For my very first trip to Paris many, many years ago, I did what every pre-internet traveler would do. I consulted the now antiquated guidebook to plan my trip.

The one thing that stood out so clearly in my mind as I mapped out this virgin journey, was that the book concentrated solely on the single-digit arrondissements with just the barest nod to arrondissements 10-20. Although it’s true that the most recognizable tourists sites were and still are concentrated in the lower numbered neighborhoods, it’s really the outer ones that hold the real gems today.

As I live in an outlying neighborhood every summer, specifically the wonderful 17th arrondissement, I’m fortunate to have come to know the areas on the periphery of the city. Now, when I have to go in the center of Paris to see a friend or one of my Paris Made for You vendors, I say I’m going “into the city” because the exterior parts of Paris are like being in a completely different city, far away from the tourist crush.

Given my experience with Paris’ exterior, in this article I want to share with you arrondissements 10 through 12, and then I’ll cover the remaining double-digit arrondissements in two more parts of this exploration.

I’ll also discuss each arrondissement as a potential choice for lodging, particularly apartment-dwelling. Plus, I’ll give you information about each neighborhood’s best markets and where the Monoprix, France’s answer to Target, is located in each neighborhood.

Trust me, knowing where the Monoprix and mini-Monoprix (“Monop”) are can be more valuable than finding the museums. Whether you are planning on staying in an apartment or hotel, purchases from Monoprix should be part of your Paris experience. Everything from pretty packaged food goods to lovely cashmere sweaters are all displayed beautifully at any Monoprix store.

So, let’s start our exploration of Paris arrondissements 10 through 12!

 

The 10e Arrondissement

I’ve spent more of my time here in recent years, and I am glad I discovered another part of Paris that has its special charms.  I would describe the 10e as bohemian, local and working class.  There are some stretches of plain, nondescript apartment buildings as well as wine bars that are not particularly “chic” but are wonderful.  There are no big tourist sites in the area, and that’s nice if you want to “visit” Paris central during the day and return “home” each night.  But know that if you like to rest in the middle of the day, and then return to some of the usual tourist sites, lodging in the 10e may not be best. Although bus and metro connections are excellent in the area, think about how you want to spend your Paris days to determine if the 10e is for you.

The Canal Saint-Martin area is a lovely up-and-coming area. The canal stretches from just above the République area all the way north to the Jaures metro station close to the border of the 19e.  I particularly like the southern end area of the Canal with its cute little shops and funky cafés straddling both sides of the canal. The streets right around the Jacques Bonsergent metro are a fun way to spend some poking around time. You can actually take a boat ride through the Canal with the company Canauxrama. It’s a most peaceful (albeit longish) trip through all the locks of the canal.

Hôpital Saint Louis is in the eastern side of the arrondissement. Be sure to visit the courtyard, which is in formatted in a perfect square. The architecture is early 1600s, and the design combines brick and stone. The hospital was created during the reign of Henri IV, who demanded a fortress like structure be created during the horrific plagues to keep plague victims in and others out. Enter at 2 place du Docteur Alfred Fournier. The courtyard is only open on the weekdays.

Quirky and excellent multicultural eats abound in the 10e with really good prices. The area is less expensive than many of the central lower-numbered arrondissements.

One of the best bakeries in Paris is in the 10e, at 34 rue Yves Toudic, not far from République. Pain et des Idées is a gorgeous shop filled to the brim with luscious breads and pastries along with a wonderfully vibrant and helpful staff. This bakery is worth crossing town for – it is truly one of my favorites

I would also suggest a visit to Verre Vole a tiny wine bar at 67 rue de Lancry near the Canal. It is known for excellent wines and fabulous sausage platters.

For an unusual museum, be sure to visit Musée de l’Évantil (Fan Museum) at 2 boulevard de Strasbourg. Here you can admire a huge collection of fans, changed yearly, all housed in an unassuming building.

If you want to rent an apartment in the 10e:

For apartment hunting, I would probably just avoid the areas right around the two train stations. Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est are busy areas with little charm and a lot of grit.

Instead, I would recommend the southern part of the Canal Saint-Martin near the Jacques Bonsergent metro and renting is also good near the Louis Blanc metro in the northeastern part of the arrondissement. There are very good metro connections here and there are lovely streets surrounding it.

  • Monoprix Location:  91 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis
  • Monop Locations:162 boulevard de Magenta
    13 rue du Mai 1945
    24 rue de Dunkerque
    3 rue de Marseille
Outdoor Market: Marché Saint-Quentin  

You will love this market, as it is the biggest covered market in Paris. While there are other smaller markets in the neighborhood, I think you will enjoy Saint-Quentin.

