5pm A.P.C. Surplus
From the Metro stop, find your way to the Rue André del Sartre, it's not far at all. We are up north now, and very close to Montmartre. Before we head up the hill, though, there is one more shopping destination on our list.
Tucked away in this quiet neighborhood street is one of the best-kept secrets of fashionable Paris. A.P.C. has always been one of our favorite brands coming out of France. Like Maison Kitsuné, what's on offer here is quintessentially Parisian. The clothes for women and men are simple and easily stand the test of time. And A.P.C.'s leather accessories are very popular. Collections change every season, but the essence of the styles stays pretty much the same. And that is what makes A.P.C. Surplus such a treasure.
It's an outlet store of the brand, selling previous collections at a fraction of their original price. Since their designs aren't painfully trendy, you can easily get away with past seasons looks and still look super fresh. Take some time to go through the racks (there are separate shops for women and men side by side), you never know what you might find.
A.P.C. Surplus // 20 Rue André del Sartre // Mon-Sat 12.30pm-7.30pm // website
5.30pm // Montmartre
Continue down the street for a few more meters until you reach the trees. On your right you'll see a steep set of stairs leading up the hill. That's your next task!
We're climbing up to Montmartre, that famous hill overlooking the city. This area is famous for so many different reasons, and we'll try to lead you to some of them. Once you made it to the top, you'll probably end up in a massive crowd of tourists. Don't let that discourage you, though. Admire the famous Sacré Coeur cathedral instead and soak in the incredible view of Paris. If you walk a bit away from the crowds to where the trees are, you'll even catch another glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.
Then, explore the streets behind the church. This is the Paris of the artists, the painters and the bohemians. Countless historical figures have lived and worked here, from Picasso to Renoir and Toulouse Lautrec. Today there are still painters at work here, although they tend to draw caricatures of famous people or watercolored copies of the great masters. Still, it's definitely worth a stroll.
Before you start your descent, you might want to check out another secret of this area. Many people might not know this, but Paris actually has three vineyards that produce grapes for wine making. One of them is right here. The 'Clos des Montmartre' is hidden from view, you have to look for it. Behind the basilica, walk in a western direction into Rue Cortot. Pass the museum and turn into Rue des Saules. On your right, a tall wall gradually opens up the view of the vines. This vineyard was founded by the city of Paris in 1932 and produces up to one thousand kilos of grapes every year!
It's been a long, long day. Let's head back to the hotel to get some rest. Make your way down to the Metro stop Anvers and jump on the M2. Get off the train at Alexandre Dumas and walk to Mama Shelter.
7pm // Mama Shelter
Our hotel is something of a local celebrity. Mama Shelter was one of the first hotels that offered truly great design for affordable prices. A night in other design hotels of this caliber easily costs triple as much as here (you can get a double room at Mama Shelter from 89 Euro).
Designed by Philippe Starck, Mama Shelter keeps things affordable by being a bit off the city center in an area called Ménilmontant. This part of town is what you would call up-and-coming, with a diverse group of people living here. In the past years (in part due to the hotel itself), artists and creative types have swarmed Ménilmontant and the neighboring area of Belleville. There are some amazing restaurants here, cool clubs and tons of galleries and museums.
The rooms at Mama Shelter are great, with comfy beds and comic hero masks next to your pillow. There are big Apple screens and of course fast Wi-Fi all throughout the building.
Rest a bit and freshen up for dinner, then drag yourself up again and go back to the area around Canal Saint-Martin. Go by taxi or public transport. You can take the Metro M2 from Alexandre Dumas to Belleville and switch into the M11 there. Get off at République and walk the rest of the way.
Mama Shelter // 109 Rue de Bagnolet // website
8.30pm // Dinner
Instead of picking one restaurant for you, we'll let you have your pick today. There are several great and affordable places in this area, and we can wholeheartedly recommend all three. All of them are in walking distance from each other, and each one offers something different. What do you feel for? French food? Pizza? Or fancy vegetarian food? Have your pick!
Piccoli Cugini offers traditional Italian food, especially the Pizzas are worth a bite. The restaurant is cozy, service is easy going and the prices very moderate.
Soya Cantine Bio is a vegetarian restaurant that has become super popular in the past year. If you eat here, definitely order the mixed appetizers. It's a giant plate full of delicious veggies, spreads and salads.
Next door to Soya lies L'Agence. Pick this restaurant if you want to eat something traditionally French and want to enjoy some amazing wines with it. The small dishes are meant to be shared, so order a few of them and enjoy your 'French Tapas'.
Piccoli Cugini // 34 Rue des Vinaigriers // Mon-Sun 12pm-3pm & 7pm-11pm // website
Soya Cantine Bio // 20 Rue de la Pierre Levée // Mon-Fri 12pm-3.30pm & 7pm-11pm, Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-4pm
L'Agence // 36 rue des Vinaigriers // Mon-Fri 6pm-1am
10pm // Going Out
What a day! We almost can't believe we managed to squeeze so many great places into only 12hrs, but somehow, we did it. If you feel for some celebratory drinks after dinner, start off at one of our favorite bars, Zelda. The small place is close to all the restaurants we suggested above. It's run by some very passionate owners that make amazing cocktails. Each of them costs 10 Euro, a very decent price for nightlife in Paris. Keep in mind that you can only pay in cash here, so plan accordingly!
If you want more, find your way to Paris' nightlife hub Pigalle. Sure, the showgirls are still there (oh, hello, Moulin Rouge!), but the neighborhood has transformed itself into a veritable place to be recently. Really good bars and restaurants open up all around, going out here is a lot of fun.
Start out at Dirty Dick, a true Tiki Bar complete with giant smoking cocktail mugs and bartenders wearing Hawaiian shirts. Then cross the street and enter Glass, a tiny club that plays great music and has a dance floor that lights up in true Michael Jackson/Billy Jean music video style.
If you care more for civilized drinks in a hidden city garden, enter Hotel Amour. This former sleazy hotel has made the transition from seedy to sophisticated and is now another Pigalle hotspot.
A santé and Congratulations! You just sent 12hrs in Paris. Thank you for coming with us, it's been a blast!
Zelda // 6 Rue Bichat // Mon-Sat 4.30pm-2am // Facebook
Dirty Dick // 10 Rue Frochot // Mon-Sun 6pm-2am // Facebook
Glass // 7 Rue Frochot // Tue-Thu 6pm-3am, Fri/Sa 6pm-5am, Sun/Mon 6pm-2pm // Website
Hotel Amour // 8 Rue de Navarin // open daily 8am-12am // website