Canal St. Martin, Paris Canal St. Martin, Paris © Paris Tourist Office/Amélie Dupont

5 reasons to visit Paris' 'No Go Zones'

Our guide to walking, eating and culture in some of Paris' most vibrant quarters that you shouldn't think twice about visiting

After the dreadful Charlie Hebdo attacks, one unfortunate US news channel broadcast an interview with a so called ‘security expert’ who likened some of Paris’ neighbourhoods to Baghdad, claiming some areas in the centre were ‘No Go Zones.’ This is not the case and Parisians have been quick to defend their favourite quarters as centres of cafe culture, architecture, bohemian living and homegrown talent, urging tourists to visit. Living dangerously, we visited them all and picked out 5 reasons to visit the so-called 'No Gos...'

Canal St. Martin

One of the ‘bobo’ or Bohemian Bourgeois Parisian’s favourite hangouts when the sun is out, the a 4.5km long canal connecting the Canal de l'Ourcq to the river Seine is just the spot for a laid back aperitif. On a warm sunny day the canal’s banks are lined with terraces where families and friends congregate, dine al fresco or have picnics along the water. The atmosphere is warm, welcoming and relaxed. For cold weather strolls, stop by the hole in the wall Ten Belles cafe for a coffee and slice of carrot cake.

Le Pere Lachaise

CemetryLe Pere Lachaise Cemetery 

Although going for a wander in a cemetery might not sound like the obvious choice, this vast repository for the city’s dead is a calm and beautiful place to while away a few hours.

It’s also the spot to pay your respects to a host of legends including Honore de Balzac, Marcel Proust and Edith Piaf who rest alongside Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, amongst others. Definitely serene and a little surreal, it’s a surprisingly relaxing haven amidst the Parisian hustle and bustle.

Related: Best parks in Paris

Dinner at Flo's Brasserie

brasserie-flo2Brasserie Flo

Hidden away in the tiny cobbled street is a Parisian institution. A typical Belle Epoque ‘Brasserie Alsacienne’ it’s all about good hearty food, a buzzing atmosphere and giant ‘fruits de mer’ seafood platters. A must for Art Deco fans, the entire place oozes authenticity and hasn’t changed an iota since 1871. A hip spot in the 80’s thanks to its proximity to the theatres, it’s still a busy and sought after table in town. It’s also worth popping into the bar Tom, next door for a nightcap.

Related: Paris' best Belle Epoque restaurants

Sweet treats from Michalak masterclass

MM-Faubourg-PoissoniereMichalak Masterclass Faubourg Poissoniere

Master patisserie chef Christophe Michalak, sometime heartthrob and TV show chef, has opened a boutique on Faubourg Poissonière. Part laboratory, part patisserie, the aroma inside is a heady mix of baking, zesty lemon and chocolate.

It’s the place to take classes if you fancy picking up some patisserie tips from the man who has trained with Pierre Herme and done his time at Laduree, the Plaza Athenaeum and the Negresco in Nice. Failing that, it’s a great place to sample chocolate in stunning packaging and pick up a few gifts. What’s not to love?

Related: How to live like a Parisian

Hip Burger Bars

The streets around Faubourg St Denis have seen an explosion of hip restaurants opening up over the last few years, including some of Paris’ hottest burger bars. Names like Big Fernand’s, where the kids queue outside daily for a taste of the best burgers in town have given the area a new lease of life, this place even does deliveries, so you can enjoy gourmet burgers wherever you are over lunch.

At the tiny Paris New York diner-style outpost, the wait can be up to three hours long so time it right. According to their sign outside, their burgers are cheaper than a session at the shrink’s... Go figure. 

Related: Best burgers in Paris

1 Brasserie Flo
2 Christophe Mickalak
3 Big Fernand Paris 9e
4 Paris New York
5 Canal Saint-Martin
6 Père Lachaise Cemetery