Also, it even has a very interesting Brazilian snack bar in the center of the market. It is near Gare de l’Est, and while I have not recommended lodging near there, I would take a look at this market.

It is open Tuesday and Wednesday 8:30am-1pm and then again 4pm-7:30pm and Sundays 8:30am-1pm. 

 

The 11e (right bank)

I first became acquainted with the 11e when I began shopping at Richard Lenoir outdoor market near the Bastille. After shopping one day, I allowed myself to get lost in this very wonderful arrondissement, and I think it’s a fine neighborhood to consider renting in.

Since it’s very close to both the upper and lower Marais, if you lodge near the western border you can access some of the main tourist sites simply by walking over to these two arrondissements.

The 11e is a fairly large neighborhood and you can visit some interesting sites in the 12e too if you lodge in the southern end of the 11e. Or, you can be very close to the famous Cimetière du PèreLachaise in the 20e if you lodge on the 11e’s eastern border.

Technically the 11e is bordered by rue de Faubourg du Temple in the north; rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine in the south; boulevard Ménilmontant and boulevard de Charonne in the east and boulevard Beaumarchais and boulevard du Temple in the west.

The 11e area is trendy and bustling in the western area, and calmer and more residential in the eastern. In general, it is hip, young and happening. It’s also becomes more culturally diverse as you reach towards the 20e.

Once home to artist’s ateliers, the area is now bursting with food-loving Parisians.

With lower rents that enable young creative chefs to set up shop, you can discover some of the best cafés and restaurants in the city. One of my favorite restaurants in all of Paris is Septime at 80 rue Charonne. It’s a fine example of truly innovative food in a hip, but yet down-to-earth section of the 11me. You will love this restaurant. Ask for the five-course menu and get ready to be surprised and delighted, and without having to read the menu!

As you head east from Bastille, the streets, in particular rue de la Roquette, rue Lappe, and rue Charonne, are chock-full of lively clubs. The atmosphere is one big party. This may not be ideal for a good night’s rest, but if you have the energy, these streets are really fun.

If you are visiting Paris sans kids, and its nightlife you are after, then the northwest area of the 11me, Oberkampf, might be for you.

Streets such as rue de la Folie-Méricourt, rue Popincourt and rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud have the most nightlife and the action doesn’t get started until late. The western end of rue Oberkampf is quieter and would be appropriate if you have children in tow.

Since many of the streets in the 11e are small and charming, I think the 11e is one of the best arrondissements for simply soaking up atmosphere without visiting any iconic sites. I’ve often spent my time there just walking around the area and I find that it makes for a lovely day without ever stepping foot in a museum.

If you want to rent an apartment in the 11e:

There isn’t much I wouldn’t recommend, unless you are a first timer. In that case, I’d probably stick closer west to the Bastille area rather than to the east near Nation metro.

The area around Nation is perfectly fine, and not at all touristy. In fact, you might find not a lot of people who speak English (and really why should they?!). If this makes you uncomfortable, I wouldn’t recommend renting around here.

Also, the northern end near the 20e can be a nicely culturally mixed experience. If you picture Paris as having pristine streets, you might not want to lodge here. But it is a true Parisian neighborhood as you get close to the Belleville part of the 20e. It’s at least worth a look on your visit to Paris, no matter where you might stay.

I’d probably avoid an apartment directly on rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. The street is crammed with commerce. While it’s a great street to walk up and down on, unless the apartment you’re considering is well insulated from the noise, I’d skip staying on this main drag.

I really love the streets sandwiched in between boulevard Beaumarchais and boulevard Richard Lenoir. You are also close enough to the upper and lower Marais. Some of my favorite streets include rue Amelot, rue Chemin Vert, rue Saint Sebastien and rue Pelée.

Some of the streets around the Ledru-Rollin metro are also nice. Rue Trousseau and all the little streets bordering the northern end of the 12e would be great for apartment renting.

  • Monoprix Locations:99 Faubourg Saint-Antoine
    70 Faubourg Saint-Antoine
    166 avenue Ledru Rollin
  • Monop Locations:62 rue de la Roquette
    48 rue de Malte
Outdoor Markets: Bastille and Richard Lenoir

As mentioned earlier, my curiosity about the 11e was sparked by shopping at this big, bustling market. As one of the largest outdoor weekly markets in Paris, it truly is a sight to see even if you don’t end up buying anything — but I am sure you will.

Local residents I know say the market has gotten too touristy of the years, but I think that’s the sentiment of so many places that gain in popularity. I also don’t think it makes it any less appealing to go there.

The market occupies two very long aisles on boulevard Richard Lenoir, so choose one and make your way through and then go back down the other. You will see repeats of products, but each stand has a different feel depending on its vendors and customers.

