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The 11th arrondissement of Paris is lively with a very local and authentic feel. Perhaps it is due to its working-class roots and its revolutionary past. It was, after all, the scene of the Paris uprising of 1832 immortalized in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.
Standing at Place de la Bastille under the July Column topped with its gilded angel representing liberty (a big theme in France) you just know you’re immersed in history. French were once guillotined here, and the historic Bastille fortress was stormed.
The 11th meets two other Paris arrondissements at Place de la Republique where the imposing and magnificent statue of Marianne, the national symbol of France, stands. If you are curious about the French’s penchant for demonstrations, you can be sure to find one happening here.
Get ready for a fun time in the 11th arrondissement of Paris! A hip quartier of Paris, the 11th arrondissement is known for its restaurants and boutiques. Shop like a local when you venture out in the 11th arrondissement!
The 11th arrondissement, not known for its major monuments, is full of artisanal shops, brocante (flea markets), small businesses, and art galleries. It’s a great place for bargain hunters, vintage shoppers and foodies.
I lived for almost four months in the 11th arrondissement and the minute I see the Bastille’s July Column soaring skyward or start to stroll up rue de la Roquette, it feels like home.
Here are 13 best things to do in the 11th arrondissement of Paris.
1. Stand In Historic Place de La Bastille
You can’t miss the soaring green-bronze Colonne de Juillet at Place de la Bastille at the intersection of the 4e, 11e, and 12e arrondissements. At Place de la Bastille once stood a 14th-century fortress built to protect the city gates. The fortress became a prison which was stormed on the 14 of July 1789 starting the French Revolution. Stop for a minute at the Place de la Bastille and ponder the importance of this historic location.
The Colonne de Juillet, rising 52 metres high, is topped by a golden, winged Liberty. It was inaugurated in 1840 to commemorate the losses during three days of fighting (another revolution) on the 27, 28, and 29th of July in 1830.
Today, you might find some skateboarders or a street band playing in the Place de la Bastille and you will most certainly notice the volume of traffic circling around it.
The modern building, shown in the photo, is the Opéra Bastille (technically in the 12th arrondissement) which was inaugurated 200 years after the storming of the Bastille on 13 July 1989.
2. Take A Stroll Through Cour Damoye In The 11th Arrondissement
There are plenty of tiny, surprising, and slightly hidden streets in Paris. Here in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, Cour Damoye is a quiet cobbled lane lined with ateliers. You’ll feel like you have stumbled across hidden Paris as you wander down Cour Damoye. It’s the perfect place for a photoshoot!
3. Eat A Galette Or Sit At The Oyster Bar At Marché Bastille
Marché Bastille, the Bastille Market, on Blvd. Richard Lenoir is hopping with locals on Thursdays from 7-2:30 and Sundays from 7 – 3 pm. With the Bastille’s Colonne de Juillet in the background, wander through one of Paris’s biggest markets. If you love buying clothing at French markets or gathering ingredients to cook up a true French feast, you will find just what you need here.
Be sure to find the galette stand (you’ll see the lineup) where authentic Breton galettes are cooked before your eyes. I love the traditional galette with egg, cheese, and ham. Pair it will a glass of brut cider (dry cider). Still got room? Try the Kouign amann. Here you are standing in the 11th arrondissement of Paris but, close your eyes for a second, and be immediately transported to Brittany!
Find the poissonnerie where a few high tables and stools are set out and Parisians are diving straight into platters of oysters on a Sunday morning. Slurping and laughing. A great way to start a Sunday. Not sure how to eat oysters like the French? Here is how to attack a platter of oysters!
4. The 11th Arrondissement: Shop on Rue de la Roquette
The first time I wandered up rue de la Roquette, I wasn’t sure what to make of it! I’ll tell you this. It is one lively street, maybe except first thing in the morning where you are sure to run into people who are just finishing the previous evening’s soirée!
Rue de la Roquette is lined with cafés, bars, boutiques, a high school, and the Théâtre de la Bastille. It is a bumping street. Sit on the terasse of Café des Anges and watch real Paris in action.
