Aligre is what Bastille probably was back in the 70s (I’m guessing), which is to say Bastille is for regular tourists who think they’re cool and Aligre is for cool tourists who are almost Paris-level blasé but won’t quite succeed because they’re still tourists and smiling at all the cheesemongers at Marché d’Aligre.
At the epicenter of Quartier d’Aligre, Rue de Cotte is bar and resto central. Do & Riz is a bobo-cute hole in the wall and has the best bo bun ever. Le Chat Bossu is that kinda rare breed of bistro that is simultaneously good, pretty, friendly and non-touristy (but nothing is touristy in Quartier d’Aligre). A few steps down, there are 2 brew joints (Nul Bar Ailleurs, Troll Café) to wash down the bo bun or the french bun with great beers and great drunken Parisians. If you’re feeling particularly fancy and rich, head to Michelin-approved Virtus for a chic and cozy meal. Or go full dive-bistro (with deep French charm, quand-même) at Le Charolais. And to finish off the foodie theme with a slash, there’s a slick Japanese Knives shop just up the street (boringly named Japanese Knife Company).
On Rue Théophile Roussel is my fave bar à vins (after my absolute fave which is l’Avant Comptoir at Odéon, which saved me from total loneliness back when I first moved to Paris and had zero friends. But that’s another story and another ‘hood). This one is called Le Baron Rouge — authentic, ‘populaire’ (not populist, ahem) unpretentious wine vibe, ‘planches’ — cheese and charcuterie boards, a staff that keeps it real, standing room around upcycled barrel tables, and really good affordable oysters right outside. Je me kiffe.
On Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine I love Sabah market, a treasure trove of middle eastern and hard to find exotic ingredients. Across the way is East Mamma. It’s super hip as all Parisians (and cool tourists) know, and there’s always a line past 12 on the dot for lunch or 7 on the dot for dinner, so get there early. Cool vibe and most of the food is great except the time French Husband had pasta with clams and it was saltier than the Dead Sea. I think the cook had a memory lapse in the kitchen or something. I’ll give them another chance.
Of course one needs to check out the famous Aligre Market on market days (every morning except Monday) on Rue d’Aligre. But to me the best is the adjacent covered market (Marché Beauvau) on Place d’Aligre, which has a great cheesemonger among other treasures. Across on Place d’Aligre there’s also Chez Camille — super cute bar, and Sfuso, an Italian shop that sells wine on a spigot (you can bring your own downed bottles and refill, how ecco-eco), and delish Italian apéro (that’s French for ‘quittin’ time snack but mainly drink AKA Paris Happy Hour) thingies. And the guy is always super nice to my daughter. Gives her free Italian cookies and stuff. Adorable.
Square Trousseau is full of trees and benches and chess tables and even a fancy-ass gazebo, surrounded by pretty buildings. For a classic Frenchie experience, sit on the terrace at the gorgeous Bistro du Square Trousseau and gaze at the Trousseau garden (or that adorable Parisian sitting to your left) while sipping your Aperol Spritz. Also: Emki Pop Caféand Ice Cream where they sell an interactive hot chocolate where you dip a dense Valrhona ice cream ball on a stick into steaming hot milk and stir until it all melts. Mmmmm. Finally, the cute and friendly Lulu & Cie toy shop, for when you need to buy a last-minute treat for the rugrats in your life.
Back to Aligre — end your experience at Calbar cocktail bar on Rue de Charenton. I was surprised at how cool this place actually is even though they have this silly thing where the (cute!) bartenders wear suits … with no pants on. But yes, undershorts. Don’t get that excited now. And the cocktails and music are good. I think. Perhaps I remember the waiters’ attributes the best…either way, you can’t lose there.
Check out more recommendations in this quarter in the category tiles below.