Explore Paris’s 18th arrondissement

The 18th is a vibrant district which is undergoing major change, with intriguing new projects being rolled out.

The 18th in northern Paris is a vibrant, multicultural arrondissement popular with families, which is undergoing major change. Its districts are attractive and intriguing, with many innovative and unusual projects being rolled out.

A multicultural arrondissement

The lively, cosmopolitan Goutte d’Or district is known for its haberdashery shops and exotic food shops, but also for its edgy new clothes shops, organic canteens and cultural spaces. The authentically working-class Rue Myrha is a good place to sample a vegan burger or shop for Afro-streetwear from the brand Château Rouge. Many ethical fashion designers have shops on the nearby Rue des Gardes, also known as ‘fashion street’.

In front of Square Léon, there is an unusual community-run art gallery – the Echomusée (21 rue Cavé), an entirely local artistic resource centre. Volunteers of every stripe have come together to make this socially engaged project work – local residents, street artists (Jérôme Ménager, Monsieur Chat, Misstic and Popay) and musicians such as Denis Lavant and Fantazio.

As to architecture, the Saint-Bernard de la Chapelle church (11 Rue Affre) was designed by the architect Auguste-Joseph Magne in the neo-Gothic style. The church was built in the 19th century to provide a monument in the centre of a new village. It has been a listed building since 2015.

To learn more about contemporary Islamic culture, head to the Institut des Cultures d’Islam (ICI). This City of Paris cultural establishment is a contemporary art centre as well as a conversational and learning space. Language and art classes are held here too – modern standard Arabic, calligraphy, Wolof and Arab-Andalusian song. It also has a community-run restaurant and tea room, the Table Ouverte. Open to all, it runs on the ‘buy one, give one’ social and solidarity economy principle whereby a meal is donated to a person in need for every meal purchased.

Dating to 1850, the Lavoir Moderne Parisien is a small theatre with multi-disciplinary programming (dance, theatre, performance and music) that places the focus on contemporary creation and young emerging artistes. It is the only theatre in the Goutte d’Or.

Located at 14 Boulevard de la Chapelle, the Chapelle XIV is an art and design gallery, record shop and printing studio under one roof. It is a unique concept devised by the electronic music collective Yoyaku.

A food-lover’s arrondissement 

Over the past few years the 18th has become a benchmark for sustainable and inclusive gastronomy.

The La Chapelle covered market, also known as Marché de l’Olive, was totally renovated in 2010. It has twenty-odd sellers of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products including cheese, ethnic food and more. The atmosphere is relaxed and convivial. A short distance from the market, the shop En Vrac (2 rue de l’Olive) is bringing back the tradition of buying wine in bulk. They have a selection of the best natural wines.

Now you don’t have to leave Paris to encounter genuine cheesemakers. At the Laiterie de la Chapelle, all the cheeses are 100% organic and made in Paris. Their three delicious cheeses – tomme cheese La Chapelle, Dormoy and Pajol – are selling well. The dairy works with a local farm, the Ferme de Launay in Vexin in the Ile-de-France region.

Similarly, the Brasserie de la Goutte d’Or (28 Rue de la Goutte d’Or) sells the products it makes. A pioneer of the craft beer movement in Paris, the brasserie draws inspiration from the flavours of this multicultural and festive arrondissement to brew its craft beers. There’s a beer to suit all tastes, from spicy to hopped or collaboration beers.

An unusual arrondissement 

The 18th is an arrondissement full of unusual places with many a surprise in store.

The Petite Ceinture abandoned railway, filled with wild plants and rich in biodiversity, is a nature trail in the city, perfect for walks. The Hasard Ludique, located in one of the former stations along the line (128 boulevard de Saint-Ouen), is a hybrid venue – bar/restaurant, show venue and studio rolled into one.

Near to the Montmartre cemetery, the Villa des Arts, an artists’ residence since the end of the 19th century, still has fifty or so studios. Its most illustrious residents in times past were Paul Cézanne, Paul Signac, Raoul Dufy and Francis Picabia. The Studio 28 on Montmartre Hill is an arthouse cinema with decor by Jean Cocteau. This charming cinema shows current releases and classic films and hosts themed movie nights. Visit its pleasant winter garden while you’re there.

On Rue des Martyrs, the Divan du Monde-Madame Arthur hosts rock, pop and electronic music concerts and club nights while the cabaret section puts on a musical performed by a troupe of singers and dancers in drag.

The Pont Saint-Ange bridge over the railway lines of the Gare du Nord has now been transformed into an open-air exhibition space. A fresh selection of blown-up photographs is displayed every quarter. Collectors from around the world come to Les Libraires Associés (3 rue Pierre Lhermitte), to find rare books and vintage children’s books. The astonishing shop Kata has clearance sales of shoes in a range of prices and styles in a former Belle Epoque theatre.

At the beer bar Les Mah-Boules (14 rue de Jessaint), regulars and passers-by can sip a beer while throwing a boule. A long sand-covered boules pitch is the main attraction at this one-of-a-kind place located just a short distance from the Bouffes du Nord.

Something really offbeat: Les Cognées (5 rue Stephenson) initiates Parisians into the art of axe throwing. This sport from Quebec is the perfect way test your aim, let off some steam and have a good time. Just listen to the friendly advice from the instructors.

To experience nature in the city, head to the eco-friendly educational farms in the 18th. The Ferme Urbaine (urban farm) on Square Alain Bashung and the Ferme Urbaine in the Jardin Eole provide an entertaining and instructive green outing for children and adults alike. Meeting all kinds of animals – hens, sheep, rabbits etc. – is the highlight of the experience. The Ferme Urbaine at the Jardin René Binet raises awareness among visitors of urban agriculture and livestock farming in the city.

Another unusual place is the skate spot in the 18th. Located on Boulevard Ney, it is the biggest covered skatepark in France. It provides an area of 3,000 m² for rollerblading, skating and riding a BMX bike.