I lived on rue de la Roquette for a few weeks and Café des Anges was my go-to for a morning coffee and croissant and also for dejeuner (lunch) which was delicious and reasonable. I sat and wrote a while and came to recognize the morning regulars that came by for a quick café.
Be sure to stop by some of the clothing shops on rue de la Roquette. Some of my favourites are:
5. Savour Bean-To-Bar Chocolate At Alain Ducasse
If you are looking for artisanal chocolate, look no further than the workshop and boutique of Alain Ducasse at 40 rue de la Roquette in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. This is true bean-to-bar chocolate made right in Paris. The burlap sacks of cacao beans sourced from around the world are used to create divine results. Stop by the chocolate boutique, and peruse the selection of bars made from beans from Peru, or Ecuador. There are certain chocolates made for specific celebrations and seasons. I’m buying the whiskey chocolates as a gift next Christmas!
And to top it all off, Alain Ducasse also has an ice cream bar (La Glace) with its storefront right on rue de la Roquette beside the Chocolate boutique. Can life in the 11th arrondissement of Paris be any tastier?!
6. Be Immersed In Art At Atelier des Lumières
The first time I went to Atelier des Lumières in Paris, it literally blew my mind. Here I was immersed in Gustav Klimt’s paintings which soared sky high while a Viennese waltz played. That was in 2018 and I have not missed an exhibition since. Stroll on over to rue Saint Maur in the 11th arrondissement of Paris and see what surprise is in store for you.
Currently, in March 2022 Cezanne and Kandinsky are the superstars! Get your tickets here.
7. The 11th Arrondissement: Try A Flight Of Beer At BapBap
At 79 rue Saint Maur, you’ll find the Parisian microbrewery BAPBAP. Stop by one evening for a flight of beer – a selection of four of BAPBAP’s artisanal beers for tasting.
When I purchased some BAPBAP beer as a Christmas gift, the young man in front of me turned and said, “It’s a true Parisian gift.”
BAPBAP does stand for Bière Artisinale Paris and I remember reading somewhere, that the second BAP stands for Bois à Paris. Thus, brewed in Paris, drunk in Paris!
It is possible to go on a tour of their microbrewery. Check it out here.
When I had lunch at Ferrandi, the prestigious cooking school in Paris, the entire menu was paired with a selection of beer from BAPBAP.
8. Fill Up On Raclette At Chalet Savoyard
You know the minute a cold fall or winter wind blows into Paris, ALL Parisians start talking about the alpine specialities raclette, fondue, and tartiflette (melted Reblochon cheese and bacon served with potatoes). It’s quite charming. These hearty, heart-warming meals can take the chill out of any wind and warm you right down to your toes.
There are quite a few classic restaurants in Paris to enjoy the “best” raclette around. One of them is Le Chalet Savoyard at 50 rue de Charonne in the 11th arrondissement. Raclette is a dish that hails from Switzerland and the Savoyard region of France. The block of cheese is heated and melted and then scraped onto boiled potatoes, pickles, pickled onions, and charcuterie.
You know from my French cheese articles and where to find the best fromageries in Paris that I LOVE blue cheese. I shared a blue cheese raclette with a friend. We were in heaven! Such pleasure on a chilly winter night.
9. The 11th Arrondissement: Find The Best Gluten-Free Bakery
I kept coming to Paris searching for gluten-free delights that would, first of all, satisfy my sweet tooth. When I found Chambelland in the 11th arrondissement, I was thrilled. The lemon tarts, cookies and brownies are to die for. You would never know they are GF. And, their gluten-free focaccia bread is a winner too.
Chambelland has expanded their shop and now there is plenty of space to have lunch, write a little, and savour a lemon tart and a cup of coffee. It’s a real find for those that are gluten-free and also not gluten-free!
10. Check Out The Soaring Spires of Saint-Ambroise
The spires soar upwards for 68 metres making Saint-Ambroise, on Blvd Voltaire, unmissable. Built between 1863 and 1869, on the site of a convent Saint Ambroise is dedicated to Saint Ambroise and Saint Augustine. Sit in the little garden in front of the church, and wander into the church taking note of the stained glass windows. It’s a quiet oasis and a perfect place to stop for a few minutes.
