Paris, Up Close & Personal’s first guest post is from Daisy de Plume of THATLou. Daisy de Plume is the founder + creative director of THATLou, which runs themed Treasure Hunts at the Louvre (among other museums). You can find her on her blog www.thatlou.com, twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. She lives on Faubourg St Denis with her Argentine husband and their toddler, Storsh, who shows his belly on request in any of his three languages.
The neighborhood of FSD (Faubourg St Denis) is in the southwestern corner of the 10th Arrt, just east of the 9th Arrt and above the 2ndArrondissement, 10 minutes by foot from another market-street covered in September’s Neighborhood Guide series, rue Montorgueil. It is grittier with a more vibrant nightlife than Montorgueil, less Yuppie and more Bobo. “Bobo” stands for Bohemian Bourgeois and represent a class of 20 to 30 year old Parisian who tend to work in the media, advertising, fashion, design. Politically they spew an open socialist lingo and tend to be over-educated, but despite having run-down leather jackets, dusty hair and intentionally worn jeans if you take a peek at the quality of their shoes you see that they’re not so close to the poverty line as they’d like you to think. They have a poof to their cheeks and an attitude of scruffy indifference. FSD is a budding hood which, for the moment, embodies the French Bobo, and has plenty of bars and restos that reflect their idea of cool, often with a tip to their hat to both NY and Brooklyn.
Among the grime there is a grand entrance to the heart of the quartier with the 17th century arch of Porte St Denis, reading Ludovico Magno (“To Louis (XIV) the Great”). The neighborhood is small, running from the Grands Boulevards, where the arch is, and going up to rue de Paradis, stitched in to the west by rue d’Hauteville, and filled in with plenty of winding passages. The following Neighborhood Guide focuses exclusively on food and drink in this small swath of Paris.
The actual street of FSD is a multicultural, vibrant, still functioning market street, convenient with all the usual amenities you’d imagine — fruit vendors screaming their sales, poissionnières (fish mongers) and a whole cavalcade of Halal bucherie. There’s also a little “Maison de Gastronomie” empire called Julhès, named for its proprietor, Nicolas Julhès, who specializes in whiskeys and rums, as well as having a fromagerie that people cross town for (as he conducts well-respected and informative champagne, wine, whiskey, etc tastings). I say empire because Julhès has now spread to various shops along FSD selling handmade pastas and catering, a delicious patisserie as well as gourmand goods at a chic shop around the corner on rue du Fbg St Martin.
There are plenty of wine bars and bar bars that are a pleasure for either a quick one or one that coaxes you into the night. All of the following have charcuterie or even a burger, but none of the following am I recommending as a resto (because that, my friends, is where I shall indulge in some description!). Vino Loco is my newest fave, with its elegant muted walls, comfortable cozy lighting and mellow communal wood table. They have plenty of Spanish and Argentine wines and service as warm and friendly as you’d find in either country. As one would guess, Vino Loco is a bar à vin (espagnol), but for a mojito or a hardier cocktail another fave is La Quincaillerie which is larger physically (the French describe its design as “Loft”) and brighter, with un-matching chairs and a great buzz both at the large crescent bar or at table. Down the road is Paris’s mecca for hipsters, Chez Jeannette, with its retro feel, cool-cat clientele, Formica tables, and original zinc bar. Besides copping attitude over a drink you can get a Jeannette burger for 14€ or a generous-sized portion of charcuterie for 8€. Recently there was a police raid shutting down Chez Jeannette, Marui7 (just opposite), l’Inconnu and Au Xieme for a fortnight, aiding the neighbourhood in a battle against going the route of Oberkampf.Last but not least on the nightlife scene is the famous no-frills Jazz boite, New Morning. They have low-key bands that play free jazz, fusion and funk, but also have had the likes of Prince, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Spike Lee and Nina Simone. If music’s your thing, this is your place.
Le Daily Syrien newspaper shop is also a favourite, because they have deliciously strong coffee and I find it pleasant and neighborhoodly to sit for at least a few articles at their communal table, sometimes with a falafel. The love with which they designed the place last year, laying lovely tile floors, makes me hope they make a success of it, although one gripe is that they still don’t sell The Economist, despite regular (perhaps singlehandedly) requests!
Lunch – A Mini United Nations
The variety of cuisines you can sup on is inexhaustible. To start with the cuisine the predated the bobos, we must pay reverence to the gorgeous, if run-down 19th Century glass-covered Passage Brady, which serves as Paris’s India Town, rich with the smells and colours and textures belying India itself. To move a bit northwest of India you can have some delicious Kurdish chomp at Urfa Dürüm with its adorable shin-height stools. More nations: Turkish (a phenomenal “Balkavaci Riza” on Cours des Petits Ecuries, going north/south, where they only sell different types of Baklava), Pakistani, Mauritian (l’Ile aux Cerfs in the art deco Passage du Prado), Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese-French (Nanashi being a delish organic fusion canteen, which is uber fashionable for brunch, PUCP covered it here) and even Italian which looks like a lovely loft resto straight out of Billyburg, Brooklyn (Lucky Luciano – excellent pizzas perfect for a Sunday night).
