• Katie

The Gambetta Guide

A guide to one of Paris' best kept secrets: the 20th arrondissement.


I've been obsessed with the 20th arrondissement for years. There's a reason Parisians love it: without any major tourist attractions (except for the Père Lachaise Cemetery, which straddles the 20th and the 19th), it's one of the few neighborhoods left where you hear more French than English. It has a decidedly local feel that I am head over heels in love with, and I almost always stay there when I'm booking a trip.


If you, like me love to hang out where the locals do and discover a side of Paris you may never have experienced before, read below for my favorite boutiques, restaurants, attractions, and more.


EAT


FRANCOIS PRIET, FROMAGER (Fromagerie)


It's easy to find good cheese in Paris, but really great cheese? Phenomenal cheese? That's sometimes a bit trickier. François works directly with local and organic producers, and his seasonal selection of cheeses has never disappointed me. No matter what you're in the mood for, you're sure to walk out with something incredible. And if you're lost for ideas, just ask the fromager and they'll be sure to assist you with a smile.


LA FLUTE GANA (Boulangerie)


I am consistently surprised that this boulangerie hasn't yet won the "Best Parisian Baguette of the Year Award" (yes, that's a thing!). Truly phenomenal baguettes, pastries, sandwiches, and quiches. As you can tell, I get food here a lot, and I've never been disappointed. My favorite baguette? The baguette aux graines. So damn good.


TRAPANI BOTTEGA (Traiteur Italien - Italian Deli)


When I'm in Paris for an extended period of time, for work, or traveling alone, I'm never in the mood to eat out for every meal. And neither is my wallet! When I'm not living off bread, cheese, and fresh fruit, I'll pick up some pasta salad or ready-to-eat ravioli from this little shop. It smells like fresh basil and mozzarella and is beautifully authentic - the two employees I always see there speak French with a lilting Italian accent.


LAO SIAM


This cozy Laotian & Thai restaurant has a wide selection of soups, salads, appetizers, entrées, and desserts. You can't go wrong with Pad Thai, but my favorite was the kheng daeng, which is a red curry full of coconut milk and seafood flavors.


AUX OURS


If you're looking for a place that's truly local, look no further than Aux Ours. It's always packed and for good reason - their beer, wine, and cocktail list is extensive and has something for everyone. Plus, they make great cheese & charcuterie boards for sharing, have a solid burger on the menu, and even have a raw bar. Like I said, something for everyone!


AUX PETITS OIGNONS


Just a round the corner from Dancing Goat, this classic French bistro has some great French staples, like the magret de canard and steak frites. It's a neighborhood watering hole where the food is always solid and the ambiance is perfect on warm spring and summer nights.


FLOREAL BELLEVILLE


If Williamsburg, Brooklyn turned into a chic Parisian café and restaurant, it would be Floréal. The distinctly trendy, local vibe to this place makes it feel like a slice of home. There are flowers and plants everywhere and on certain weekends they even have art exhibitions and community yoga classes (I repeat: hello, French Brooklyn). The wine list is small but impeccable, with organic cru Beaujolais, biodynamic Vinho Verde, and a selection of off-the-beaten-track rosés. The food is light, bright, and all shareable plates, with several vegan and vegetarian options. If you're staying in the 19th or 20th as I like to do, this is one restaurant that is definitely worth stopping by.


DRINK


THE DANCING GOAT


As incredible as my last Airbnb was, it had one major flaw: there was no coffee machine. Not a French press or an espresso maker in sight! In addition to being a wine nerd, I need caffeine in my veins to survive. You can't go wrong with the exquisite Dancing Goat Paris, which is in the heart of the 20th and probably the chicest coffee place I've ever seen. They have a dizzying array of coffee styles, including - café filtre, otherwise known as drip or "American" coffee. I know, call me crazy. I love a good French espresso beverage but when I am tired from traveling, only drip coffee will do. And Dancing Goat makes a great cup! There's also a selection of delicious pastries and you can work remotely from there without getting nasty looks from the proprietors (this has happened to me before, ha!).


LA GOUTTE DES GATINES (Wine Shop)


A tiny little shop that focuses only on organic, biodynamic, and natural wines, La Goutte des Gâtines is locally owned and a breath of fresh air from the Nicolas and Nysa chains that have taken over Paris. Don't get me wrong - you can find some great wines in those caves, but I love to support local businesses when I can. The owners are friendly and have great recommendations. Just tell them what you plan on eating and they'll take care of the rest! Of note: it's only open on Saturdays for the moment, but with more business, that could certainly change.


STAY


Because it's so local, you won't see a lot of high quality hotels in the 20th, but fear not: Airbnb has some pretty incredible options. Unlike some areas in Paris, where it's clear nobody actually lives in the accommodation, each placed I've passed through in the 20th is full of life, personal touches, and hosted by someone who really calls the place home.


TIPS FOR SEARCHING IN THE 20TH ARRONDISSEMENT ON AIRBNB

  1. If you're going in the summer, make sure to inquire about fans or air conditioning. Most places will not have air conditioning, but a fan is easy to come by.

  2. Make sure you're not too far from a major métro station to ensure it'll still be easy for you to get around. I typically gravitate to the Gambetta metro station, but have also stayed near Belleville and Père Lachaise and made the most of my time in the 20th.

  3. Not afraid of stairs? Look for places with a little balcony or a view. This is a must for me! Even if there aren't any photos of one, check the reviews and see what others have said about the place.

  4. If stairs aren't for you, don't worry - you can still find a number of apartments with little terraces and gardens. That's pretty par for the course in many of the beautiful buildings in the 20th, and gives you a great place to relax, unwind, and enjoy a coffee in the mornings.

Here's two of the places where I recently stayed:

EXPLORE


QUARTIER DE LA MOUZAIA


Affectionately known as "the countryside in Paris", this little area is full of quaint, single family homes the appear untouched by modernity and the bustle of city living. You'll feel as though you're walking through a small town in northern France rather than the north of Paris. Beautiful ivy, flowers, and tall trees adorn the sidewalks, homes, and gardens. It's especially beautiful in the spring and the fall for all those exceptional colors. Certainly a place that's worth a long, languorous walk on a Saturday afternoon.


BUTTES CHAUMONT


A walk through Buttes Chaumont is always an essential part of every Paris trip. It's a vast green space with rolling hills, running paths, Art Deco fountains and artwork, and even a few restaurants (like Pavillon Puebla).


If you're looking to stay in an area that's a little farther off the beaten path, I hope you'll consider the 20th arrondissement for your next stay in Paris. It's simply too pretty, calm, and local to be missed! Bon voyage et bon séjour !


Looking for more Paris recommendations? Check out my list of favorite places from this last trip or spots I checked out in 2021. There's so much to explore! À bientôt.

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