Canal Saint Martin Paris Credit Xuan Nguyen

A perfect evening in the 10th – Paris’s new Marais 

For most gay guys, a visit to Paris means a visit to the Marais. But the neighbourhood has been in a state of constant change over the past several years and, as each year passes, the gay identity that came to define Paris’s historic Jewish quarter has eroded. A Gallic mirror of what happened in the West Village, shops, galleries, and restaurants that were founded by the waves of gays and lesbians that settled in the area in the 70s have been pushed out by global luxury brands and restaurants catering to the people that frequent them. More and more, they are relocating from places like Rue Vielle du Temple and Rue des Archives to an attractive triangle in the 10th arrondissement, squeezed between the Place de la Republique and the Canal Saint-Martin. In an evening hour, before most of the local shops close at 7:30, you can cover enough ground to visit some of Paris’s top independent designers, concept shops, cafes, and bakeries, all in time to shuffle down the block for great food and iconic bars. You may never want to leave.

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Art you can wear, and art you can’t

Leaving behind the evening hubbub of Republique, amble over to Thx God I’m a VIP, one of Paris’s most unique men’s clothing stores. Stuffed with second-hand designer apparel, organised helpfully into colours, you can pick up vintage Vivienne Westwood sweaters, Dries Van Noten jackets, Lanvin trousers, and 70s Burberry jackets that can be impossible to find anywhere else.

Continuing up Rue de Lancry towards the canal, take your pick of one of the many local galleries to orient your route. Miranda specialises in photography and books on rue du Château d’Eau, while the Espace Beaurepaire has more sporadic exhibitions of up-and-coming sculpture, mosaics, and paintings. Les Douches, an architecturally-appealing space tucked away on a lovely block of Rue Legouvé, also specialises in photography.

Of course, there’s little reason to come to Paris (or the 10th) without doing more shopping, and the neighbourhood conveniently offers a concentrated flavour of some of the city’s coolest designers and quirkiest shops in a compact group of streets next to the canal.

Ellen Carey at Galerie Miranda Paris

Ellen Carey (left) at Galerie Miranda

Rue des Vinagriers 

Rue des Vinagriers is one of these dreamy streets, with street art, original retail, and excellent places to stop for refreshments. If you choose one street, this one has it all.

Start halfway down the block at Residence Kann (which closes earliest), a great place for a pick-me-up ahead of a walk through the district. The coffee shop, a creation of a design studio of the same name, features Scandinavian furniture, excellent coffee, nice baristas, and a mixed clientele of neighbourhood and visiting supermodels.

At one end of this magical block Liberté, whose pastries and bread may not be the best choice before you go on a stroll for new clothes in the neighbourhood. One peek in the enormous glass façade, showing off the kitchen and the display case alike, will prove too much to resist.

Across the street is Drapeau Noir, with a collection of well-fitting men’s basics that could be a cornerstone of any Parisian wardrobe. Maybe you should come here before having that tarte across the street…

Drapeau Noir Paris

Drapeau Noir

Drapeau Noir Paris

Drapeau Noir

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Don’t miss some of the area’s most extensive street art along the walls and façades of the local buildings

Walking back towards the canal, it’s hard to miss the beautiful chaos of Philippe le Libraire, an essential stop for those interested in illustrated books, graphic novels, and comics. Even if you’re not into these types of books, Philippe’s bookshop sells the cutest tote bag in town.

Turning the corner, don’t miss some of the area’s most extensive street art along the walls and façades of the local buildings.

If clothes aren’t on your mind as you walk down the canal, stop into RetroFutur, a showcase of the latest in speaker and audio design and technology. You’ll see brands that you know but likely come across many that you don’t, along with special models and designs that are hard to find elsewhere.

Doubling back on the canal, now buzzing with evening activity, make a left at popular café Chez Prune towards Rue Beaurepaire for some to visit shops that you may know (like Agnes b. and Hircus) and some that you don’t. One emerging designer to visit is Atelier Beaurepaire, which combines traditional African wax fabrics (common in Senegal) with modern apparel and design.

If clothes are still on your list, some of the most popular Marais brands have decamped to the adjacent street Rue de Marseille, where you can browse a range of designers at Centre Commercial or mainstays like Homecore and Balibaris. Don’t miss OLOW, which collaborates with local designers to create jaunty and unique (and very French) t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Steak

Photo: Krystel Encinares

Eating and drinking

The area is packed with great places to eat by yourself or with friends (or even with your coworkers if they can handle leaving the hotel).

For a splurge (or an expense account) with friends, Les Enfants Perdus, facing the charming Jardin Villemin, is a sophisticated, attractive place for French cuisine and a taste of the neighbourhood’s well-to-do dining scene. Similarly, Le Verre Volé is an approachable French bistro on the corner of Rue de Lancry, with a lively atmosphere and cosy tables, and wine and food that will almost make you feel Parisian.

One joy of the 10th is that there is a myriad of spots that are great for solo dining, covering a range of tastes and atmospheres. If healthy is on your list, try tiny Sol Semilla, one of the area’s top addresses for vegetarian food. It’s a homey, busy, and casual place to have a healthy dinner, so put it on your list for later.

Rue de Lancry is where many other neighbourhood diners congregate. Charming Sur Mer has a nice bar for oysters and local seafood, while cosy and quick Bopome specialises in Taiwanese egg crepes. Across the street, lively Shouk is a buzzy Mediterranean / Israeli place (maybe a bit more style than substance), while next-door SAaM has Asian fusion. All are great bets for solo diners.

Les Douches La Galerie Paris

Les Douches la Galerie

Ending the evening in style

If you still have the spirit for one last drink (or several last drinks), Le Carrillon is the perfect place to end the evening enchanted with Paris, and the 10th arrondissement. One of the cafes that were hit by Paris’s awful November 2015 terrorist attacks, Le Carrillon is the spirit of a neighbourhood and a city whose way of life embodies resilience. Sitting on the terrace, and watching the hopelessly hip local happenings, or sitting at the bar listening to the jazz bands that frequent the bar, there are fewer places in Paris that will make you feel closer to place (and further from work) than Le Carrillon.

Indeed, the 10th, convenient to the whole of Paris because of its location close to Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, and Republique, will make you feel very far from business and is a perfect spot for an evening (or week of evenings) out of the office.

Drapeau Noir Paris

Drapeau Noir

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