Give the Eiffel Tower a miss this summer

Put a pin in the Eiffel Tower for Euro 2016. Jeremy Allen walks us through Paris proper with natural plonk, forgotten Piaf and plenty of spirited bonhomie.


Best old man boozer
Paris is hardly synonymous with old man pubs, but Le Zorba (137 rue du Faubourg du Temple) is a snug space with an assemblage of convivial vintage boozehounds. As one of Paris’ many PMU bars, you can also place a bet or buy some fags.

The cocktail you’ll tell all your mates about
The Experimental Cocktail Bar (37 rue Saint-Sauveur) isn’t just a clever name. Check out Tommy’s Margarita Especial at this Les Halles establishment, a mind-melting tequila Arette mixed with lime, organic honey and bourbon vanilla.

Greatest happy hour
Café Cheri(e) (44 boulevard de la Villette) in Belleville hosts a happy hour between 5pm-8pm and with pints at €3.50, it’s a very happy hour (or three) indeed.

Best natural wine
‘Natural’ plonk is all the rage in Paris right now, and nowhere is more feted than Les Caves de Reuilly terrace wine bar (11 boulevard de Reuilly) in the 12eme arrondissement. With so few recognisable labels, don’t be afraid to ask for a bottle that suits.

Where the locals drink
Le Comptoir Général (80 quai de Jemmapes) on the Canal Saint Martin is innocuous enough exteriorly, but pass its black door and inside is a TARDIS-like world of possibilities with wild African decor and hip locals as far as the eye can see.

The Experimental Cocktail Club does a mind-melting tequila AretteThe Experimental Cocktail Club does a mind-melting tequila Arette
The Experimental Cocktail Club


Best hangover breakfast
There are times when a pain-aux-raisins and orange juice just won’t cut it. Breakfast In America (4 rue Malher) in the Latin Quarter will take care of all your starchy needs, even if it’s not exactly authentically Parisian.

Best street food stall
The Bügelski Deli (59 rue Belliard) is a food truck with a difference, dispensing tasty bagels instead of burgers. Its fillings include classic pastrami, roast chicken and smoked salmon.

Best ‘I’ve run out of cash’ meal 
Rouleau de Printemps (42 rue de Tourtille) serves up delicious southeast Asian cuisine in Belleville where you can reasonably fill yourself up for less than €10. Otherwise try Bouillon Chartier (7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre), an inexpensive former soup kitchen selling cheap French food in lush fin de siècle surrounds.

Best flashy restaurant
If you like flamboyant French food, there’s no better place to try it than the ostentatious, belle époque establishment Le Train Bleu, situated within the Paris-Gare de Lyon. This cathedral to cultured cuisine is like eating at the Palace of Versailles.

Best burger in Paris
For something a little different, munch down on a quinoa burger at the Potager du Marais (24 rue Rambuteau), Paris’ premier vegan restaurant. If you must have your pound of flesh, then Paris’ first burger truck, Le Camion Qui Fume (168 rue Montmartre), has juicy patties worth tracking down.

Most hipster coffee shop 
The 20eme arrondissement has threatened to become gentrified for decades - and judging by the number of laptops you’ll see in Cream (50 rue de Belleville), the takeover is already happening. Expect specialist coffee, homemade cereals and room to lock up your bike.

Most Instagrammable dish
Any of the meat, fish or vegetarian Bentos at open-plan Nanashi restaurant (57 rue Charlot) will set stomachs rumbling in real time on your Instagram feed.

Le Train Bleu does food as good as it looksLe Train Bleu does food as good as it looks
Le Train Bleu


Where to pull a cougar or a silver fox
Nuit Debout, where people of all ages come together at Place de la Republique for rousing choruses and political protest, is the cultural epicentre of Paris right now. Most are there for activism, but you’ve got a whole night ahead of you, so why not offer someone some of your blanket?

Where to snog a student
Both English and French students hang out at cheap chain bar Belushi’s (5 rue de Dunkerque) near Paris Gare du Nord. You’ll double your chances if you’re bilingual, otherwise a long night of televised sport and drink deals awaits.

Where to go headbanging
Where else but James Hetfeeld’s Pub (17 boulevard Poissonniere)? Due to the variable spelling, we presume that it wasn’t named after Metallica’s frontman originally, but it’s been turned into a metal themed pub anyway.

Where to pick up naughties
Rue Saint-Denis will fulfil all your basest needs, from Persian rugs to Verlan-spouting Toms.

