'I recently went back to Paris for a few days before TGVing to Les Sables d'Olonne in Vendée to see my Mum, sister and older son who recently settled down nearby and got married to his long term German and lovely girlfriend. I stayed where my children stayed during their Uni exchange programs in 2013 in between Gare de l'Est and the trendy Canal Saint Martin. So by public request, I thought I would elaborate a bit more than the few Instagram photos you may have seen already. And just after the long journey from Sydney, what would you but sit at the nearby brasserie and enjoy your first café along (long black in Oz...). If you don't specify then you will end up with an expresso, and if late is your caffeine injection of choice, too bad, you will have to settle for a grand crème.
Although it is near impossible to get accomodation there without a solid connection, you can still enjoy the café downstairs, called Café A, a nice gathering place of "branchés" youngish French people attracted by the lovely courtyard and the good food at reasonable prices and limited, but good wine list including the traditional carafe, and on the first night, I didn't have the energy nor the appetite to look any further and settled down to a great steak tartare with a carafe of bio wine from Chateau de Saurs, from Gaillac AOC.
During the day on my way back from lunch with a long time friend who I had not seen for 30 years, I strolled along the Canal enjoying the warm weather and the gentle crowd feeding on the atmosphere. And was lucking to see a boat going through the lock.
The now famous - for all the wrong reasons - Place de la République is only a 15 mns walk from Gare de lest, whether you go straight via the Boulevard Magenta - but what would be the point of that when you can go along the canal and then via some more picturesque little streets?
They might well make the best croissants in Paris, but their Parisian arrogance is certainly second to none as well... For starters they are NOT open during weekends - yes, you have read properly... And then when asked if they make coffee they refer you to the Monop' across the road whose coffee machine happens to be "en panne' but point you to a bar tabac at the corner of the street on the canal, where they will happily serve you coffee and eat your viennoiseries in peace - no corkage here thank you very much!
There are also a number of trendy restaurants around, one owned by Aussies, called Holybelly - opening at 10.00am! a bit late when you only have 5 days in Paris, and one that I took my nephew and his partner to, called Aux Enfants Perdue rue des Récollets which turned out to be much better than my expectations, some here is a mini review of this unassuming place.
They also run a very nice delicatessen and bottle shop just across the road, worth checking if you want to cook at home.
I hope you have enjoyed my little glimpse of the Canal Saint Martin area of Paris and that it will entice you to go and wander the area at your own pace!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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