RUE OBERKAMPF – A VIBRANT PARISIAN NEIGHBOURHOOD

The Cirque d’Hiver. 

Beyond the iconic Place de la Republique—where Parisians gathered in their thousands after the 2015 attacks on their city—is a fascinating network of streets crammed with some of the city’s hippest venues, chic bars, great bistros, old craft workshops and up-and-coming designer boutiques.  In Paris’ 11th arrondissement, rue Oberkampf and the streets around it offer an interesting mix of all of these, plus an increasing number of high-end food shops and any number of art galleries.  Located between Le Marais and Menilmontant, this is a young, dynamic district that has become one of the capital’s liveliest areas.  It’s a neighbourhood that is still incredibly local and not bombarded by tourists trying to take the perfect selfie in front of a great monument!

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TWO SECRET VILLAGES IN PARIS

La Butte aux Cailles is a delightful location for a quiet stroll. 

If you’ve been to Paris a few times, no doubt you’ve taken in the big, headline monuments and sites such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, walked along the Champs Elysees and shopped ’til you dropped in Galeries Lafayette.  These iconic places are internationally famous for a very good reason, but for your next visit, I’d like to suggest some hidden little pockets to explore that most likely you’ve never heard of.  There are a number of charming little havens of tranquility that were once small communities in their own right, but have since been absorbed into the fabric of one of the most densely populated cities on the planet.  Such little gems are what really make Paris the unique, much-loved city that it is today.

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THE REMARKABLE LIFE OF JOSEPHINE BAKER – CABARET STAR, RESISTANCE HEROINE, ACTIVIST AND OWNER OF A DORDOGNE CHATEAU

Josephine wearing her famous banana costume.

Iconic entertainer of the Jazz Age, famous for her risqué performances, Josephine Baker’s extraordinary story is one of perseverance, bravery, and incredible talent.  She was a force to be reckoned with, whether fighting racism in her native America or spying on top Nazis.  She found new ways to challenge those who sought to diminish or silence her, and innumerable ways to both charm and resist.  She has now been honoured in the Panthéon, Paris.

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WHEN A PARIS PÉNICHE IS MORE THAN JUST A BARGE

A variety of boats & peniches moored along the Seine in Paris. 

One of the most pleasant ways to relax in Paris is to take a stroll along the banks of the Seine.  It’s a busy, working river with a constant flow of craft of all descriptions.  Ranging from the many tourist boats crammed with sightseers enjoying the unique perspective of the city’s great landmarks from the river, to serious, business-like barges riding low in the water, filled with anything from building site rubble to bales of shredded paper heading to the recycling depot, while others are piled high with freight.  Many also have homey touches such as pot plants, plastic garden furniture, laundry fluttering in the breeze, and perhaps a small car and bicycles perched on the back deck.  As well, there are other barges, tied up dockside, that are clearly used as floating homes.  Aside from these though, there are a number of traditional barges, or péniches, that have been converted to quite different uses.

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GREAT FOOD MARKETS TO DISCOVER IN PARIS

Springtime at Marche d’Aligre: perfect asparagus & morels. 

One of the great pleasures of a visit to Paris is spending time exploring the many wonderful food markets.  You can take your pick from 69 open-air and 13 covered markets in the city, meaning that some arrondissements have more than one market.  Everyone has their personal favourites, and we certainly have ours, but we also love to visit other markets in various parts of the city to see what’s on offer.  Produce is always seasonal and high quality, and one of the fascinating things is to observe which vendors attract long queues while others are slower.  Each market’s produce will usually reflect the profile of its neighbourhood, which means you can find the flavours of the West African community in the Marché Dejean in the 18th arr. or German smoked ham at Marché Saint-Martin in the 10th.  So take plenty of cash, a big supply of re-usable shopping bags, and head off to discover some edible delights.

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