Quartier de La Bastille
The Place de la Bastille symbolises the French Revolution. It separates the Marais quartier from the Faubourg Saint-Antoine quartier. There is plenty to see in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, you can take a walk, go shopping, wine and dine on this long artery of the city. The quartier used to be the home of cabinet makers and joiners and you can still see many signs of their time there. You need to take a peek into the courtyards and alleyways that criss-cross the area where you can still find old workshops, cobbled yards and signs of the industrial past.
Points of interest: Colonne de Juillet, Opéra Bastille, Maison de Victor Hugo, Pavillon de l’Arsenal, Mémorial de la Shoah.
Our foodie friend Jean Pierre shares his favourite restaurants with us:
La Gazzetta: this thirties style restaurant is presided over by talented Swedish chef Petter Nilsson, who has amazing technique and plenty of intuition. His style is simple and tasty. 29 rue de Cotte, Paris 12ème. +33 (0)1 43 47 47 05
Le Paris Main d'Or: famous for Corsican specialities. 133 rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Paris 11ème. +33 (0)1 44 68 04 68
Le Cotte Rôti: le Cotte Rôti is like its chef, Nicolas Michel, welcoming and refreshing. The menu changes with the seasons and depending on what delights the market has to offer and gives new life to some old bistro favourites. 1 rue de Cotte, Paris 12ème. +33 (0)1 43 45 06 37
Also worth a visit: Bofinger, Au Bougnat, Mon Vieil Ami, Le Gorille Blanc and L'Ambroisie.
The Bastille, Bercy and Nation quartiers
This area includes the Arsenal, Bastille, Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Gare de Lyon and Bercy, the quartier de la Nation, and the Bois de Vincennes.
These quartiers are all very different and famous for their diversity. From the architecture and city planning point of view there is everything from the modern Opéra building to a Belle Epoque restaurant, from an old railway track transformed into a green footpath to old wine warehouses converted to shopping centres, from a forest of high-rise office blocksto traditional Parisian residential areas that have remained virtually unchanged since the 19th century.
The population of the area is no less diverse. The trendy people tend to hang out around the Bastille, the ambiance is rather more gentrified around the Basin de l’Arsenal, while the working classes and the 'bobos' (bourgeois bohème) flock around the Place d’Aligre and Place de Reuilly-Diderot. It is perhaps there that the 12th arrondissement shows its most attractive side.
Le quartier de l’Arsenal is home to the Caserne des Célestin on 18 boulevard Henri-IV, the library of Arsenal on 1 rue de Sully, the Pavillon de l’Arsenal on 21 boulevard Morland, the Bassin de l’Arsenal in the Paris-Arsenal marina and our favourite foodie destination the Cucina Napoletana at 6 rue Castex.
Le quartier de la Bastille still has the remains of the fortress between Rue Saint-Antoine and Boulevard Henri-IV, the Colonne de Juillet in the centre of Place de la Bastille, Boulevard Beaumarchais, Opéra Bastille, the Viaduc des Arts from 1 to 129 avenue Dausmesnil and not to be missed, the Promenade Plantée from Avenue Daumesnil to the Bois de Vincennes
Le quartier du faubourg Saint-Antoine is home to Rue de la Roquette, Rue de Lappe which really comes to life at night, Rue Daval, Rue Keller, Rue de Charonne, the church of Sainte-Marguerite. Place du Docteur-Beclère with the Fontaine de Montreuil, is a place with a variety of shops and a diverse population giving it great charm, all the more so for being off the main tourist beat. We mustn't forget Rue du faubourg Saint-Antoine which is worth a stroll towards Square Trousseau, Passage de la Main-d’Or, Passage du Chantier and do stay a while in front of the shop window of Ligne Roset on 25 rue du faubourg Saint-Antoine, with its beautiful ironwork and huge glass roof.
Good places to eat:
Cucina Napoletana au 6 rue Castex 75004 Paris
Bofinger au 5-7 rue de la Bastille 75004 Paris
Dalloyau au 5 boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris
Les Banquettes au 3 rue de Prague 75012 Paris
Sardegna a Tavola au 1 rue de Cotte 75012 Paris
Entre les Vignes au 27 ter, boulevard Diderot 75012 Paris
Le Bar à Soupes au 33 rue de Charonne 75011 Paris
Le Bistrot du Peintre au 116 avenue Ledru-Rollin 75011 Pari