Paris Promenade: Where to Eat, Drink & Shop

September 10, 2015

Ah, to wander Paris—the city of lights, buttery baked goods and our just-launched September journal. It’s a place of contrasts, where narrow passages pour out onto grands boulevards, and the chaos of urban life is upended by tranquil, symmetrical gardens. To make sense of it all, we asked our resident flâneuse (and professional Parisian) Alison Beckner to guide us through the charming arrondissements of Eastern Paris for a pastry (or three), market delicacies, under-the-radar concept shops and more.

On a pretty Paris morning, head to the area of Ledru Rollin, just east of the frenetic Place de la Bastille. Imagine the area as a Nolita of sorts—great food, craft cocktails, pretty public squares and mellow side streets. The neighborhood is like a well-kept secret, and is relatively easy to explore on foot or by bicycle. Plan on taking your time to wander and shop nearby arrondissements. But first, it’s time to fuel up.

For breakfast, pop into pastry chef Fabrice Le Bourdat’s award-winning bakery, Blé Sucré. Le Bourdat is particularly famous for his giant madeleines, but all of the bakery’s offerings are excellent, including the viennoiseries such as the pains au chocolat and buttery croissants.

The bakery is tucked away on a side street just a block from the Ledru Rollin metro stop. You can eat your fresh finds at one of the bakery’s small tables out front, or directly across the street inside the lovely Square Trousseau.

However, for a real treat, do like the locals do: get the pastries to go and take them to the end of the block in hopes of finding a sunny seat on the beautiful Le Square Trousseau restaurant terrace. Whether you’re sitting inside or out, the environment is picture-perfect. Order a café crème, a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or an icedcafé frappe—theirs is made in a shaker with a touch of anise—and enjoy your petit déjeuner.

Photo credit: Agathe Rousselle

Our next destination is the marché d’Aligre, a combined farmers market and flea market that’s open Tuesday through Sunday until the early afternoon.

Though most of Aligre’s finest produce vendors are sandwiched in between the flower stand and the covered market, it’s fun to have a look throughout, from the brick-and-mortar shops selling Moroccan flat breads; Portuguese olive oil by the gallon; and enough sausages, cheeses and wines to inspire a year of tasting get-togethers.

The flea market, on the same square, is hit or miss in terms of fabulous finds, but manageable in size, and extremely affordable compared to better-known markets such as Clignancourt and Vanves.

Photo credit: Agathe Rousselle

When you’ve had your fill for the morning, head back to avenue Ledru Rollin, walk south to the corner of avenue Daumesnil, and take the stairs to the Paris “High Line,” known as both La Coulée verte René-Dumont and the Promenade Plantée. This delightfully verdant, elevated park is built on top of a former railway viaduct, and runs from the Bastille opera house to the Bois de Vincennes park.

Photo credit: Agathe Rousselle

Snake around the back streets to rue de Charonne, where you’ll find great original French cowboy boots at La Botte Gardiane, as well as the very first Isabel Marant flagship. Wander through the funky streets around Bréguet-Sabin, crossing over rue Amelot to reach the booming boulevard Beaumarchais.

Next, go off the beaten path to the small rue des Tournelles and stop by Odetta, a boutique specializing in high-end consignment pieces mixed with vintage clothing and furniture. A great spot for Isabel Marant pieces, old and new Céline collections and vintage Yves Saint Laurent—all in excellent condition at extremely competitive prices.

Photo credit: Agathe Rousselle

In need of a craft coffee and a sugar fix? Just next door is the cozy Fragments café. The décor is cool, the music is cool, and they make avocado toast (still a novelty in Paris). A bit hipster? Yes. And nevertheless irresistible.

If you take your coffee to go, skip the gorgeous-but-crowded Place des Vosges in favor of a quite bench under a rose arbor in the lesser-known Jardin Saint-Gilles Grand Veneur or the Square Georges Cain, just behind the stunning Musée Carnavalet.

Photo credit: Agathe Rousselle

Ready for some art? In the area around Place des Vosges and rue de Turenne, Galerie Denise René consistently turns out stellar shows by a solid roster of artists including Josef Albers, Julia Le Parc and Geneviève Claisse.

Neighboring Le Coeur is a project space run by a collective of women including edgy Parisian designer Maroussia Rebecq of Andrea Crews (whose workshop and flagship is located just next door). Also nearby, the Galerie Nikki Diana Marquardt hosts—in addition to noteworthy exhibitions—pop-up yoga classes in a sumptuous space full of skylights.

If you’ve yet to run out of steam, Emmanuel Perrotin and Almine Rech also have noteworthy galleries in the area.

For more shopping in the area, stop by À Demain for a finely curated selection of vintage furniture and design pieces. Then head to both Tom Greyhound and The Broken Arm, two of Paris’ best concept shops in the past few years. Near The Broken Arm, be sure to stop by neighboring Ofr for books, magazines and special events.

For a quick drink, take a short walk to Moonshiner, a speakeasy themed with cocktails so tasty it’s a bit of a surprise they’re legal.

Photo credit: Agathe Rousselle

Now that you’re sufficiently hydrated, walk, bike or cab the short distance to Blue Valentine. The owner’s charming and eclectic décor provides a welcoming setting in which to experience chef Saïto Terumitsu’s superb gastro-bistro cuisine, alongside an enticing wine list and innovative signature cocktails.

An American living in Paris, Alison Beckner is a lifestyle and culture expert and founder of Scout Services,
a consulting agency for lifestyle brands & wellness artists.
Follow her on Instagram @scoutservices.