Aligre

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 Café and 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.

Oth­er must-see near­by streets are Rue de Prague and Rue Emilio Castélar, where you’ll find a pret­ty ice cream par­lor (La Trop­i­cale Glac­i­er), a wine shop (Les Caves de Prague), a good-deal thai restau­rant (La Can­tine du Siam). and even a spe­cial­ty kite shop (La Mai­son du Cerf Volant — wel­come to Paris: we have all kinds of crazy spe­cial­ty shops, though not nec­es­sar­i­ly in this ‘hood — arti­san puz­zle mak­ers, sev­er­al sto­ries’ worth of taxi­dermy, an entire lit­tle pas­sage­way of rare stamp deal­ers, Legion of Hon­or medals…)

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.

Coffee shops

Amendūla Café

Restos

Bars

Bakeries

Marché Beau­vau (aka Marché d’Ali­gre) (indoor and outdoor)

25–11 Rue d’Ali­gre
Open: Tue to Fri — 7:30a to 1:30p; Sat to Sun — 7:30a to 2:30p