While it is a city that often falls victim to comparison with Sydney with all its well-known icons like the Opera House, Harbor Bridge and the picturesque harbor, Melbourne has been able to build up a reputation as a globally relevant city even though it doesn’t have any obvious landmarks. A culturally vibrant and creative city that is well known for its trendy shopping strips and animated public spaces, Melbourne has been topping the most livable city list for the last 10 years. (more…)
So if you’re asking yourself where do all the cool kids hang out in Paris, away from all the tourist hordes? In and around Canal St Martin of course! Perched on top of the Canal Saint Martin lies a Berlin-esque beer garden, restaurant and art space called Point Ephémère. From the outside it just looks like a street artists haven, with some chairs strewn about with a few broken bottles amidst garbage bins. Once you get closer you realize it’s a unique space with art installations and regular programme of events as well as bar/restaurant. It’s not something you would expect to find in Paris nestled along the Canal next to a fire station but it’s certainly a nice surprise.
And since it’s Europe, expect the drinking to spill out onto the banks of the quay. Music is central to the space and the organization proclaims that “from the very beginning Point Ephémère has set rigorous musical standards as the guiding principle of its programming.” The 300-person concert venue has hosted the likes of Gang Gang Dance, Band of Horses and Love is All, and program the space around the “themes of discovery, adventurousness, event-concerts and clubbing.”
Check out their website for upcoming events. The bar/restaurant is open from 12pm to 2am Monday to Saturday and on Sundays from 1pm to 9pm.
200 quai de Valmy
Metro: Louis Blanc/Jaures
Remember the days when your grandpa would take you to have ice cream at the local ice cream parlour, where everything was handmade from the candies in the glass jars to the whipped cream on top of your banana split? Where thick shakes and egg creams came in metal cups, and you could sit at the counter on a bar stool watching the server conjure up some magical concoction in front of your eyes?
Well you don’t have to go back in time to experience this, as a little gem remnant of the good ol’ days exists to this day in Forest Hills, Queens. Eddie’s Sweet Shop, established in 1909, is still a local hangout and favorite and when you go inside it really is like stepping back in time.
The menu has all the old time favourites, from banana splits, floats, thick shakes, egg creams and sodas with all the ice cream and whipped cream still handmade.
105-29 Metropolitan Ave
Queens, NY 11367 in Forest Hills
At the intersection of Rue Oberkampf and Rue Saint Maur in the 11th arrondissement, one of the more hip and happening districts of Paris where street art runs rampant, is “Le MUR.”
Le MUR is a billboard wall that is not just any wall. The wall was set aside by the City Council with the purpose to promote contemporary art and particularly urban art, with a different artist propelling their colours and creativity up there every two weeks. The new work is bonded to the previous, thus perpetuating the principle of ephemeral street art while retaining the history. The bonding of the poster is a kind of performance that all who come to the opening can witness.
The Le MUR association was created by artist Jean Faucheur, and has been around since 2003 but it was not until 2007 that the City Council gave the association the billboard, thus transforming the space into a place of experimental art/advertising. Since its inception more than 80 artists have put their mark on this wall. If you happen to be sitting next to the wall at the café next door La Quille (like I was), you will undoubtedly get to experience live street art in action.
You can view past artworks here at lemur.asso.fr or purchase the book Le Mur/The Wall at Cite de L’Architecture bookstore
Amongst the plethora of bistros and cafes in Paris, which all tend to feel a bit monotonous after a little while, I was adamant to find something a little different and unique. My requirements were it had to have a nice view, free wifi, and good coffee — not much to ask for right? And boy did I succeed!
This place is called Sesame on Canal Saint Martin and is where you will find me on most afternoons working on my laptop, sipping a freshly squeezed juice and munching on a New York style bagel. It serves up one of the best brunches in Paris I have seen thus far, and has a New York-style inspired menu with toasted bagels and all the healthy fillings from cream cheese and salmon to roast beef and mustard. The menu is simple and delicious, and focuses on using fresh seasonal and organic produce. It has a cool kitschy retro vibe about it, sells local independent artists work on its walls and holds exhibitions and design events throughout the year. The staff are warm and welcoming (and speak English for those of you who are struggling with the language like me!). Although it can get busy on the weekends, it’s the perfect spot for some peace and quiet if you need a place to work away from the hustle and bustle of Paris.
Sesame is located at:
51, quai de Valmy
Arriving in Belleville conjures up a host of feelings and emotions. On one hand you are amidst a colourful and vibrant multi-cultural enclave that most big cities offer, but it’s coupled with the unmistakable distinctiveness of the Haussmanian Parisian landscape. Belleville is home to one of two of Paris’ Chinatowns (the other is in Place D’Italie), and over the years has seen new waves of migrants establish themselves, predominantly from North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Rue de Belleville is teeming with Tunisian, Algerian, and Moroccan restaurants, interspersed with Vietnamese, Chinese and Ethopian cuisines. Its certainly feels like the heart of Paris’ melting pot.
But what is most unique and interesting about this neighbourhood is Rue Denoyez, a small street that has been completely taken over by graffiti and street artists. This is largely attributed to it being one of the few legalized laneways for graffiti in the city, bringing a kaleidoscope of ever changing murals on its walls. A number of galleries and cafes are tucked away in its midst and it is definitely worth exploring this side of town. The streets are lined with planters that are taken care of by residents and individually decorated with poems and mosaics, and stencils, toys and teapots are stuck haphazardly on the walls, creating a quirky and whimsical feel about the place.
One of the most iconic cafés in the neighborhood, Café aux Folies (8 rue de Belleville, 75020), is a happening place on weekends, especially in warmer months when the terrace fills up. France’s most famous singer, Edith Piaf, known as the “Little Sparrow,” once performed here early in her career.
The closest metro stop to Rue Denoyez is Belleville on the 11. I encourage you to explore the area, where you will find the Muslim quarter, Chinatown and Little Arabia within moments of each other.
Close-ups of the whimsical details embedded into the walls:
Notice the mosaic flower pots, collaged onto a street post!
And for fun, here is the only lane in Belgium where graffiti is permitted and unlike Parisians, the Belgians seem to follow this law to the T!