhood was awesome. Here are some highlights from a food and drink perspective (massive thanks to B, for keeping a list). In each case below, at the end I have included a CoSAAT (Chances of Spotting Another American Tourist) rating, with which one might be able to gauge on a scale of 1-10 the likelihood of running into another USA passport holder (Brooklynites not included). So if you are like us, the mo lowah the CoSAAT rating, the mo bettah. Here we go:
- Les Niçois – If you are into fruits of the sea, and a cozy local vibe, you will love this joint. We did. One thing to note is that we did not encounter a single other tourist in or near this spot. So local that we would have felt like interlopers if it wasn’t for the super friendly staff. There is also a secret bocce court in the basement. CoSAAT rating = 2
- Canailles – This place sits in a little row of local gin joints on Boulevard de Belleville. Each of them have happy hour, or “happy hours” as they say. Excellent small plates, cocktail list and local draft brew. We got the mixed plate and didn’t need dinner afterward. CoSAAT rating = 1
- Aux Folies – We saw plenty of other Americans here (mostly ex-pats, but still). Notwithstanding that fact, we found that this spot was almost unbeatable for late night vino. So much so, that we ended up there three times. Not the friendliest staff, but good bang for buck and it was very centrally located for where we were staying. CoSAAT rating = 7
- Cafe Charbon – This is a good looking bar on Rue Oberkampf. We really liked the way that it was styled up. Great drinks, and very friendly service. Reminded me a bit of The Campbell in Grand Central Terminal, but not nearly as uptight. CoSAAT rating = 4
- La Commune – Another great gin joint on Blvd de Belleville. If you are looking for 90’s hip-hop and other 808-centric jams while sitting in an urban atrium where delicious cocktails and light vittles are served, search no more. CoSAAT rating = 2
- Le Grand Bain – Located in a back alley of the Belleville hood, the food here was in the same vein of the first spot listed above. But the vibe was much more urban. We got some local wine and all of the food on the menu. The food was freaking fantastic and were pleasantly surprised by the bill. CoSAAT rating = 1
- Combat – Femenist themed cocktail bar on Rue de Belleville. It is a hole in the wall, and the drinks are next level (including metal straws, keeping the turtles in mind). Music was most likely Tribe Called Quest Spotify radio. CoSAAT rating = 1
- Le Compas – Okay, this joint is on Rue Montorgueil, which gets festive for the holidays (see top photo). I’ll be honest, it is a generic Parisian bistro. But it is a little bit off of the beaten path for the average tourist, and the food/drink was worth mentioning on here. CoSAAT rating = 8
- Les Nautes – for when you are waltzing along the Seine and you already picked up your fresh greens from the farmer’s market, but feel like taking down some freshly shucked oysters and vino. Be prepared to wait in line. But also, depending on the weather, worth waiting in line. CoSAAT rating = 7
Some additional photos-
Quintessential Belleville (graf and jetlagged babes down basically every alley)
I want this Piaggio tuk tuk so bad for when the L goes down.
Scouting Invaders (not hard these days since they are basically on every corner)
Pretty out of focus, but you get what you pay for with a timer shot.
Another slightly out of focus and off center timer shot. Counting it as a win.
Moon over the Seine
Shepard Fairey off of Oberkampf
A cool building that we saw. A lot of people were taking photos of it.
Hole in the wall spot on Rue de Belleville. Coolest hardwood veneer table tops. We passed it at night and it was a club. Think Enid’s in Greenpoint.
From the top of the Parc de Belleville
Also from the top of the Parc de Belleville
Parc de Belleville
Another shot of that glowy building. This time it was sparkling and signaling the ships at sea, or something.