The area around the Bastille, in the heart of the 11th arrondissement, feels modern and bustling, even though it’s one of the oldest in Paris. Historically, it’s been home to artistic types, a fact which the scenery is inspiring enough to warrant. I’d compare it to the River North neighborhood in Chicago. It’s also home to something very, very special: the Best French Fries in Paris. More on that later. Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of the main square.
If you can, start here for dinner! This cozy, very Parisian cafe is a favorite of locals in the neighborhood. For this traveler, it provided the perfect French bistrot moment I’d been looking for.
Okay, now for the important part. This bar, Le Centreville, self-described as “Modern European,” has the Best French Fries in Paris. Seriously. I swear it. Also, it’s friendly, comfortable, happy, and nicely-decorated. The photos give you an idea of the scene. Note the giant smile on my travel companion’s face. She’s happy about the awesome French fries, y’all.
This excellent cafe is large and airy, with plenty of seating. There are airy, light rooms with touches of bright color in the decor, and there’s plenty of lively conversation. My travel companion ordered his first Aperol Spritz of the trip here, and, according to him, it was very, very good.
This photo wasn’t taken at Pause Cafe, but I think it’s representative of the mood.
Le Bistrot du Peintre
This bar/restaurant is not only lovely, it’s historic, too, established in 1902! It’s the oldest bistrot in this interesting neighborhood, and even the building itself has a long, fascinating history. There’s great food, great alcohol, and great coffee. There’s beautiful art on the walls and beautiful design on the ceilings. Have at least a drink here, and enjoy the historic ambiance.
This is a secret gem. It’s tucked into an adorable, quiet alley, and when you walk inside, if you’re there on the right night, you’ll find some great local acoustic music, comfy seating, and a back room bar with a view of interesting graffiti. It’s pretty cool.
After my evening in the Bastille neighborhood, I felt I might have experienced a something a little like a local might. Paris is full of interesting people engaged fully in life, and they’re happy to share their city with you.
If you visit any of these places, comment and let me know what you think! And if you’re curious for more, see my other posts on Paris.
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