Nestled in a quiet residential area that's not in especially close reach of any familiar tourist attractions, the Batignolles neighborhood has long been off-radar for all but the most intrepid visitors. Leafy, quiet and village-like, the district is situated in the 17th arrondissement, just northwest of Montmartre and the often seedy Pigalle district. While reputed as a bit sleepy and uneventful, the neighborhood has been evolving in recent years, and is increasingly coveted by a young and arty crowd for its forward-thinking restaurants, laid-back nightlife, markets and sprawling green spaces. It also harbors some interesting history, notably as the former stomping grounds of Impressionist French artists and writers such as Emile Zola, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and Auguste Renoir. Some even claim that modern art itself was born in the Batignolles. Today, young artists are moving back in to the area, gradually reviving its reputation as a center of creative drive. It may not be the most exciting place in the capital, but it manages to feel at once cool and old-fashioned, quaint and contemporary. It's little wonder, then, that it's gaining a reputation as an up-and-coming neighborhood to watch in Paris. Here are 6 of the coolest things to do in the district.
Have a Drink at an Unfussy Bar
Batignolles nightlife is decidedly relaxed and unpretentious: you won't find rowdy clubs or ultra-glamorous, "see and be seen" bars in this unfussy district. Yet the area is home to plenty of cool and interesting places to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail, and enjoy small plates such as cheese, charcuterie or tapas. Here are a few we especially like and recommend.
Le Comptoir des Batignolles (20 rue des Dames, Metro: La Fourche or Place de Clichy): A relaxed, fun concept bar with retro, antique furnishings and leafy outdoor patio that's perfect for long summer nights. Serving beer on tap, wines and signature cocktails. Food here includes cheese and charcuterie plates.
Le Petit Village (58 rue de la Condamine, Metro: La Fourche): Another retro-chic neighborhood bar that's especially appreciated for its summertime punches with creative flavor combinations (think pear-ginger and orange-cinnamon). The laid-back ambiance here during the week is perfect for a before-dinner drink or light meal and cocktail; on the weekends, DJs spin and the vibe is a bit livelier.
Biotiful Batignolles (18 rue Biot, Metro: Place de Clichy): This trendy wine bar near the formerly drab Place de Clichy is partly credited with the area's transformation into a hip new area in the 17th. Boasting an excellent selection of French and international wines, tapas and small plates and innovative house-shaken cocktails, a young crowd assembles here for after-work drinks or weekend get-togethers. The place is also a local favorite among foodies for its delicious small plates.
Les Caves Populaires (22 rue des Dames, Metro: La Fourche or Place de Clichy): Situated right next to Le Comptoir des Batignolles, this neighborhood bar is loved by almost everyone, and accordingly is quite busy most evenings. Noisy, cheerful and relaxed, it's an ideal spot for a before-dinner drink, or, if space allows, a casual bistrot meal.
Take in the Old World Charm of the Square des Batignolles.
Anyone wishing to escape the hectic metropolitan feeling in Paris would do well to come chill out in Batignolles, which was, unsurprisingly, once a separate village outside the city. The Square des Batignolles is particularly charming and tranquil: full of trees, this large green space features a waterfall, grottoes, river and pond harboring waterfowl.
Right outside the entrance to the park, the market square at Place Charles Fillon boasts independent shops and bakeries, and benches for people-watching or lounging after window shopping. You might easily think yourself in a different century here. The humble white Sainte-Marie Church that stands at the square's edge certainly suggests a small French village more than it does a sprawling, cosmopolitan city.
There are many excellent dining choices around the park and on the square, all offering solid French cuisine. These include Comme Chez Maman (5 rue des Moines), appreciated by locals for its friendly service and tasty homemade dishes.
Getting There: Place Charles Fillion - Rue Cardinet, 17th arrondissement (Metro: Brochant)
Browse the Organic Farmer's Market.
Batignolles harbors one of only a handful of all-organic food markets in Paris, and it's a major local pastime on Saturday morning. Whether or not you're staying in the area, get up a bit on the early side, take a bag or two and browse the colorful market stalls that pop up in the district every weekend. You can opt to just take in the delicious sights of overflowing strawberries and vibrant purple asparagus, oozing French cheeses and fresh fish, or do some actual food shopping.
This is a great spot for stocking up on goodies for a Parisian picnic, or for scoring delicious pastries to fuel your sightseeing. Whether you buy anything or not, the cheerful, village-like ambiance is well worth the trip.
Getting there: 34, Boulevard de Batignolles (Metro: Rome or Place de Clichy)
Opening Times: Saturday mornings from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Indulge Your Inner Foodie at Coretta
One of the most innovative new French gastronomic restaurants in Paris, not to mention in Batignolles, Coretta has won over legions of foodies for their fresh, unfussy yet creative approach and focus on top-quality ingredients. Situated at the edge of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, the restaurant is named after Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther's wife and prominent civil rights activist in her own right.
The bright, airy and contemporary restaurant, headed by Chefs Beatriz González and Jean François Pantaleon, is noted for its creative, beautifully presented use of fresh vegetables, innovative flavors and globally inflected interpretation of classic French cuisine. Service is friendly and laid-back, even while the standards are high.
Carefully selected and impeccably prepared cuts of meat and filets of fish are accompanied by crunchy fresh vegetables and fruits such as daikon radish, rhubarb, cherries or radishes, seasoned with sharp, unusual and palate-awakening flavors (fresh spearmint, marjoram) and decorated with edible flowers. All meats and fish are sustainably sourced, so this is a good choice for the ethically-minded foodie. The wine list is more than solid, and counts some unusual and prized bottles, too.
For dessert, try the delicious, and utterly indulgent, caramelized brioche with ice cream. It's a gourmet spin on comfort food. A warning, though: one order is more than enough for two people.
Getting There: 151 Bis Rue Cardinet, 17th arrondissement (Metro: Brochant)
Reserve a table and view opening times at the official website
Browse Cool Scandinavian Designs at Blou
If you're a fan of Scandinavian designs from Sweden, Finland or Denmark, this cool concept boutique is definitely an essential stop in the Batignolles district. Peddling everything from bold, colorful Marimmeko kitchenware and dining sets to cozy yet stylish Muuto throw blankets and home decor items, the shop is a preferred stop for anyone crazy about Northern European design.
Across its three locations, Blou also offers a wide and selection of electronics and gadgets, accessories, design books and magazines, attractive, bold stationary and contemporary art for sale.
There are three locations in Batignolles, each specializing in different brands.
#1: 97 Rue Legendre, 17th arrondissement (Metro: Brochant or La Fourche): brands include STRING, Ferm-living, Vitra, Baskinthesun, Olow, Clae, Ferm-living, Homecore, Tolix and Muuto.
#2: 75 rue Legendre (Metro: Brochant or La Fourche): brands include Treku, Atelier Areti, Prostoria, Andtradition, Normann and Frama Copenhagen.
#3: 20 rue des Dames (Metro: La Fourche or Place de Clichy): this location specializes in the Finnish brand HAY and also carries products from Tonone, RAINS and Lumio.
Check Out Contemporary Art at Le BAL
This little-known cultural center is one of the city's coolest places for discovering local contemporary creation, and getting a general sense of what Paris' current-day arts scene is like. Holding regular exhibitions on local artists and photographers, as well as film and documentary screenings, the center also boasts a cafe, cinema and bookshop. It's a haven away from the city noise, and an ideal way to get a little inspiration. While technically in the 18th arrondissement, it's still part of the general Batignolles-Place de Clichy neighborhood, and well worth a stop.
Getting There: 6 Impasse de la Defense, 18th arrondissement