Hidden away between the busyness of Canal Saint-Martin and the craziness of Belleville lies a little pocket of cuteness: la Place Sainte-Marthe and its neighbouring street, la rue Sainte-Marthe. One of the most adorable patches in Paris if you ask me and one of my personal favourites. It’s almost like a tiny, one-street village.
Let me tell you how I would fit in a visit to this hidden corner of the 10th district. First I’d go for breakfast somewhere around Canal Saint-Martin, mostly because I usually stay at the République Hotel, which is just right around the corner. There are bakeries everywhere, if you want to grab a croissant on the go, but you can also walk to one of the many places that do breakfast and sit down somewhere. For me, it often ends up being Le Sésame or La Marine, I like their coffee and croissants and if I get lucky I can have breakfast on their terrace overlooking the Canal Saint-Martin. Because despite it being very touristy, I do still love the Canal, probably because it reminds me of Amélie Poulain.
Anyhow, after one too many a croissant and creamy coffee, I usually feel like a big walk. So instead of walking along the Canal – with loads of other people – I cross it, for example at the level of the Rue de Lancry, and walk towards la Rue Sainte-Marthe.
There are so many different facades, restaurants and quite frankly, indefinable little businesses in this street that it always takes me awhile to walk up to the square. I find myself standing still in front of yet another colourful place, wondering what on earth is going on behind that closed door, or dreaming about what it could have looked like 50 years ago.
When I eventually do get to the end of the street and make it to the la place Sainte-Marthe, I’m usually ready for my first drink of the day. There are several terraces to choose from, but somehow I always end up in front of a place called La Sardine (yep, just like the fish!).
There are heaps of restaurant in and around the square however, so if you want to have lunch or dinner there is plenty of choice. Unfortunately I can’t recommend one yet as I haven’t been for a real meal at la place Sainte-Marthe myself – I will try to do so next time I visit though!
One last thing: At a walking distance from la place Sainte-Marthe lies the Parc de Belleville, the place to go if you want a splendid view over the city, unspoiled by fellow tourists. Personally I find the climb to the top of the park the perfect way to end a lazy afternoon of sipping wine and eating (too much) French cheese. Besides, it also helps you work up an appetite for dinner later on in the evening… Jokes aside, the sunset you get from up there really is stunning.
Have a lovely ‘village day’ in Paris and do let me know what you thought about it!