13th Arrondissement

Sprinkled around Paris’ central neighborhoods are a number of so-called “Chinese restaurants”, but it’s always a risky proposition because many are, let’s face it, bland and congealed. Instead, head down to this outlying southern neighborhood to find Paris’ biggest Chinese diaspora. But don’t expect a Beijing look alike movie set. The vibe is more modern  – skyscrapers and solitary alleys (we warned you). Still, you’ll be rewarded with authentic Chinese grocery stores and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. If visiting a Chinatown is not your thing, head to la Butte-aux-Cailles, which is basically the Paris equivalent of the Shire in Lord of the Rings: It’s charming as hell; perched on a tiny hill, no bigger than five short interlaced cobbled streets, and replete with cafés, bookshops and bars. One exception – everyone speaks French instead of Frodo.

Berges de Seine

You want to stroll down the Seine, you need to stroll down the Seine—Parisians love it and when the weath­er is coop­er­at­ing, are there all of the time—a result of the unique devel­op­ment of the Berges de Seine over the last few years. It went from mul­ti-lane high­way to frol­ic zone for pedes­tri­ans, cyclists, and alco­hol appre­ci­a­tion meet­ings alike. Read in-depth to decode it accord­ing to your tastes and plans for the day as the vibe varies quite a bit from cheap, youth­ful, and bois­ter­ous East to still-love­ly but touristy, 15€-for-a-mediocre-cocktail, West side (If you can see the Eif­fel Tower…).



We know you’re com­ing to Paris to expe­ri­ence the mag­i­cal City of Light and live out the quaint French fan­ta­sy brain­washed into you by movies like Amélie (spoil­er alert: it’s all a lie). So if you want a break from the illu­sion, head towards Chi­na­town, con­sid­ered to be the largest Chi­na­town in Europe (ha! In your face, Lon­don). It’s a bit grungy (in the best way pos­si­ble), a lit­tle bit chaot­ic, and most of all—perfect. The area is ugly AF, but that’s because the high-rise build­ings were the cheap­est thing refugees from Cam­bo­dia, Viet­nam, and Laos could afford. Don’t let this deter you because it’s the best place to sati­ate that phở itch. Or bub­ble tea itch. Or K‑pop itch. Basi­cal­ly, whichev­er itch you have that needs to be scratched.

Butte aux Cailles / Place d’Italie 

If you’ve decid­ed to ven­ture out to this side of town, you’ll be well-reward­ed with the Buttes-aux-Cailles, as it’s a charm­ing area that cap­tures the heart of young fam­i­lies as well as trendy and fes­tive Parisians (if they both­er to schlep all the way here, that is). It’s one of the few places left in Paris with a vil­lage feel—like Mont­martre, but less crowd­ed and much, much, MUCH less hilly (your thighs will thank you). Wan­der through paved alleys and find adorable hous­es that will give even the most secure of you penis-envy. But the real pièce de résis­tance of the Buttes-Aux-Cailles is the jaw-drop­ping street art, includ­ing sten­cils from the late Mis­sTic. Qui­et dur­ing the day but pos­i­tive­ly buzzing in the evening, it’s an alter­na­tive area only the locals know, and com­ing here will give you Paris insid­er-knowl­edge cred you can boast about. The area around Place d’Italie itself isn’t worth rav­ing about, but it’s a handy gate­way to the oth­er areas in the 13th.

Austerlitz / Bibliothèque François Mitterand

Com­ing down to this area will not give you those “wow, this is Paris!” vibes. But that doesn’t mean you should dis­re­gard the area com­plete­ly because it still is a part of Paris — albeit a more…sterile ver­sion (pic­ture mod­ern­ized build­ings with the cur­rent trend of high ceil­ings and large vit­rines). If you’re a bib­lio­phile, head towards Bib­lio­thèque François Mit­terand* and you’ll be regaled with French lit­er­ary col­lec­tions, comics, man­u­scripts, expo­si­tions, and more. And bonus, if you try real­ly hard and use your imag­i­na­tion, you’ll see how the four build­ings look like open books fac­ing each oth­er. By all means, explore this area because you’ll find a Wiz­ard-of-Oz-look­ing build­ing (all green and made of glass) hous­ing the City of Fash­ion and Design, and when you’re done, it’s easy to hop over to Gare d’Austerlitz where you’ll be able to tra­verse to more excit­ing areas.

*We’re in no way a qual­i­fied French teacher, but here’s a quirky les­son and use­less info to show­er your friends with (despite their protests): a library and a librairie are not the same thing, they’re faux amis or fake friends. A librairie here is a bookstore.