by EMILY MONACO
It starts with a stay at the Grand Pigalle Hotel
Down a quiet street in Paris’ former Red Light District, the Grand Pigalle Hotel is a must for foodies visiting the City of Light. In the heart of the neighborhood most Parisians in the know are now calling SoPi (South Pigalle), this hotel isn’t just steps from the starkly white basilica of Sacré Coeur and the cobbled streets that have tempted artists from Vincent Van Gogh to Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian to Johnny Depp. It’s also just around the from rue des Martyrs, which, in a city of delicious places to eat, somehow manages to be a standout. Indeed, Elaine Sciolino, author of The Only Street in Paris, called it “a half-mile of magic.” And that’s not all. In lieu of regular old room service, Grand Pigalle Hotel boasts a menu from none other than Greg Marchand of Michelin-starred Frenchie.
Since 2015, the boutique hotel has married the typical setting of a Haussmannien-style Parisian abode with a contemporary eye to service, hospitality and going the extra mile. Each of the 37 state-of-the-art rooms and suites is unique, decorated in deep blues and greens by designer Dorothée Meilichzon and boasting, depending on the room, a bathtub, balcony or French door window views over Parisian rooftops. It’s the ideal jumping-off point for this culinary marvel of a neighborhood.
Start your day with a sticky chai latte from KB CaféShop KB CaféShop
Start your morning off with a quick stroll just up the street to KB CaféShop (53 Av. Trudaine). In a city that was, until recently, surprisingly devoid of great coffee, this spot stands out, with excellent filter pours and a lovely, sticky chai latte.
You could enjoy it here — there’s more than enough room — but instead, grab it to go and join the fast-moving queue at Babka Zana (65 Rue Condorcet), the city’s babka specialist since 2020. With a rotating roster of not just babka but also other Levantine specialties like rugelach, cheesecake and challah, it’s the perfect breakfast go-to. There’s always a seasonal offering, but the classic Indonesian cinnamon babka is always a winner.
After you’ve had a bite to eat, have a wander up to Montmartre and explore this beautiful neighborhood atop the city’s tallest hill. The viewpoint from the steps below Sacré Coeur is famous for a reason, and the cobbled streets offer more than enough picturesque vistas to keep your Insta story buzzing.
Come back home for lunch from Mamiche (45 Rue Condorcet), a local bakery known for its sourdough. Everything here is good, from the simple buns to the croissants to the dense, whole grain breads with rye, spelt, pumpkin seeds and flax, but we can’t get enough of their sardine sandwich, made with a rich sardine pâté known as rillettes and bitter greens.
If you’d rather assemble your own lunch, head instead to Farine & O (10 R. des Martyrs) for a traditional baguette (the one that just landed itself a spot on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage) before stopping for cheese at Fromagerie Quatrehomme (26 R. des Martyrs) whose matriarch was one of the four inaugural winners of the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsperson in France) distinction in the arts of cheese aging and selling. Her children Nathalie and Maxime now run the series of shops dotted throughout Paris, peddling unique creations including an exquisite smoked goat cheese aged in Nikka whiskey that smells like a woodfire and tastes like heaven.
For dessert, pay a visit to Fou de Pâtisserie (36, rue des Martyrs), which stands out by not employing a pastry chef at all. Rather, the shop offers a curated selection of the best pastries from pâtissiers across the city. Offerings change regularly, but the pistachio tartlet from Jardin Sucré is always a crowd-pleaser.
If you don’t find anything to whet your appetite, a few steps away, Sucre Coeur (12, rue Manuel) prides itself in offering something for everyone: vegan Julienne is made with lemon cream, confit lemon and black lemon powder, while Gaspard, boasting organic chocolate cream, ganache, cake and Chantilly is sure to please any chocoholic. And, like all the tarts here, it’s totally gluten-free.
With a bit of sugar coursing through your veins, take a wander over to the Musée de la Vie Romantique to explore this 19th century private mansion and its exhibits on romantic era stars from George Sand to Ernest Renan. Once you’ve visited the permanent and temporary exhibits, take a seat in the garden for a cup of tea and a slice of dense passionfruit-coconut or citrus-rose cake from Rose Bakery (also available at their 46 rue des Martyrs shop, where, by the way, their square quiches with buttery quiche shells are to die for).
If you prefer your afternoon snacks in savory form, head back to your hotel, where the maple-bacon scones made famous at Frenchie’s to-go shop on rue du Nil in the 2nd arrondissement are often on offer — the perfect marriage of sweet and savory.
When it comes time for dinner, you could certainly opt for Marchand’s room service, which evolves with the seasons but always offers more than a handful of plant-based choices. Marchand’s international training and inspiration are clear in his Indian-spiced roasted cauliflower or winter squash Napoleon, which feature among more meat-driven choices like binchotan-grilled monkfish or a play on chicken nuggets made instead with veal sweetbread.
If you’d rather dine out, join the queue at Bouillon Pigalle (22 Bd de Clichy, 75018), a modern reimagining of the working class bouillon. A staple of the 19th century Parisian dining scene, these restaurants offered quick, easy, inexpensive French fare. Bouillon Pigalle more than lives up to its roots, with classics like bœuf bourguignon, escargots and French onion soup executed flawlessly and cheaply. Don’t miss the oh-so-simple egg-mayonnaise — a dish no more and no less than the sum of its two excellent titular parts, so wonderful as to earn it the honor of most-ordered dish in France on French food delivery service Deliveroo. Be sure to save room for the excellent profiterole with pour-your-own dark chocolate sauce, and it’s time to roll home (downhill, thank the gods!) to sleep off the delicious day.
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