I’ve been to Paris a few times, and have seen most of the sights, so when I found cheap Eurostar tickets there wasn’t much on the agenda except good food, wine, cocktails and soaking up the Christmas atmosphere.
The 11th arrondissement is full of great bars and restaurants, and it’s within walking distance to the Marais. A quick search for accommodation led me to Hotel Fabric in Oberkampf. A former textile factory, it’s a beautifully designed hotel with very friendly staff, and some great touches like free coffee and snacks in the lobby, a welcome drink from their honesty bar and a private hammam (it’s free but you need to book it).
We arrived at the hotel quite early so we dropped our bags, had a much needed coffee and popped out for a quintessential Parisienne lunch of steak tartare and red wine. We found aneighbourhood bistro, Les P’tites Indecises – cheap, cheerful and buzzing with locals with a decent menu of classics.
Back to the hotel for a power nap in preparation for the evening’s cocktail crawl. I usually check the World’s 50 Best Bars list for recommendations, and there were a few close by. We grabbed dinner on the way, delicious pizza at La Briciola, where the charming manager managed to get us a table without a reservation.
Suitably prepped, we moved on to Candelaria. I had been before, and had my favourite cocktail of all time, La Guêpe Vert (The Green Wasp). I made a reservation as the bar gets packed, which was definitely a good move. You enter the bar through the taco restaurant at the front, which can be hard to find! It didn’t disappoint, the place was buzzing, the staff are super welcoming, and the cocktails are as good as I remember. Still my favourite!
Next stop, Little Red Door, just round the corner. This is a more serious bar, with no standing, so you may have to queue to get in. The cocktails are excellent, and the menu is a work of art. Instead of a list of drinks and ingredients, artists were commissioned to draw their interpretation of each cocktail, and you choose your drink according to how you respond to the pictures (did somebody say hipster?). You can cheat and peek at the ingredients if you really want to…
On the way home we stumbled upon a really fun and chilled out bar, Lucky Bastard, with a nice friendly crowd. We didn’t eat there but the food looked really good – one for the list!
Next morning the heads weren’t too sore, and we ate a quick breakfast at the hotel and headed for Père Lachaise cemetery in search of some of my heroes – namely Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. It was icy cold, and it was suitably atmospheric, walking past avenues of statues and mausoleums. We searched out Chopin, Balzac, Edith Piaf and Modigliani but we totally failed to find Sarah Bernhardt…
With the culture box ticked, it was time for lunch. A friend recommended Allard, one of Alain Ducasse’s bistros, in Saint-Germain-des-Près. We snagged a table online the night before, and we were squeezed into a table in a very cozy and old-fashioned dining room. It’s so intimate you can’t help chatting to your fellow diners, and there was a good mix of locals and tourists. Including Benedict Cumberbatch who was having lunch with his wife! We had a cracking lunch of snails, duck with olives, a delicious Pinot Noir and the best damn profiteroles in the world! It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it for a treat.
We meandered back to our hotel, through Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame, and past all the Christmas lights and buzzing streets – including the ubiquitous breakdancers that I seem to find on every trip to Paris!
Back to the Marais on Saturday evening for cocktails, oysters and small plates at Le Mary Celeste. We didn’t book so we just managed to squeeze in at the bar – I’d recommend reserving this one. With time for one last bar after dinner we headed for La Barav – short for La Bar a Vin. This is a great place in the Haut Marais, with maybe the most welcoming staff I have experienced anywhere – not just Paris! They do wines by the glass, or you can choose a bottle from the shop next door, and enjoy it with cheese and charcuterie.
Next morning we had a quick hammam to cancel out the effects of the food and alcohol (I wish!), then walked back to the station. We took a wrong turn, but no harm as we found a great coffee shop, Blackburn coffee and we saw some cool street art!
All in all we packed a lot into an amazing 48 hours in Paris, and hope you find some of the recommendations useful. Please let me know if you try any of them!