If you’re looking for an exciting, under-the-radar Parisian adventure, you won’t find it in the mainstream heart of the ninth arrondissement. What you will find instead are packed (though admittedly impressively decorated with rooftop view of Paris) department stores like Galeries Lafayette or Printemps, the famous Opéra Garnier national ballet theater and a few museums. You’ll be able to tick off these must-see spots, but, fair warning, you’ll be doing so amongst an ocean of tourists. For a taste of how a true Parisian might spend their time around the ninth, head up towards SoPi — South Pigalle.
Opéra Garnier / Grands Boulevards
Somebody told all the tourists to go here for nightlife. We’re not sure who it was, but it certainly wasn’t us. The effect is as expected—bars catering to tourists. If you flew all the way to Paris to visit a wax museum or a Hard Rock Café, that’s on you. Don’t blame us for wasting your time staring at wax figures of Mbappé and Johnny Halliday. This complex neighborhood straddles the second and the ninth districts, which keeps it humming and thrumming day and night, and packed with Paris’ biggest collection of basic, highly avoidable, mainstream pubs, and ‘just-keep-walking’ restaurants (the clubs and theatres are cool though, so don’t lump them in with the boring chain pubs that line the traffic-choked ‘boulevard’—depending on who is spinning, the Rex Club can be LIT…). With the good, the bad, and the ugly all smashed together, the Grands Boulevards quarter is anything but subtle.
Instead of getting engulfed in this mainstream mayhem, keep it real by wandering around the covered passages, where the best restaurants in the neighborhood can be found (Victoria Station, Racines…). Fauxhemians prefer the Marais, but, if you happen to be here and are a discerning person (ahem, you are reading PARIS » DEFINED, so…), you’ll want to drill down a little deeper on smaller side streets and spend time among locals by sipping on a straw of our loving curation below.