This post is part of our Love Letter series: first-person accounts of what we love about Paris.
It was a grey mid-December day, but it still seemed like I could see all of Paris.
There I stood, nose to floor-to-ceiling window of a sixth floor, one-bedroom on rue Paul Bert in the 11th arrondissement, contemplating signing a two year lease.
“If you don’t take this apartment, you’re crazy,” said my friend who’d come with me to see it for a second time.
I was having doubts. Not only because it was on the sixth floor—sans elevator—but because it was in a part of the 11th I wasn’t familiar with. I couldn’t even pronounce the closest metro stop: Faidherbe-Chaligny.
“I’m telling you, Sara,” she urged, “This is a great deal on an amazing street. And look at this view!”
She had a point. Being this high up produced tremendous light even on a dreary day.
“But wait, how do you pronounce the stop again?”
“Fay-dayrb Sha-lyn-ee,” she said slowly.
And she’d continue to do so, again and again, once I decided to sign on the dotted line.
Rue Paul Bert
Now, over two years later, I am not only in love with chez moi and its sunset views, slanted walls and vis a vis neighborly quirks, but the street it’s located on, too.
Named after a popular physiologist and politician from the late 1800s, the one-way street is short in length, but mighty in offerings. Aside from a handful of merchants that provide everyday services and goods—there’s a wine shop, a tailor, a nail salon, a laundromat, a well-stocked supermarket and a pharmacy—there are a host of speciality stores and establishments; many of which make it a destination in its own right.
For starters, and conveniently located downstairs for mornings when I’m out of beans, there’s Nomade coffee shop whose atypically large, light-filled space is WiFi-friendly and at-the-ready with speciality brews.
Across the street, Terroirs d’Avenir sells artisanal produce, cheeses, meats and other unique food items (hello, edible flowers!) to those who fancy themselves a gourmand. And on days when you don’t feel like getting your Alain Passard on, they have daily soup and sandwich specials such as a creamy turnip velouté or goat cheese, olive tapenade, sliced radish and shredded carrots on a baguette.
One of the city’s most popular French bistros, Bistrot Paul Bert, is smack dab in the middle of the block, which is great for visiting friends who inevitably want a plate of steak-frites. (They also do an incredible sole meunière.) Service, however, can be stereotypically snippy, so I prefer venturing over to La Cave du Paul Bert (16 Rue Paul Bert) or Le 6 Paul Bert for service with a smile—or at least a smirk. La Cave is all about natural wines and small shared plates, while Le 6 is more gastronomic, with a menu that changes weekly based on seasonal products.
Further down, there’s a darling boutique appropriately called Paul & Bertine that sells an array of floral dresses, wide-leg trousers, ruffly blouses and dainty jewelry—all mostly from Parisian brands. To avoid going up a size, I only pop in on days when I haven’t eaten the special “hamsburger” sandwich on an olive roll from new-to-the-block Ham’s Maison de Jambons, a pork specialist whose charcuterie selection always makes me wanna get piggy with it.
Finally, there’s what I like to call the “Cyril Lignac Triangle.” The chef and baker has not one, but three establishments at the end of the block, starting with his pâtisserie where my guilty pleasure is a buttery chausson au pommes. His chocolaterie is a great place to sit and read over a warm cup of hot cocoa, while the newly-refurbished restaurant Le Chardenoux serves elevated bistro fare in a truly regal setting.
So you see, there’s enough here not to go anywhere. But Paris is full of charm, so I do venture occasionally—especially now that I can pronounce the metro stop like a pro.