The vibrant, residential 11th arrondissement encompasses some famous squares (Bastille, Nation and République) as well as the Oberkampf district. Cultural highlights and fun venues sit alongside gourmet restaurants and eco-friendly shops. Let’s take a look around.
Home to three of Paris’s most famous squares, the 11th arrondissement is an area where Parisians gather to relax and enjoy themselves. The first square, place de la Bastille, was the site of the Bastille fortress, destroyed shortly after the French Revolution. Today, it plays host to everything from parties and concerts to fairs and charity events. In the centre stands the colonne de Juillet (July column), topped with a famous statue, the Génie de la Bastille, or Spirit of Liberty. The second square, place de la Nation, and its monumental bronze statue by Jules Dalou are two major symbols of the French Republic. Consequently, the square is often used as the rally point for demonstrations in Paris. It is laid out as a huge garden, landscaped in a variety of different styles. The third square, place de la République, has in its centre the impressive Monument à la République. This is where the party crowd meets ready for a night on the town. The layout of the square has recently been changed to devote more space to pedestrians and less to traffic.
Culture takes pride of place in the 11th arrondissement, with something for all tastes: street art, concert and show venues, an art centre and art galleries. You’ll even find culture in the open air, with a giant mural by the artist Ludo opposite 71 rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi and the Mur Oberkampf, a wall on which an association regularly invites artists to create new works of street art. Head for the Atelier des Lumières, a former foundry transformed into a digital art centre, to experience something unique: immersive monumental exhibitions.
In rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, the Maison des Métallos was created to make culture accessible to all, with concerts, encounters, shows and festivals. The Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione in the Oberkampf district has been wowing circus fans for more than a century. Close by, in boulevard Voltaire, the Bataclan concert hall is the neighbourhood’s other legendary address. Built by the architect Charles Duval in 1864, it stages small-scale concerts by top names from the French and international music scene.
To explore LGBT+ culture, make your way to Les mots à la Bouche bookshop at 37 rue Sainte-Ambroise, world-famous for its collection of works on this theme. Bar M’sieurs Dames at 30 avenue Parmentier is a gay-friendly bar with a party atmosphere, well known to Parisians.
You’ll find some of Paris’s top restaurants spread around the highly cosmopolitan 11th arrondissement. Whether you opt for fine dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant, a relaxed bistro or a social enterprise, eastern Paris’s gastronomic scene sets out to inspire.
In the Roquette district, chef Kaori Endo invites you to enjoy Japanese family cooking at Le Petit Keller (13 rue Keller). Ma’lucia (54 rue Basfroi) offers authentic specialities from southern Italy. Also not to be missed are Manufacture Café (12 rue Saint-Sabin) and Manufacture Chocolat (40 rue de la Roquette), run by the famous chef Alain Ducasse. Customers come both for the products and just out of curiosity! Another celebrity chef, Cyril Lignac, also focuses on chocolate at his Chocolaterie (25 rue Chanzy) and offers his signature creations at his Pâtisserie (24 rue Paul Bert). At Pianovins (46 rue Trousseau), chefs Michel Roncière and Eric Mancio focus on producing cuisine that is both traditional and carefully crafted. Le Mansouria in rue Faidherbe is a great place to experience the spicy flavours of Moroccan food.
Rue Saint-Maur and the surrounding streets are home to some excellent restaurants which draw their inspirations from around the world: Franco-Asian cuisine at Le Servan (32 rue Saint-Maur), a new take on Italian cuisine at the modernist bistrattoria Aglio e Olio, traditional French cuisine at Massale (both at 5 rue Guillaume Bertrand) and French-influenced pizzas at Oxymore (60 rue Saint-Maur).
The area around rue de Charonne is another place to find excellent restaurants, offering adventurous cuisine executed to a high standard. Le Septime (neo-bistro) and Clamato (fish), both at 80 rue de Charonne, are two of Paris’s most ‘in’ restaurants. At Automne (11 rue Richard Lenoir), the Japanese chef Nobuyuki Akishige offers strictly seasonal cuisine. The concept restaurant Fulgurances-L’Adresse offers up-and-coming chefs exposure via its reasonably-priced menu. Aux Bons Crus sets out to mimic a roadside restaurant and serves high-quality traditional French fare.
In the multicultural rue Oberkampf district, Franco-Korean chef Pierre Sang enjoys sharing his enthusiasm for wine at his two restaurants (55 rue Oberkampf and rue Gambey), while at Botanique (71 rue de la Folie-Méricourt), the cuisine is strongly influenced by nature. At Qui Plume La Lune (50 rue Amelot), the chef’s ‘freestyle’ menus are again devised with a focus on fresh produce and small-scale producers.
In the Voltaire district, La Mi Fa (33 rue Pétion) takes ‘bistronomy’ to a new level. The menu changes every day to reflect the chef’s mood and ideas, as well as the seasonal produce available. Les Cuistots Migrateurs (81 boulevard Voltaire) is a social enterprise: it serves up international cuisine prepared by refugee chefs.
With its eco-friendly addresses, craft villages and cycle paths, the 11th arrondissement has a strong focus on sustainable development.
Buzzing rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine and the maze of courtyards and passageways around it are still home to artisan cabinetmakers, lacquerers, gilders and upholsterers who carry on the traditions of the area. At 37 bis rue de Montreuil, the vast cour de l’Industrie (known as ‘37 Bis’) houses some fifty workshops for artists and crafters. Through their work, all the occupants (sculptors, ceramicists, cutlers, gilders, cabinet makers and more) help to keep this bustling craft village alive.
The 11th arrondissement has numerous eco-friendly and ethical shops. Les Glaneuses (18 boulevard Voltaire) is committed to eliminating waste and even offers a rental service for items you know you’ll only need once! The Naked Shop (75 rue Oberkampf) is Paris’s first zero-waste liquids store. It offers packaging-free cosmetics and cleaning products. Mood (141 rue de Charonne) and Day by Day (131bis rue de la Roquette) are packaging-free grocery stores. Altervojo (127 avenue Parmentier) is a traditional-style grocery store, certified organic since 2013. You can buy local, seasonal flowers from Désirée, an ethical flower shop committed to supporting local floriculture (5 rue de la Folie-Méricourt).
The 11th arrondissement champions sustainable transport. There is an excellent network of cycle paths, constantly extended to offer additional routes and enhanced user safety. You’ll find the one-way tracks between place de la République and place de la Nation particularly pleasant to pedal.