My ’Hood: The 15th Arrondissement
I live somewhat off the tourist path in the 15th Arrondissement of Paris. We are geographically the largest arrondissement in the city, with a population greater than that of the city of Bordeaux, and we are the only arrondissement without one single monument. Which kind of explains the lack of tourists.
That said, when we have visitors, they are always thrilled to discover a bit of the “real” Paris while remaining in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Thanks to the lack of monuments, rent is more affordable, which means reasonable hotel rates and excellent dining options from some of the city’s up-and-coming, yet very young, chefs.
For hotels you’ll find the très chic Marquis on a quiet street just a block or two from the Champ de Mars. Or the practical Pullman hotel, a block from the iron lady herself. And the Citadines apartment hotel for families is not far, either. While slightly off the beaten path, all of these hotels are a comfortable walk to the Eiffel Tower and the museums at the Trocadéro. St.-Germain-des-Près, the Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe are direct metro rides away.
Dining-out options are hard to share, because we have some incredible treasures that have not yet been invaded by the Anglophone foodie press, which means we can still get last-minute reservations. But I’ll be generous and let you know that the restaurant voted the best bistro in Paris by Le Figaro is Jadis, right here in the 15th. At cocktail hour, I occasionally head to Le Cosmos for a good dose of neighborhood cheer and a bit of English, spoken by the students and teachers of the local bilingual school. Along the Motte Picquet is a series of restaurants, there to serve visitors of the Eiffel Tower, but they are great for us locals, too. Jacques Chirac and carnivores in general love Le Père Claude, while the local youth fill Le Zinc nightly. The nearby La Véraison, with its open kitchen and friendly chef, would be a treat even without the exceptional kitchen.
If you want to cook at home, there are some outstanding purveyors on the rue de Lourmel, from the boulevard de Grenelle to the rue Fondary. I adore the local cheese shop of Laurent Dubois, who was distinguished as a Meilleur Ouvrier de France and has a brie with truffles that makes me weak in the knees. And I can never resist visiting Cyril, our local expert on affordable wines from boutique wineries, at La Cave de Lourmel. If all else fails, there is the extensive outdoor market every Wednesday and Sunday at the Motte Picquet metro.
Teens love shopping along the rue du Commerce, with its extensive selection of affordable boutiques, while my father never misses a chance to visit the weekly antique book market at the Parc Georges Brassens and I can’t resist the art-deco works at the Musée Bourdelle. Imagine: a museum dedicated to a man famous for his monumental pieces, in a monument-free zone. It’s a Paris-dox.
133, ave Emile Zola.
01 45 75 39 42.
61, ave de la Motte Picquet.
01 47 34 54 26.