Paris hotspots: 9th arrondissement and rue Montmartre
Mark Tungate, WGSN
Sick of Saint Germain? Bored of Bastille? Over Avenue Montaigne? It might be time to explore a different side of Paris.
The 9th may not have arrived, but it's certainly on its way. New restaurants and bars seem to spring up every week. French stars like Frédéric Diefenthal (you may remember him from Luc Besson's film Taxi) and Anna Mouglalis (the current face of Chanel) are inhabitants, not to mention English expats like former Pulp front-man Jarvis Cocker and even – ahem – your faithful correspondent.
When Madonna played Paris recently, she dined at local restaurant Le Petrelle, in the street of the same name. In short, it looks as though the city's party people are migrating from Bastille and the 8th arrondissement to the 9th and its close neighbour rue Montmartre.
To help you get there before the crowds, here's a quick run-down of our favourite haunts, including vintage shops, galleries, design collectives and hot people-watching spots.
Rue des Martyrs is a bustling street that climbs gently toward Montmartre from the Classical Greek-style church of Notre Dame de Lorette (and the metro station of the same name). Keep your eyes peeled and you'll catch a glimpse of Sacre Coeur between the distant buildings. On your way you'll pass popular local eateries like Fuxia (Italian fusion) and the famous Rose Bakery, a boulangerie and restaurant that gets packed out for weekend brunches. You'll also find fishmongers, epiceries, second-hand booksellers, antique shops and, curiously, a great number of opticians.
Nearby, on rue de Navarin (childhood home of the French film-maker François Truffaut) you'll find the recently-opened Hotel Amour, an achingly hip establishment with a cosy dining room whose terrace gets packed in fine weather.
Also off rue des Martyrs, in rue Condorcet, you'll want to pay a visit to vintage clothing boutique WochDom, which has outlets on both sides of the street. Further down, another vintage store called Chezel has stunning 70s dresses, as well as leather blousons and velvet jackets for guys.
Running parallel is rue de la Tour d'Auvergne, home to a cheeky little bar called Le César. This bizarre French-Scandinavian establishment features a mural of half-naked blondes cavorting in a sauna: no bad thing until you try to concentrate on your loved one's day at work.
A few doors down, at number 16, is a gallery called NoGoodWindow. This was set up a couple of years ago by NoGoodIndustry, a collective of designers, artists, photographers and media types headquartered next door. They've recently created a limited edition series of fashion accessories for department store Printemps.
Finally, as you emerge into rue du Rochechouart and hang a right, check out the nearby antique furniture store Rouge. The founders make regular forays to the flea markets on the outskirts of Paris and return with treasures that they then restore – so you don't have to.
Whether you stroll to the border of the 9th arrondissement or emerge from the metro at Grands Boulevards, you can't miss the Le Brébant. This restored café, with its sumptuously long distressed zinc bar and enormous terrace, attracts a lively following for its daily Happy Hour (7-9pm), upbeat music and prime people-watching location.
Use this as a kicking off point for exploring rue Montmartre, which begins just across the road. (By the way, we should mention at this point that rue Montmartre is not actually in Montmartre, which occasionally causes a bit of confusion.)
One of the first bars into the neighbourhood – and still one of the busiest – is Somo, whose British management draws a crowd of laid-back expats and their French companions.
There are numerous other bars to visit on this alcohol-fuelled street, one of the most recent being the tiny but kitsch Lucky Duke, with its abundance of foliage and jazzy soundtrack. A short walk away, the cosy La Bocca restaurant must be one of the most romantic Italian joints outside Rome, with its old-time bistro décor providing an oddly Parisian touch.
But the main reason the nightlife fauna have become attracted to rue Montmartre is a club called Le Triptyque, which established itself a couple of years ago and is still one of the most eclectic venues in town. Hip hop, rock, electro, Eighties Japanese pop and live bands can be found on any given evening. Friday and Saturday are generally best for dancing, but it may be good idea to check the website in advance (www.letriptyque.com).
But what do you in this area during the day? Look no further: just opposite Grands Boulevards metro, wedged between the Café Zephyr and a nasty waxworks museum, is the entrance to a charming 19th century covered mall that will take you all the way back to the 9th arrondissement. (In fact there are two malls to explore, but Passage Jouffroy leads naturally into Passage Verdeau.)
On the way, you'll pass art galleries, antiquarian bookstores and the yummy Valentin salon de thé, where you can fuel up on the kind of calorific patisseries that brings dessert fans back to Paris again and again. And if you feel like picking up a souvenir, don't forget to browse the vintage French movie posters at Librarie Cinédoc.