Paris is a city of curving rues and hidden alleys, cobblestone and courtyards. There’s no grid system with numbers and letters, no even spacing and logical layout. It was built in fits and starts, expanding from the islands on the Seine to several arrondissements barely contained within the circular ring road that serves as a basic city limit.
One of my favorite ways to explore Paris is by street: to choose a rue and then explores its cafes, restaurants, cheese shops, florists, boutiques. Paris is still (although it’s changing quickly) a city of neighborhoods, a city of independent trades instead of big box, one-stop-shop discount stores. Because of that, its streets are worth exploring: there are plenty of shiny new storefronts, but there are often hidden historical gems of shops that have been passed down from generation to generation. Here are a few of streets that I never miss on a trip to Paris:
One of my favorite market streets. I took a cooking class in Paris a few years ago, and we shopped for ingredients along Rue Montorgueil. Located right in the center of Paris, it’s super easy to get to and chock-full of history and delicious food. Stohrer is the oldest pastry shop in Paris, and La Fermette is one of the best cheese shops around. Beyond the food and the flowers, the buildings are gorgeous and St Eustache Church is one of my favorite underrated (and thus very empty) churches in Paris. I also love popping over to Au Pied Du Cochon for a bowl of incredibly rich and delicious French onion soup and glass of red wine–especially to warm up on a cold day! Bonus: David Lebovitz has an awesome food itinerary for the area if you’re interested!
I just discovered Rue Cremieux on this trip to Paris (via Instagram, of course!) and it is the most delightful surprise in a city full of whitewashed elegance. If you didn’t know it existed, it would be so easy to pass by this side street without a second glance. It’s located in the Bastille neighborhood, and it’s this little colorful oasis of well-kept homes with plenty of quirky details.
Rue des Rosiers
The Marais is my favorite neighborhood in Paris, and Rue des Rosiers has to be one of my favorite streets. It’s home to L’As du Falafel, my favorite falafel shop in all of the world; I love to get a falafel sandwich and then pop to the little hidden square down the road to eat it in the sunshine. It’s the heart of the Jewish quarter, so there are a few Jewish bakeries and delicatessens and plenty of competing falafel shops. It’s becoming trendier with more and more clothing and jewelry boutiques, but I hope it doesn’t lose its low-key neighborhood charm.
Another excellent market street, Rue Mouffetard benefits from its proximity to the Latin Quarter. There are lots of adorable cafes, bustling bars and good cheap eats for students and the backpackers staying in the street’s hostels. There are quite a lot of good crepes-to-go! But I especially love the street art details that can be found on Rue Mouffetard and the surrounding corners: it makes a “museum city” feel much more alive.
I rarely spend much time in this neighborhood, but I always make a pilgrimage to Cafe du Marche for the delicious Caesar salad and a peek at the Eiffel Tower. The Caesar salad is not a traditional Caesar, but a salad with tandoori chicken and beets and a delicious assortment of vegetables. You can get two salads and a carafe of rosé wine for under 30 Euros, complete with a little outside table to watch the world go by on Rue Cler. And I think the gorgeous designed cobblestone on Rue Cler is worth a visit in itself!
I’m obviously biased, but this is one of my favorite streets in Paris! It’s a super cute little side street in the Sixth with a fancy hotel (Le Relais Christine) and an independent theater (Studios Christine), and I just think it’s so fun. Discovering this street on my first visit to Paris as an 11-year-old was such a highlight, especially as someone who grew up in America with a French name!
What’s your favorite street in Paris?