Living in the 11th District of Paris

The 11th district of Paris is located on the right bank of the Seine. At first glance, the neighborhood seems to be clearly divided between the two blocks north of Place de la Republique and Belleville, and two blocks south of Place de la Nation and Place de la Bastille. However, within this deceptively regular boundary, the 11th district is a hodge-podge mix of contradictions. The area combines a fascinating history with a new reputation of being truly diverse: traditional stores selling homemade goods next to the established brands of Starbucks and Monoprix, and the French bakeries, brimming with pastries and baguettes are interpersed with Moroccan and Indian spiceries. The busy roundabout near the Bastille is located just two minutes from many green and shady parks. Even a permanent resident can never get tired of the 11th district of Paris.

Housing

The 11th district is less touristy than other parts near the Seine, and is mainly popular with young professionals. As a result it is often easier than other central areas of Paris to find a small apartment at a good price. A studio flat can be rented long-term for anywhere between €7001600 per month, depending on size. Want to buy? You'll find obscenely tiny studio rooms starting from €60,000-75,000, whereas a more spacious 60m2 flat will cost somewhere in the realm of €400,000-550,000.

Many families also live in the area and there are many schools located in the neighbourhood. There are a good range of houses available, with an average-sized house running at around €700,000-850,000, and a more spacious five bedroom house with a garden topping €2,500,000 or more.

The disadvantage of living in a more residential neighbourhood is the relatively low number of hotels for temporary visitor. There are several hotels catering to small budgets (including an Ibis) throughout the district, with rooms starting from €60. For students and backpackers, you can also find hostels with private rooms and shared dormsin the region of €15-20. However, although the five-star Grand Hotel Francais over in Nation is truly beautiful, it is difficult to find a hotel with three stars if you want a little luxury at a reasonable price.

On the other hand, the advantage of living in the eleventh district is that its atmosphere is more one of "permanence" rather than the "transient" tourist nature of other central districts of Paris. The streets are wider and shops are generally smaller than most other vibrant neighborhoods, and the apartment buildings are truly pretty. The slate roofs, balconies, wrought iron, and window boxes filled to overflowing with flowers are common and beautiful sights to behold.

Eating Out

The 11th district has plenty of traditionally French cafes who'll serve up a costly croissant and fresh orange juice accompanied with a "beautiful" view of the peak hours traffic of the Place de la Bastille. However, the area is also full of cafes set away from the main thoroughfares that are worth seeking out. The Falstaff of the Place de la Bastille is an exception to the other tourist traps; this writers' cafe boasts not only a beautiful wood interior, but also a writing workshop twice a month. In the same vein, Cafe de la Plage on Rue Charonne offers an evening of slam poetry every second Monday, and Pop In on Rue Amelot offers music in the form of an open mic night.

If your emphasis is on food rather than entertainment, try Alter Mundi Cafe on Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud. This noble little cafe offers organic and fair trade produce. And for an exquisite dining experience, try Le Bistrot du Peintre on Avenue Ledru Rollin - the food is delicious and the waiting staff are real good lookers!

Nightlife

Generally considered beyond the pale in the 1980s, the eleventh district has been reborn from its ashes. The districts of Bastille and Oberkampf in particular are at the forefront. It's a fantastic area for music lovers, from the nightclubs Le Bajalo on Rue de Lappe or Club La Lune on Rue Keller to throw night-time shape to the more sedate evening offered by several music bars in the neighborhood. If you are a fan of rock, check out Le Fanfaron on Rue de la Main D'or, or La Mécanique Ondulatoire on Passage Thiéré, which puts on four performances a week, and boasts a wonderfully unique setting? For pop, try Le Motel on Passage Josset. Planète Mars on Rue Keller puts out punk, psychedelic funk or electro by a different DJ each night, and a must for everyone is Twenty One Sound Bar on rue de la Forge Royale. The cocktails are expensive, but it's really the only true hip-hop bar in Paris.

Notes that many travel guides say that the northern end of the 11th district is the best area for nightlife. It is true that the south is more residential, but there are many fantastic places in the south to stay until the wee hours without ever needing to go further north than Rue de Chemin Vert.

Safety

Without a doubt the 11th district is an area of the city where you can feel comfortable. It is lively enough to not feel isolated, yet quiet enough not to be intimidating, either during the day or night. Vagrants are common around the supermarkets, but they do not have an aggressive presence. This may be because the 11th district is a less touristy area than others in Paris - the muggers and the pickpockets seem less willing to target real Parisians!

Hannah Simpson