Bobo land, hipster haven, the edgy Champs-Elysées…the Canal St Martin area in Paris’s 10th arrondissement gets called many things. The multi-ethnic quarter has seen a wave of gentrification in the past few years, transforming it into a strip of modern-artisan boulangeries, concept stores and MacBook-abundant cafés.
As a resident myself (although my clunky laptop exposes my lack of true Canal hipster credentials) I can tell you that Canal St Martin is undoubtedly where quality artisanship and innovation is happening.
Here’s my guide: where to eat, drink and shop on the authentic Canal St Martin.
Canal St Martin coffee boosts
Start the day with a spell in one of the micro-sized cafés. You won’t find any bitter Café Richard here.
‘Ten Belles’ café gets a lot of press and consequently is usually rammed, but if you’re looking for quality coffee in a calmer setting, pop next door to family-run ‘DonAntónia Pastelaria’. Their custard tarts are stunningly well baked and the perfect morning coffee accompaniment. The only downside is the lack of space with only one table to sit at.
‘La Chambre aux Oiseaux’ just around the corner offers more seating in a cosy environment. The ‘Grandma’s house’ style interior has assorted plush armchairs, a fireplace and dinky china. Unlike most French cafés, here you can get coffee by the great big mugful. No trying to work out how to drink pinching a tiny handle.
Ten Belles, 10 rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010, Paris
DonAntónia Pastelaria, 8 rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010, Paris
La Chambre aux Oiseaux, 48 rue Bichat, 75010, Paris
Ditch the souvenir shops
The Canal is lined with chic, minimalist-style shops, often so minimalist you can’t work out what they’re actually selling…but don’t be discouraged, there are some real bounties to be found.
‘Centre commercial’ may not be an actual shopping centre, but it does offer homme, femme, enfant and lifestyle sections, all full of top quality, ethically sourced items. Expect to find handmade linen tablecloths and simple ‘Made in France’ dresses.
For humbler tastes, the matchbox record shop ‘Music Please’ is just a short way from the Canal and a great place to get away from the bustle. Here you can find classic records in genres from hip-hop to jazz and everything in between.
And if you’re looking for something great to play it on, head over to ‘RetroFutur’ where you can choose from beautiful modernist designed record players, radios and hi-fi systems. A treat for the eyes and the ears.
Centre commercial, 2 rue de Marseille, 75010, Paris
Music Please, 5 rue Jean et Marie Moinon, 75010, Paris
RetroFutur, 55 Quai de Valmy, 75010, Paris
What’s for lunch?
The canal is bustling with microscopic cantines serving some good (and highly Instagramable) lunches, but here are a few options if you don’t fancy squeezing your derrière onto a plastic stool at lunchtime.
For lunch on-the-go or a picnic in Jardin Villemin, you can’t go wrong with Christophe Vasseur’s ‘Du Pain et des Idées’. This is an authentic boulangerie à l’ancienne where you can pick up a few mini-pavés; this stone-baked bread is stuffed with ingredients like dried apricots and blue cheese, or olives and herbs.
If you’re looking for more of a sit-down affair, ‘Philou’ is a classically decadent French bistro to while away the hours. Chosen as part of the Michelin restaurant guide 2016, you can enjoy classic French dishes like roast pigeon and tartare as well as more delicate ensembles, like the fennel served five ways.
Du Pain et Des Idées, 34 rue Yves Toudic, 75010, Paris
Philou, 12 avenue Richerand, 75010, Paris
Dinner is served
With trendy Oberkampf just a few paces away, Canal St Martin is a lively and sophisticated spot for an apéro and evening meal.
‘Le Verre Volé’ started as a cave à vin with just a few tables to nibble charcuterie with your wine. After an expansion in 2010, they now serve a full menu of inspired fusion and French small plates. The venue is still just as cosy, although David Lebowitz points out it has lost some of its “impromptu feel” (which may be a plus or minus for you). Book well in advance for this much talked about venue.
Alternatively, take a walk back in history at the famous ‘Hôtel du Nord’ – the backdrop to the Marcel Carné film of the same name. Surely one of the few places where you can find fish and chips, foie gras, sashimi and bò búns on the same menu, and all at great quality. A saviour for when you can’t agree with your friends where to go.
Le Verre Volé, 67 rue de Lancry, 75010, Paris
Hôtel du Nord, 102 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010, Paris
A taste of modern Paris
Don’t let preconceptions put you off Canal St Martin, this is one of the few places in the central arrondissements that doesn’t feel like a touristic museum to Paris’s past, but a part of its future as a city of innovation. While some the clichés of a ‘hipster takeover’ are not unfounded, there really is something for all tastes and ages here.
Where to find them
Have you ever experienced Canal St Martin? Do you have any other suggestions for where to eat, drink or shop? Let us know your favourite spots in the comments bow below!
All images © Rose Trigg
Map made with Google MyMaps