For a slice of Parisian life beyond the Seine, the 10th arrondissement has personality in spades.
Between the October reopeningÂ of the MusĂ©e Picasso (home to the worldâs largest collection of works by the Spanish artist) and the buzzed-about boutiques of the nearby Haut Marais neighborhood, this neck of Parisâs 3rd arrondissement is well and truly on the map. For those looking to step further off the French capitalâs well-beaten tourists tracks, however, just to the north lies the lower 10th arrondissement, where the areas around Porte Saint-Denis and the Canal Saint-Martinâa lovely 19th-century waterway lined with poplars and plane treesâoffer a charming, eclectic authenticity all of their own.
Where to Stay
On the east bank of the Canal Saint-Martin, the dozen eco-chic guest rooms at Le Citizen Hotel (96 Quai de Jemmapes; 33-1/8362-5550; doubles from US$260) feature sustainably harvested wood, fair-trade cotton, and artworks from Creative Growth, a California-based center for disabled artists that operates a showroom nearby. Even more intimate are the holiday rentals on offer from Portuguese transplant Christophe de Oliveira, who, in an 18th-century building on the southwestern edge of the 10th, has recast a series of a workshop spaces as stylish short-stay apartments. Now appointed with wooden paneling and designer chairs, the Laundry Loft, Boulangerie House, Atelier 34, and a cozy courtyard house called La Maisonnette are both affordable and adorable (34 rue de lâĂchiquier; Boulangerie Room; 33-6/2478-5874; doubles from US$135).
Where to Eat
Running north from the triumphal arch of Porte Saint-Denis, the bustling rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis is a virtual United Nations of culinary offerings, with an African spice emporium, a fruit-filled Punjabi grocery, and a Syrian coffee shop clustered close to the 17th-century archway. Here youâll also find Urfa DĂŒrĂŒm (No. 56; no telephone), a hole-in-the-wall Kurdish sandwich shop where the dĂŒrĂŒmâflatbread wraps filled with spiced meatsâare divine. Farther up at the black-awninged corner bistro Le NapolĂ©on (No. 73; 33-1/4770-2136), nightly specials like pot-au-feu and roasted chicken in thyme juice get scribbled on a chalkboard outside, while aperitifs are sipped at the popular bar.
A few blocks west, Vivant Table and adjacent wine barâcum-bistro Vivant Cave (43 rue des Petites Ăcuries; 33-1/4246-4355) draw a steady stream of regulars for their farm-to-table meals and sommelier David Benichouâs selection of natural and biodynamic wines. Meanwhile, Parisians from every quartier flock to neighborhood boulangerie Du Pain et des IdĂ©es (34 rue Yves Toudic; 33-1/4240-4452) for master baker Christophe Vasseurâs pistachio-chocolate âescargotâ pastries, rustic baguettes, and nutty pain des amis (âfriendship breadâ). Back east in the Canal Saint-Martin area, Korean takeout joint Jules et Shim (22 rue des Vinaigriers; 33-1/5820-1791) may play on the name of the 1962 Truffaut film Jules et Jim, but its bibimbap (available in beef, shrimp, spiced pork, and vegetarian versions) is seriously good.
Where to Shop
A short stroll from Jules et Shim lies one of Europeâs best selections of fashion, design, and art books: Artazart (83 Quai de Valmy; 33-1/4040-2400), whose fire-engine-red storefront is hard to miss. Also near at hand is Medecine Douce (10 rue de Marseille; 33-1/4803-5728), the minimalist showroom for designer Marie Montaudâs nature-inspired gold jewelry. And just a few doors down at concept store Centre Commercial (2 rue de Marseille; 33-1/4202-2608), exposed concrete walls provide a backdrop for Repetto ballet flats, Veja leather trainers, and looks by rising French designers such as Christine Phung and Valentine Gauthier.
An easy walk south from the 10th arrondissement, the MusĂ©e Picasso Paris first opened in 1985 inside the former HĂŽtel SalĂ©, a 17th-century baroque mansion. The museumâs closure in 2009 for a two-year renovation has stretched to five, but when it reopens late October following an estimated US$70 million makeover, its collection of more than 5,000 works by Picasso will be one of the hottest cultural tickets in town.
Â This article originally appeared in theÂ October/NovemberÂ print issue of DestinAsian magazine (âTenth’s Placeâ)