Where to dance your tits off
If good music, strong booze and spirited bonhomie is your kind of thing, get down to the sweaty wine cellar of Chez Georges (11 rue des Canettes) where unabashed revelry explodes most weekends.

Last last orders
Paris isn’t affected by archaic licensing laws, but try Le Plein Soleil (90 avenue Parmentier) next to Parmentier metro anyway - it barely ever closes.

Most scenic spot for a sunrise spliff
Terrass en Huit (or ‘Terrace on high’) at the Terrass Hotel (rue Joseph de Maistre) in Montmartre boasts an astonishing view of the city. In fact, almost everywhere in Montmartre has wonderful sunrise views (its name is old Roman for ‘Mount of Mars’).

The sun rises over Sacre Coeur church in MontmartreThe sun rises over Sacre Coeur church in Montmartre
Ioan Florin Cnejevici / Thinkstock


Best budget hotel
Painted with a psychedelic palette, Woodstock (48 rue Rodier) is a no frills hostel near Anvers that is fun and amenable if you don’t mind sharing. If you’re in need of a bit more privacy and you fancy a budget boutique abode for the night, then the Color Design Hotel (35 rue de Citeaux) in Bastille is surprisingly stylish.

That ‘if only I could win the lottery’ hotel
Hotel Amour (8 rue de Navarin) in Pigalle used to hire out rooms for an hour at a time, but these days it’s pulled its stockings up and is now one of the most alluring stays in Paris. The 20 individually styled boudoirs nod towards its promiscuous past, but are all sublimely finished off. You might just bump into French pop royalty if you stay here too. 

Paris’ best Airbnb listings
You won’t find cheaper and better located than this €37 solo traveller room in the 11eme. Couples can enjoy this rooftop refined residence near Pere Lachaise cemetery, and a group of four will undoubtedly be charmed by this bijou flat in the heart of Montmartre.

Quirkiest digs in Paris
Set in the oldest boulangerie (bakery) in Paris (the facade hasn’t been altered), the Hotel du Petit Moulin (29 rue de Poitou) is a stylish apparition in the heart of the Marais with each room realised by fashion designer Christian Lacroix.

Stay at this seriously stylish flat in the heart of MontmartreStay at this seriously stylish flat in the heart of Montmartre

What to do

If you try one thing…
Treat yourself to a champagne picnic in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Commissioned by Napoleon III to appease the proletariat in the mid-19th century, the north-easterly park is the most beautiful in all of Paris.

What to see

The obligatory cultural stop
After five agonising years of renovation, the Picasso Museum (5 rue de Thorigny) has reopened, showing the key works of this prolific 20th-century genius in the city he loved best.

The oddest museum
The Edith Piaf Museum (5 rue Crespin du Gast) is a peculiar space featuring a wealth of tatty memorabilia. Crammed into two pokey rooms where Piaf lived when she was still singing for her supper on the streets of Menilmontant and Montmartre, the museum is appointment only. Be warned: curator Bernard Marchois doesn’t speak English.

A tour with a difference
The Catacombs (1 avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy) in the 14eme contain the bones of over six million long-dead Parisians. With walls of skulls and altars of bones, it’s a macabre adventure through the dark tunnel systems under the city.

The coolest ‘hood
That’ll be the 11eme, with most of the finest bars in Paris dotted along rue Oberkampf and rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud. Give it six months and the coolest arrondissement will probably be the 20eme.

What to miss
The Eiffel Tower is passé for most Parisians. You can see it from any vantage point around the city, but don’t actually go there unless you want hassle, queues of tourists and shady dealers selling you knock off umbrellas.

The Catacombs are home to over six million dead ParisiansThe Catacombs are home to over six million dead Parisians
Becca Vogt / Thinkstock


Best charity shops
There are very few charity shops in central Paris, but the Boutique Emmaüs à Paris (54 eue de Charonne) is a volunteer organisation that sells clobber for the homeless.

Best places to pick up vintage threads
The Hippy Market (21 rue du Temple) near Hotel De Ville might not have the best nomenclature, but it does have some of the best deals on pre-worn clobber. 

Best market
The legendary Marché aux Puces in Saint-Ouen is one of Europe’s largest flea markets with over 2,500 stalls. Here you can pick up anything from antiques to bric-à-brac, bomber jackets to bongs.

The legendary Marché aux Puces is perfect for giftsThe legendary Marché aux Puces is perfect for gifts
Marché aux Puces


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