I used to teach English to a French professor who was adamant that the North Marais didn’t exist. Well, I hate to burst your bubble, sir, but it most definitely does – and it’s one of the most exciting spots to eat in Paris. Here are some of my favorite must-sees in this neighborhood.
We can’t talk about food shops in the North Marais without talking about the market that far pre-dates the popularity of this area, the Marché des Enfants Rouges.
The market deserves a post of its own, but suffice it to say, if you’re in the vicinity of the marché, there are tons of fantastic things to eat.
- Poilâne was one of the first great country breads that took Paris by storm. It’s no longer the only one, but it’s still a good standby.
- Cream puff lovers will be right at home at Popelini, one of a series of single-item bakeries that’s been popping up all over the capital. This mini-chain boasts four shops in Paris, each of which peddles perfect little cream puffs, named for the Italian baker who ostensibly invented them for Queen Catherine de Medici.
- Jacques Genin is a specialty chocolatier who possesses perhaps even more talent for caramel than for chocolate.
- Caractère de Cochon doesn’t just boast perhaps my favorite shop name ever (it translates to “pig character,” a term used for someone who is very moody or otherwise obnoxious to be around for great lengths of time), but it’s also one of the best places for lovers of charcuterie. This diminutive shop sells all sorts of specialty hams and dry-cured sausages, and the owner is extremely knowledgeable and passionate – the perfect person to point you in the right direction.
Most of my favorite coffee stops are in this area – including three on the same street.
- Season Take Away – also known as my home away from home. Excellent salads, excellent filter coffee, excellent chocolate cake.
- Lily of the Valley is a tiny little spot that looks a bit like what I imagine Wonderland must look like.
- Fondation is teeeeeeeny but the coffee is off the hook.
- Merci breaks the mold of the teeny-tiny coffee place; it’s actually home to several different spaces including a book-lined café, a cafeteria-esque lunch space, a concept store, and a cinema café, where they regularly screen classic movies while you eat. (AKA, the exact spot 17-year-old me dreamed up, concretized into reality).
- Another itsy-bitsy coffee shop, Boot breaks from the mold a little bit by being located in a converted cobbler’s (thus its name).
- The Beatles-inspired name (and Insta-worthy food) have brought me to Ob-la-Di a few times, but for the moment I have yet to get there when there is an open seat. Soon…
- Spoune (review forthcoming) is a definite fave of mine given its spacious dining room and super-delicious cakes.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Nightlife in this area is right up my alley: mostly food-focused with some great wine and cocktails. For this reason, I’ve combined both categories into one, here.
- The Broken Arm is on the daytime side of things: the restaurant has an adjoining concept store and an ever-changing seasonal menu.
- There are lots of fine places for North African food in Paris, but le Tagine is one of the greats. The pastilla is to die for.
- Le Mary Celeste has long been a favorite of mine (full disclosure: I actually profiled the former chef for my old job). A cocktail bar with a variety of creative small plates, this is a great spot to start a night out. (Don’t miss the famous deviled eggs.)
- The same team is behind Candelaria, one of Paris’ top places for Mexican food. I’ve actually only ever been here once it transforms into a nightclub; it was still fantastic. (The team also runs Korean fried chicken joint Hero.)
- Le Barav’ (review forthcoming) is probably what most visitors to Paris are expecting when looking for a wine bar. It’s a no-nonsense spot boasting great wines, a cave (so you can take bottles home), and a few very basic small plates, including a delicious baked Saint-Marcellin with honey.
- Martin is probably my favorite restaurant in Paris: it’s not too expensive, it’s delicious, and it has small plates. Oh, and the wine menu is punny. A+.
- My sisters took me to Pharmacie for my bachelorette party, and they made the right decision. This restaurant (located, as its name suggests, in a former pharmacy) offers a modern spin on classic bistro cuisine.
- Au Passage is one of the original Paris small plates restaurants, and it’s still one of the best.
- OK, full disclosure, I haven’t been to Lavomatic yet, but it’s a bar in a laundromat, so you know I’m gonna get there soon.
- In a neighborhood where everything that opens seems to be extremely trendy, Pop-In is the perfect divey spot to temper all of that self-aware hipness.