If you’ve seen my Instagram, you probably know that last month I spent a week alone in Paris. Having never been to France before, I did some research ahead of time to figure out what Paris neighborhood to stay in. I wanted a place that was somewhat centrally-located, but not overly touristy. I also wanted to stretch my dollars and be kind to my budget. I decided to give the neighborhood of Republique (in the 10th Arrondissement) a try and found a great deal on Airbnb. I ended up loving the neighborhood so much that on some days, after exploring the whole city, I’d come back early with plenty of time to soak up the charming hipstery-ness.
Republique can be found on the orange line (also known as the 5 train) either at the eponymous stop or the stop called Jacques Bonsergent. My apartment (a large studio all to myself) was only a couple of blocks away from the latter. Every morning I’d wake up hungry and head over to one of the pastry shops for a quick croissant before venturing out for my first adventure of the day. I knew almost no French but being able to say ‘Bonjour, une croissant, s’il vous plaît’ will squelch a growling stomach ASAP.
This was my plan if I wanted a grab-and-go breakfast. But sometimes I varied the routine.
When I had more time in the mornings for more of a sit-down breakfast or brunch-y place, Le Poutch fit the bill. Cozy and bright, this cafe also has a nice French magazine selection, mostly of the design and fashion variety, that you can read at your little table at your leisure. A juice bar is right next door.
Down the street from Le Poutch (and next door to a kindergarten) is Holy Belly. They don’t take reservations and there’s usually a wait so don’t sleep in on the morning you plan to go. Very delicious food and worth standing around for.
I often took this side street as a shortcut when weaving around Republique. Paris is not laid out like a grid at all, the streets go every which way but once I got my bearings I felt fairly proud of myself. I also once ran down this street in the middle of the night during a light rainstorm. The road was quiet and the cobblestones were lit by the hanging lamps overhead. I had forgotten my umbrella at a cafe and was hoping, hours later, that no one had walked off with it. I arrived at the cafe, breathless, a few minutes later. The umbrella was hanging on the back of a chair, just where I had left it.
I liked coming to Chez Prune if I wanted a lighter snack-type dinner. Typically I’d have the cheese plate and a glass or two of either Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. I’d sit at a little table in the very back so I could see the whole restaurant. As you can see, it is on a busy corner with people coming in and out to say hello to friends or smoke at the outdoor tables. The service is friendly but very laid back, so go here if you’re not in any hurry to get any place else right away. I’d just sit at the back, take it all in, and write in my journal. Bliss.
Up the street from Prune is this utterly fantastic bookstore. Lots of books on photography, art, design, type, and awesome fashion magazines, too. It’s kind of crazy to buy books when you are traveling internationally because they weigh your suitcase down with a quickness. So I limited myself to one book, one magazine and three journals.
The Seine River snakes through the middle of Paris. Many smaller canals feed into the river, and in Republique the local canal is the Canal St. Martin. Every evening (especially on the weekends) the banks of the canal are absolutely full of people. Although the atmosphere is still very urban, it feels like a park or even a beach.
This little stationary shop on Rue du Lancry has everything you need for writing long hand. I love stores like this so I was all smiles browsing the cards, journals, notebooks and all kinds of pens and pencil cases.
La Pinata is a cute little party supply store. It skews a bit more kid-centric but it’s so colorful and happy inside that it just makes you smile to walk around and brainstorm. It’s where I bought those packs of extra-large sized confetti. They also had piñatas shaped like popsicles and ice cream cones. Too bad those are not suitcase-friendly.
My apartment was on the top floor of a six-story building. There was no elevator so many times I day I climbed the spiraling wood and wrought iron staircase. It was painted bright red, and I loved this detail. Paris is beautiful in places you wouldn’t even think to look.
I had such a magical time in Paris (and Republique) that I bought some ‘thank-you’ roses for my Airbnb hosts at a florist on Rue du Lancry. I know I’ll return some day.