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  • Writer's pictureCarsten Sprotte

The 11th: Bastille, Oberkampf, Faidherbe

Foody, trendy, dynamic

rue Deguerry in the Spring

I have lived here and there across Paris (yes, even in the remote Village d’Auteuil (16th) and in Montmartre (18th), but the 11th is where I have lived the longest and where I currently live. Unlike many Parisians who seem to believe that their own neighborhood is “the best”, I’ll simply say that I enjoy the 11th very much and have a good sense of what it has to offer. 

Most would characterize the 11th as foody, trendy, and dynamic. 

Some of the 11th is a spill-over neighborhood from the Marais, which previously held the title to the above adjectives before it became too chic and swamped by tourists. 

Naturally, all the new restaurants with young chefs and trendy concepts began to take hold just east of the Marais. I hardly know where to begin when it comes to brasseries, cafés, and restaurants…so I’ll end with these:

  • Papa Poule (rue des Thailandiers)

  • Les P’tites Indécises (Place de la Fontaine Timbaud)

  • Le Chardenoux (rue de Chanzy)

  • Delhi Bazaar (71 rue Servan). Trendy and tasty French/Indian fusion.

  • Brasserie Martin (Square Gardette). Reliable Parisian brasserie food in a pleasant winter garden setting. Just avoid the baba au rhum (way too dry).

  • Pause Café (41 rue de Charonne). Known by the locals as the most reliable terrace to catch some sun regardless of the season.

The “foody” 11th is also home to, even encircled by, several of Paris’ largest open-air markets. The Bastille market, located at the lower end of the Boulevard Richard Lenoir, is held on Thursday and Sunday mornings. Open on Tuesday and Friday mornings, the Popincourt market is my preferred one, located further up the same tree-lined boulevard (near the Richard Lenoir metro stop). I find that it has an excellent choice of cheeses, fish, and greengrocers. My merchants of predilection are:

  • Les Vergers de Picardie where you’ll find about twenty seasonal varieties of apples (only five at a given time).

  • Le Bar à Hareng with its choice of over forty different marinated herrings.

The well-known Marché d’Aligre is located in the 12th at the border of the 11th, so you can benefit if you live in the 11th. Same for the Marché de Belleville, bordering the 20th. 

In addition to such markets, you’ll find countless specialty food shops, organic grocers, and a plethora of top-notch boulangeries/patisseries. Honorable mention goes to Ten Belles (rue de Breguet), MieMie (25 rue Sedaine), Terroirs d’Avenir (rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, also rue Paul Bert), Benoit Castel (rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud). All of these use blés anciens (wheat varieties from yesteryears, naturally low in gluten).

Good luck cutting down on bread with such bakers and patissiers as these!

Bordering six other arrondissements, the 11th is perhaps more than anything else the most convenient of all locations in Paris without actually being central. The transportation network is particularly dense with six metro lines, and hubs at République, Bastille, and Nation.

Sandwiched between other arrondissements and lacking high-profile tourist attractions, it does remain difficult to appreciate the contours of the 11th,  To get a feel for the best it has to offer, here are the neighborhoods I would recommend walking:

  • Bastille: rue de la Roquette, Rue de Charonne, rue Popincourt

  • Faidherbe: Rue Faidherbe (the perfectly Parisian street where you’ll also find the quintessential “Pure Café”. A scene from Sunset in Paris was filmed there along with a few scenes from my own life. 

  • Square Saint-Amboise and Square Gardette. There’s not much green space in the 11th, so take advantage of these little parks. You won’t want to miss the Atelier des Lumières on rue Saint Maur, another example of how the 11th has become so trendy. 

  • Oberkampf: rue Oberkampf, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, rue Saint-Maur, all teeming with nightlife.

Père Lachaise cemetery is officially in the 20th, but its main entrance is located at the top of the rue de la Roquette in the 11th. It's fair enough to consider it the major tourist attraction for those who tour the 11th. During the Covid19 episode, when the government decided to restrict people's movement to a 1km radius, I spent some time in Père Lachaise "conversing" with the dead.

I appreciate the diversity and authenticity of the 11th. The architecture ranges from classic Haussman to early 20th-century manufacturing. Stone, plaster, brick, and iron happily mix. Jews, Muslims, Chinese, and French bobos ("bourgeois bohemians") peacefully cohabit the northeast side of the 11th (bordering Belleville), proving it to remain possible. 

So now, before the 12th-hour strikes and while the bread is still hot, how about your own apartment in the trend-setting 11th?


See more photos of the 11th in this album.


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