The American in Paris – comfort food for the homesick
For the American who feels homesick there is plenty of comfort food here, too. The stylish burger joint Paris-New York just opened this month with its sleek design and simple menu (5 burgers, including a veggie burger at 11€ a pop. My fave is Smokey Blue with bacon, blue cheese and carmelised onions. The staff are pleasant – taking my FB advice indulgently, they don’t really need my help, already having a starred review in Time Out). As a native New Yorker I can only eat hotdogs from Grays Papaya, but I’ve been told that the Coney Island at Hot-Dog House is great with chili, red peppers and sundried tomatoes (The French sometimes call Hot Dogs “Chien Chaud” – too funny). I’ve certainly had plenty of freshly squeezed carrot, apple, ginger juices (4€) in the adorable tiny place with a robot theme. Last but not least we mustn’t overlook the best bagels in town, found at Epicerie de la Cour. I’m a regular at this place in the summer, finding refuge on this leafy, traffic-less passage to work when my toddler’s acting up, but Epicerie is a bit of an odd one. They have a small “Ruche” (farmer’s market cooperative) that delivers organic veggies on Tuesdays between 5 and 7.45, they have the aforementioned divine salmon, crème fraiche bagels (4€), and then they also have a kitschy little store off to the side of the cavernous deli, which sells Japanese-designed cups, handmade bags, ribbons for the hair and children’s clothes sometimes. Rather bizarre – but it’s a very kid-friendly place (Storsh gets to join me sometimes, instead of my computer).
French food to cross town for
There are two Brasseries in the hood, original to Paris’s Belle Epoque Brasseries well worth a trek across town. Brasserie Flo, though now owned by a chain, is my all time favourite Brasserie in Paris with its cozy wood-paneled walls, adorable 1903 gnome mural and formal but friendly old waiters, as rotund as any Alsatian (its region) could be. Located on the cobble-stoned Passage des Petites-Ecuries, my husband and I would eat here regularly (he’d always focus on their famous choucroute) before we moved here. Another divinely decorated place is Chez Julien, with its rich Art Nouveau swirls and mammoth turn of the century mirrors. Both places are core to Paris’s history with numerous famous characters having patronized them both.
Then I’ll end on a high, the high of Pan. Opened last summer to a tremendous buzz, the Parisian fashion tribe flocked to rue Martel. It’s understandable – the place is gorgeous, a design diva in a city where restaurants are often as beautiful as they are good. With large industrial windows, this former chandelier atelier has lacquered ceilings reflecting the stunning, just-right lighting. With a mix between Danish Modern (chairs), East Berlin (exposed walls, elegant brass pipes), and Art Deco (divine blonde and black wood floors, some original chandeliers in the back), Pan did not fail to impress. Started by Ludivine Billaud, who runs Le Look the un-reasonably fashionable sandwicherie just opposite, the menu is written on a mirror across the large open room. I had the best foie gras than I’ve had in eons (I order it often), and my coquielles et noix de St Jacques, though somewhat sparse in a nouvelle cuisine sort of serving, were also delicious. Our Gerard Depardieu waiter was as charming as he was portly. Dinner for three with two bottles of wine was 200€, which in my book was money well spent. But the food has received mixed reviews, with L’Express’s M Gaudry saying the menu’s better on paper than in person. I would beg to differ, although as the menu changes daily you’re certainly kept on your toes!
Julhès – (HQ) 54, rue du Fbg St Denis, tél: 09.50.32.06.32
Vino Loco – 8, rue de Paradis, sans telephone
La Quincaillerie – 76, rue du Fbg St Denis, tél: 09 82 43 29 40
Chez Jeannette – 47, rue du Fbg St Denis, tél: 01 47 70 30 89
New Morning – 7-9, rue des Petites Écuries, tél: 01 45 23 51 41
Le Daily Syrien – 55, rue du Fbg St Denis
Urfa Dürüm – 56, rue du Fbg St Denis
Baklavaci Riza – 5, passage des Petits Écuries, tél: 06 25 91 37 55
l’Ile aux Cerfs – 8-10, passage du Prado, tél: 01 44 83 98 20
Lucky Luciano – 1, cour des Petites Écuries, tél: 09 51 55 73 41
Paris-New York – 50, rue du Fbg St Denis
Hot-Dog House – 63, rue du Fbg St Denis
Epicerie de la Cour – 6, cour des Petites Écuries
Nanashi – 31, rue de Paradis, tél: 01 40 22 05 55
Brasserie Flo – 7, cour des Petites Écuries, tél: 01 47 70 13 59
Chez Julien – 16, rue du Fbg St Denis, tél: 01 47 70 12 06
Pan – 12, rue Martel, tél: 09 52 51 63 70
Le Look – 17, rue Martel, tél: 09 50 10 20 31