A Guide to the 11th & 12th Arrondissements

11th and 12th Arrondissements

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Known for their Bercy and Bastille neighborhoods, these burgeoning arrondissements are rampant with trendy, young Parisians. Offering a number of more affordable accommodation options, the 11th and 12th boast no major tourist attractions, but they still have much to offer in terms of things to do. These urban districts may not be the charming Paris with cobbled boulevards, but they are popular with the younger locals as their streets are lined with life and energy amidst bustling cafés, bars, art galleries, boutiques, and cinemas. This part of the city truly comes to life when the moon shines overhead, so be sure to visit in the evening with friends to get a glimpse of authentic Parisian nightlife.

 

Should I stay here?

Personally, the 11th and 12th wouldn't be my first recommendation for a short stay in Paris.

If you don't mind being outside of the main area of the city and having a longer commute to your attractions, then these would be great areas to look into for budget-friendly accommodation and easy metro access.

If you choose to stay here, find a place closer to the Marais rather than on the outskirts. Before you book, read up on reviews of the general area you'll be staying in to ensure safety at night and proximity to the attractions you plan on seeing. 

 

Highlights:

  • La Cinémathèque Française: Fellow cinéphiles rejoice! In addition to displays of relics from film history, this French film center/museum also offers classes, a library, and screenings of experimental films and the classics. It was designed by architectural genius Frank Gehry who is renowned for his designs of iconic buildings such as Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Dancing House.
  • Bercy Village: You'll feel you been transported to a retreat of village life as you spend your afternoon amidst its white stone buildings and cobbled streets. Bercy Village is a always a bustle with locals weaving in and out of its boutiques, cafés, art galleries, and cinema. 
  • Place de la Bastille: Place de la Bastille is one of France's most well-known squares and centers on the iconic Colonne de Juillet, a Corinthian-style monument. Perched atop the column is a gold angel known as le Génie de la Liberté or the "Spirit of Liberty."
  • Musée Édith Piaf: Once the private apartment of the enchanting singer Édith Piaf, famed for her song "La Vie en Rose", this museum displays memorabilia from her life, including letters, clothing, paintings, and photographs. 
  • Opéra de la Bastille: Though the exterior of the building may not be what you envision when you picture a Parisian opera house, the Opéra de la Bastille's modern architecture is still striking and is home to the Paris National Opera. If you're not able to take in a show, tours of the opera house are available if you reserve in advance.
  • Bois de Vincennes: As the largest public park in Paris, not only does it hold a garden, arboretum, 4 lakes, château, and family areas for slides and mini golf, but it also hosts numerous festivals throughout the year.
  • Palais de la Porte Dorée: This uniquely designed museum showcases artwork dedicated to the subject of immigration in France. Though I personally don't advocate aquariums or zoos, if you or your children enjoy visiting them on occasion, the basement below holds a large aquarium with various aquatic creatures and marine life.

 

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