11. Swoon At Cyril Lignac’s Gourmet Corner
It was during the first confinement of 2020 that I heard of Cyril Lignac. He is the darling chef of the French and was holding extremely popular virtual cooking classes. I love following his gastronomic adventures on Instagram. Eventually, I started tasting all Cyril Lignac had to offer!
But then I discovered his corner in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. Three places to savour Cyril Lignac’s creations in one go! La Pâtisserie Cyril Lignac, which always has a lineup, the Chocolaterie, the perfect place for an afternoon café, and Le Chardenoux. Le Chardenoux, set in a bistro from 1908, is still one of the most memorable meals I have had in Paris. Don’t miss the stunning interior and antique marble bar.
Make sure to head over to the 11th arrondissement and find:
12. Boutique Shop On Rue de la Folie-Méricourt
Take your time in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. It’s not a quick “check-it off the bucket list” part of Paris. I found living in the 11e that I discovered new streets and different boutiques each time I set out exploring.
One street I keep returning to is rue de la Folie-Méricourt. I love the handmade wooden puzzles by Puzzles Michèle Wilson, the charming bookshop Librairie La Téte Ailleurs, having brunch at Café Méricourt (beware of long lines!) and stopping by for a cocktail at the Dirty Lemon (I’m due for a return visit here!).
On a recent stroll, I was admiring some new street art when a man stepped out of his shop and said, “The artist who created this is standing across the street in the blue shirt.” I wandered over and told the artist how much I loved his installation about nature and poetry. We had a very short chat. It was still early in the morning by Paris standards. These kinds of Paris exchanges make my day.
13. Stroll Passage Lhomme and Rue de Charonne
Passage Lhomme, entered from #26 rue de Charonne, is worth the side-trip! Stroll through the Passage Lhomme, in the 11e, lined with greenery and the facades of ancient ateliers. It’s like popping into a time gone by.
Rue de Charonne is another street not to be missed in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. It’s a street where Parisians shop in boutiques such as Héroïnes, Cotélac, and Sessùn. Stop by the little shop filled with antique glass where you’ll be sure to find a treasure and also the bookshop dedicated to Bande Déssiné (comic books and graphic novels). Stroll and enjoy.
Note: Many boutiques in Paris do not open until 11 am on weekdays. If you are headed to a specific store, verify opening hours.
These 13 things to do in the 11th arrondissement of Paris barely scrape the surface of this authentic area. Go with your curious spirit and have fun making your own discoveries.
Until next time,
More Paris Info…
After exploring the 11th arrondissement, you might want to add these areas of Paris to your list of places to visit!
Get mixed up with the arrondissements of Paris? This guide to the Paris arrondissements will help you plan your best visit to the City of Light!
This post on Montmartre leads you to the most popular sites as well as some lesser-known places in Montmartre.
Another of Paris’s most-loved areas is Saint-Germain des Prés. Here are my best tips on things to do in Saint-Germain des Prés.
Le Marais is one of the best areas of Paris to flâner. Here are 23 tops things to do in le Marais.
La Butte aux Cailles, tucked away in the 13th arrondissement, is another place in Paris that has retained its village-like charm. My article on La Butte aux Cailles will lead you to discover some of the area and its visually enticing street art.
Canal Saint-Martin is another place full of small restaurants, boutiques and plenty of character. Stroll the bridges of the canal under the chestnut trees and feel like a true Parisian. All the details on this “bobo” district are in this article on Canal Saint-Martin.
Here are all the things to do on Ile Saint-Louis, one of the oldest villages in Paris.
And don’t forget that the 7th arrondissement has lots to see and do once you have seen the Eiffel Tower.
Other Paris and France Travel Tips:
Travelling to Paris alone? This article on navigating Paris alone is full of tips and tricks for the solo traveller.
This page has all my articles on Paris that will help you plan out your trip, including day trips from Paris. I hope you subscribed to my newsletter to get my free download – An Amazing 2-day Itinerary in Paris.
If you are going further afield in France, make sure to check out my page on France.