For those who have been to Paris and feel like they’ve seen it all, head to the city’s 20th arrondissement for a change of pace. While not necessarily an “it” place to go, it’s just this lack of luster that makes it appeal to locals as a place to live and hang out.
The one big attraction in the neighborhood is the Père Lachaise cemetery. It’s famous, it’s beautiful, and it’s worth a trek to visit the resting places of Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde, among others. You’ll see plenty of tourists around, but they don’t stick around for much else in the neighborhood. Plus, Parisians habitually stroll around the tombs as well, and many will come and tend the graves of loved ones, often laying flowers.
Or if you’re feeling a little nostalgic for the music of one of the cemetery’s most famous guests, consider taking a tour of Edith Piaf’s house. Call ahead for a guided visit of the Little Sparrow’s home in the heart of the 20th.
While there are plenty of places to eat in the 20th, the cuisine of the ethnically diverse Belleville neighborhood is the best place to go. Parisians pack the little Vietnamese and other Asian restaurants that serve up quick and easy fare and cheap prices. (See our favorites in our guide to cheap eats in Belleville.)
For those looking for something a bit more traditionally or at least un-Asian, head to the Mama Shelter for some jazzed up French cuisine or a fantastic pizza. No matter which you choose, your wallet won’t hate you at the end.
Check in at the Bellevilloise, the hipster hangout that serves as a great bar, concert hall, and event venue. Look for vintage flea markets or funk concerts on their schedule of events. Or just head there for late night drinks to rub elbows with Converse-clad young Parisians. (19-21 rue Boyer)
Wander down rue Dénoyez, the graffiti-covered street that also houses many of Belleville’s artists’ studios. Don’t hesitate to knock and enter one of the studios to see what the local painters and sculptors are up to these days. You might even be able to buy a piece of art. Look for the Portes Ouvertes, or open doors, in May when all of the artists in the neighborhood invite you in for a peak.
Spend the afternoon or evening at Aux Folies, the 20th’s other famed hipster hangout, on rue de Belleville. Tables fill the street and alleyway as locals knock back inexpensive wine and beer late into the evening. (8 rue de Belleville)
There aren’t many hotels in the 20th worth suggesting, but these two have our stamp of approval for price and quality.
Mama Shelter is a trendy design hotel that won’t break the bank, even if your room may feel chic. The restaurant downstairs is a happening place for brunch on Sunday.
Hotel les Chasonniers is a funky old-world hotel that is charming and comfortable. It’s just down the street from the cemetery.