If you’re visiting Paris, at some point you’re almost guaranteed to find yourself wandering through the historic cobbled streets of Montmartre- the popular Paris neighborhood where you can lose yourself in winding passages packed full of charm before heading up to watch the sunset from the Sacré-Cœur. I don’t blame you.
But if you want to get to ditch the tourist crowds and get to know the 18th Arrondissement like a Parisian, then head north of the basilica into Clignancourt, Paris' unassuming and multicultural neighborhood which might not have Montmartre’s classic postcard aesthetic but still packs some massive punch.
I absolutely love this creative hub, which should feature in every Paris neighbourhood guide- but then again, if it did it would draw all the massive crowds and right now you can wander the vibrant streets without a tourist in sight. So, if you do find yourself in Clignancourt, I would recommend you check out some of my favourits spots to eat and shop.
Welcome to Clignancourt
Despite being so close to one of the most famous attractions in Paris, Clignancourt has stayed relatively off the radar, which is great in my books since the lack of tourists means a local vibe, no horrific tourist price tags and the most authentic spots to eat in the whole of the 18th.
This cosmopolitan Paris neighborhood is world-renowned for its antiques market, where you will find tangled streets and cramped antique stall brimming with forgotten treasures, but there’s much more to this area than le marché aux puces.
To experience life like a local, this is a great place to start - from cheap, authentic eats to unpretentious shops, tiny cafes to everyday roadside markets, Clignancourt will give you a taste of Montmartre that most tourists don’t see.
Breakfast, which let’s be honest often turns into brunch, is a serious business in Paris and Clignancourt. This can only be a good thing I think, but it does mean that the choice can be a little overwhelming.
A good place to start is La Jolie Boheme. Located in the heart of Porte de Clignancourt, the atmosphere is always warm and the menu is packed with all the delicious French breakfast dishes you've been dreaming of.
Another well-kept secret is La Bossue, a pâtisserie-comptoir serving the best buffet-style breakfast you’ll ever have. If you want to brunch at the weekends call ahead to book though, as they only take reservations at 10.30 am.
Or if you feel like breaking with tradition, head to Hardware Société for an Australian twist on French classics. This may seem like an odd choice, but I promise the pastries, which are sourced from local Boulangerie Bo and the Aussie coffee won’t disappoint.
When visiting France, you have to indulge in authentic cuisine, which you will find in abundance in Paris and Clignancourt.
There is no better place to taste the myriad of flavours that make up France's diverse food scene than at Café Pimpin. Well, at least I believe so. This is my favorite place to grab breakfast. The eatery's outpost in the 18th has a menu that leans more towards avocados and bagels than buttery pastries and heavy bistro fare and is a popular spot with the young local crowd.
If you are staying near the Porte de Clignancourt, you could also stop by Boulangerie Lecamus. Pick up breakfast while it’s still warm from the oven of a local boulangerie, or getting started with the makings of a picnic - you can pick up other French delicacies for your feast from the market!
The motto around here is to shop local and fresh, so to get you started here are my three favourite bakeries in the Clignancourt: Boulangerie Lecamus (closed on Sundays), Panifica (closed Saturdays and Sundays) and Boulangerie Bel Ange (145 Rue Marcadet). I won’t blame you if you spend the entire trip eating croissants.
Tuck into authentic cuisine
Part of the reason I love Clignancourt so much is down to the variety of eateries! Since there are hardly any tourists here, the cafes, restaurants and bistros are all run by locals and serve up authentic dishes at affordable prices.
So whether you fancy globally influenced cuisine (Clignancourt is Paris’s most multi-cultural areas) or to eat in traditional bistros, Porte de Clignancourt is the place to be.
If you’re looking for a classic style French bistro, head to Café de la Butte or Jolis Mômes (1 Rue Letort) where the food is authentic, traditional and absolutely delicious!
Le Chant des Oliviers will whisk you away to the Côte d’Azure for a few hours with its authentic southern flavours and light desserts whilst O Q de Poule is the neighbourhood go-to spot for home style cooking. You’ll always find something delicious to eat around here, but I recommend reserving a table if you want to try these spots just in case.
The famous Flea Market
No visit to Paris, and Clignancourt, would be complete without experiencing the famous Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. There is a reason why this flea market features in Paris neighborhood guides. It is a treasure chest of vintage finds, bric a brac and antique jewels waiting to be unearthed - just as long as you can navigate through the maze of tiny streets which the market is held in.
These tiny stores spill their contents out into the lanes, and you’ll find antique dealers and locals sharing coffee at rickety old tables - if you’re lucky they might ask you to join them! If the second-hand goods at Paris’s beloved flea market weren’t enough, head to Tombées du Camion, which translates as ‘fallen off a truck’. It’s a little out there, but this unusual shop is packed full of vintage gems, and amongst the weird is the wonderful - I won’t spoil it for you, go and see for yourself!
Be warned- while exploring this Paris neighborhood it’ll be hard to resist buying fresh fruit and other delicacies from the open markets which line the streets around Jules Joffrin, but if you want to take a little slice (or many slices) of Paris home with you, head to the Fromagerie de Montmartre. Stepping in to this shop feels a lot like stepping in to some sort of cheese heaven (if there was such a thing) and even better, they’ll vacuum pack your purchases for the trip home.
Things to do, places to see
Not to be outdone by the Basilica du Sacré-Cœur in Paris, Clignancourt has its own cathedral, the beautiful neo-gothic Notre Dame de Clignancourt, which is just opposite the equally stunning Marie du 18e Arrondissement.
Stroll through Rue de Poteau and stock up on the rest of your picnic supplies (you know, the one we mentioned earlier?) from the little pâtisseries and stores selling pâté, sausages, cheese, bread and head to the Square de Clignancourt to enjoy!
If you want to immerse yourself in the cultural and creative spirit of this Paris neighborhood there are also a variety of galleries and museums nearby that you can explore. Stroll through the streets and simply wander into one of their many venues, chat to the owners and get to know the faces and stories of porte de Clignancourt.
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