Monday, July 23, 2012


I had worried that Paris was no longer mine. Not in the way it was when I was going there (this is my 85th post here about Paris) regularly: being greeted like an old friend by the gardien, taking the laundry to the Pressing, watering the pelargoniums, buying my favourite yoghurts, stopping for an apero and ambling around in the neighbourhood of the Haut Marais as if we belonged to each other. My last few visits had been different. Not bad, just different. I felt like a visitor again rather than a regular. And I always gravitated back to the old haunts of the old 'hood, whichever other arrondissement I tried to inhabit.
Lunch at L'Office with lovely Erica
This time I found myself staying in Montmartre - above Pigalle and below Abbesses. It's an area I was not that familiar with. I'd always avoided it because of the touristy bits around the Sacre Coeur - I would make a special trip occasionally to visit APC Surplus and bemoan its location there. I suppose I considered Montmartre an anodyne version of Paris, that had lost its edge long ago and was picturesque but held no surprises.

But surprise surprise. Thanks in no small part to the top floor apartment I stayed in with the panoramic views of the WHOLE of Paris (as I keep telling everyone) and the instructions I was given on where to find the good cheese, wine, bread and coffee places (and the lovely neighbours!) I found a good little neighbourhood beat there. Cat in the courtyard, ambling down rue Lepic, bonjours all round from the shopkeepers. I was like flippin' Amelie for a moment there. I still gave Sacre Coeur a wide berth, but I found some lovely streets to wander and some places I liked a lot, both there and in the 9th down the hill. I know you can't really say you "found" anything in Montmartre - it's all been seen and done and the paths are well trodden - it reminds me a lot of Notting Hill, including having had an extremely popular film set there that cemented its ubiquitousness on the tourist trail.

But I wasn't homesick for the 3rd while I was there. I went there twice to meet friends and felt quite happy going back; up the hill to watch the light of the Eiffel tower sweep across Paris and past the window. In the bedroom I could open one eye from bed and see across to Montparnasse, my eye landing on a different landmark each time. From the kitchen I could see Sacre Coeur up the hill and from the living room everything across to La Defense, then to the left the top of the Eiffel tower and the Pantheon. It was like being in the sky. I was pretty into that view.

So that was good. Here is a small list of addresses in the 18th and 9th.

Le Grenier à Pain (Abbesses)
38 rue des Abbesses, 75018
Fougasse. Is all I'm saying. The head baker won the 2010 Gran Prix de la Baguette for best baguette in Paris. I don't know about that, just get the fougasse.

The fromagerie in rue Lepic, 75018.
Can't remember the name - it might just be Fromagerie Lepic - but it's opposite the Cafe des Deux Moulins made famous in Amelie. Unfortunately that cafe now has huge posters of Amelie everywhere and is frequented mostly by tourists. The coffee there is mediocre. So go to...

Kooka Boora
62 rue des Martyrs, 75009
Okay this is exactly like an Antipodean stylee cafe in London or Berlin and everyone has their laptops out. It's not Parisian at all, and their flat white (there is no way to say flat white with a French accent I discovered) was kind of like a latte, but wow, all the attractive people walking past with their extremely attractive dogs was what sold me on this place. Extremely good people (and dog) watching.


RD said...

love it... a great city has gems scattered throughout, and paris especially has so many angles and vistas that even over-touristed neighborhoods have little havens.

i'm long overdue for another visit (everywhere)...


anna said...

wow! where did you find this place to stay in? was it good value? I love Paris, but am totally sick of the overpriced (and normally poor) accommodation on offer hotel-wise! I'd love any tips!

Vogue Sky said...
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Fashion Noble said...
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lola is beauty said...

anna -sorry for taking ages to respond. It was through someone I know, but this lady does rent her place out often. It wasn't cheap actually, compared to other apts I've stayed in in Paris, but it was very nice - if you'd like the details just email me (lolaisbeautyAThotmailDOTCODOTUK)