Q Where in Paris do you recommend staying for a fun, budget weekend away?
Sarah Barrell, associate editor, National Geographic Traveller(UK): If you don’t want to suffer the overpriced and often stuffy areas of central Paris, then try the up-and-coming east. You can play at being a Parisian for a weekend in a blossoming number of affordable apartment rentals (most of them via Airbnb) in the happening 10th, 11th and 20th arrondissements.
Hotels here are thin on the ground, but the vanguard address is Mama Shelter, the budget boutique hotel that comes with Philippe Starck design and the hippest bar restaurant in the ’hood with menus recently overhauled by Guy Savoy. This urban playground is the very definition of fun.Double rooms from €109/£98.
Pop into the Flèche d’Or nightclub, straddled over the disused railway line opposite, if only for a quick drink. Set in the old Charonne station, this perennial has been welcoming partying Parisians since the 1930s when it was abandoned. But it’s the nearby Rue du Charonne where you’ll find the mainstay of affordable bars and restaurants, shops and delis. Call into L’Abribus and La Belle Equipe for lively (and cheap) happy hours, while great-value, buzzy brunch, lunch and dinner can be had in and around the ramshackle indoor/outdoor Marché d’Aligre. Cheap, if not chic, this area isn’t handsome in the classic Parisian sense, but it’s hipster central.
Meanwhile, for a real villagey vibe, the St Blaise area, just to the southeast of Charonne, comes with arty cafes set along narrow alleys and streets that are among the city’s most leafy and green.
If you want to really stretch your legs, tree-lined Père Lachaise cemetery is on your doorstep (final resting place of Oscar Wilde, Jimi Hendrix and countless other venerables), and the lesser-known Parc des Butte-Chaumont a bit further north in the hilly heights of the 10th. From here you’ll get superb views of Paris and can explore the lively hipster delights of the St Martin Canal district. It’s here that you’ll also find the aesthetic-led Generator Hostel, another fun, affordable place to base yourself for a weekend, with rooms from €88/£79.
Published in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)