The opening to the market at the entrance around Place Bastille starts off with clothing, jewelry and such, followed by food offerings.

The Bastille metro will take you there easily. Or, if you want to enter on a calmer note, use the Breguet Sabin metro and walk south through the market.

It’s open Thursdays from 7am to 2:30pm and Saturdays from 7am to 3pm.

 

The 12e (right bank)  

In one of the first guidebooks I read about Paris I distinctly remember what was said about the 12e:

“There is nothing of interest to tourists here.” That was it!

While it’s still true that none of the iconic tourist sites are located in the 12e, that’s what’s so attractive to so many visitors, especially those who visit often.

The 12e is close enough to get to the sites if you lodge in its northwest portion, and delightful to come “home” to after leaving the hubbub behind. I know a few people who started out as only 5e, 6e and 7e apartment renters and now will only stay in the 12e.

The 12e is quite a bit like the 11e, with regular Parisians going about their business. It is busy along the northern border of Faubourg Saint-Antoine, and not terribly touristy, and this very pleasant arrondissement also has some hip in areas.

The area just south of the border of Faubourg Saint-Antoine, in the northwest corner near the Ledru Rollin metro, is great. There are plenty of little cafés as well as the colorful Marché Aligre. I mention the market upfront (even though I include its details at the end of the section) because it really lends a special feel to this part of the 12e.

The market is slightly exotic and is made up of two parts: the covered market called Marché Beauveau and the open-air market on the square d’Aligre. You’ll find that there is produce from Africa and Asia. The vendors are what you might refer to as “characters.” I find it all so much fun! Surrounding the Marché are wonderful cafés many with open air terraces for people watching.

Another one of my top bakeries is in the 12e: Blé Sucré at 7 rue Antoine Vollon. The desserts and the croissants (a favorite of famous food writer and blogger, David Lebovitz) are to die for.

After a visit to the market and a chance to sit at one of the cafés, head for what I consider the treasure of the 12e: the Promenade Plantée.

Head south from the market to avenue Daumesnil (it’s a long prominent avenue and hard to miss). Running above the avenue is a raised walkway that you can climb up to through sets of stairs at various entrances. It is effectively a way to travel by foot from Bastille to the beautiful Bois de Vincennes park and its environs. This four-kilometer promenade follows the course of a railway that closed in 1969.

Once you are up on the plant and flower-filled walkway, you have left noisy Paris behind. It’s a beautiful walk and one of my favorites for peace and tranquility. As you pass through, take a little peep into the apartments to see how the French live (without being too nosy!). The archways beneath the walkway at the street level are called the Viaduc des Arts. These house upscale arts-and-craft studios and are well worth a look.

I’d recommend you take a break from all the tourist sites, and even shopping, to spend time on the Promenade. If you make it to the Bois de Vincennes, you will be rewarded with a most enchanting part of Paris. It’s technically outside the border of the city of Paris, but it’s so close that it’s at the end of metro line 1 and convenient to the rest of Paris by public transportation. If you end up getting here by foot, spend time in the park as well as the Château. If you are there in the summer, check out local guides to see if there is a concert in the park. The concerts are usually well worth attending.

The southwest part of the 12e houses the Bercy area. Bercy was once the wine wholesaler area of Paris and since has been redeveloped as a residential and business area. Bercy village is quite charming around the Saint-Emilion metro and has lots of little streets offering restaurants and shops. The surrounding park is beautiful too. Line 14 of the metro is convenient and quick for taking you out of Bercy and into central Paris. There are actually two “Bercy”: the village as mentioned above and Bercy 2, which is outside of Paris. The latter is industrial and has little to offer, period.

If you want to rent an apartment in the 12e:

The only part you may not want to rent an apartment, especially if you are a first timer, is the extreme eastern edge since you will be far from sites.

Believe it or not, for the 12e, I’m going to tell you to actually stay near a train station!

Renting near Gare de Lyon in the central western part of the 12e is actually a good choice. Nice little streets surround the station, including my favorite, rue Crémieux. It is just about one of the most charming residential streets in Paris, with cobblestones, potted plants and more.

Just south of the 11e, and just below the Ledru Rollin station, is excellent for apartment renting. You could rent all around here, but just not directly on top of the Marché d’Aligre (which is a bit too hectic).

Somewhere within Bercy Village around Cour Saint-Emilion would also be nice for a rental.

  • Monoprix Locations:215 rue de Charenton
    60-62 Cour Saint-Emilion
    237 avenue Daumesnil
  • Monop Location:4 rue de Lyon (near Gare Lyon)
Outdoor Market: Marché d’ Aigre

As noted above, the colorful Marché d’Aligre located in walking distance of the Ledru Rollin metro station is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8am to 1pm.

 

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