Neighborhood guides: Live like a local in Pigalle, Paris
17 Nov 2021
Once a down-and-out area associated with the red-light district, the neighborhood of Pigalle now finds itself continuously compared to Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NYC. The similarly thriving cool boutique hotels, hip bars, concept stores, and specialty coffee shops have transformed this pocket of Paris into a global destination not to be missed.
Located in the 9th and the 18th arrondissements, the Pigalle quartier makes for a fascinating stroll - much like the city of lights itself. Naturally, we recommend visiting the infamous Moulin Rouge. Fun fact: it was the first building in Paris to be powered by electricity, back in 1885. A more modernist tourist trap is the highly Instagram-worthy pink hues of the Pigalle basketball court. You’ll find the three-way collaboration between fashion brand Pigalle, design and photography agency Ill-Studio, and sports giant Nike, tucked away on the Rue Duperré, nestled amid typical French architecture.
Paris has a hidden air about it. Its best haunts tend to be scattered across the city and down tiny alleys, however, Pigalle wears its heart on its sleeve. All of the sex shops and burlesque clubs leave nothing to the imagination, and you’ll most likely find yourself sipping luxurious coffee right next door. GQ magazine summed it up perfectly: “It's a hood sans pretense.”
Here are the spots we recommend.
This Pigalle bar has a seedy past, as in another life the space was a brothel, but now, when you enter, you’ll find yourself in a full-fledged tiki bar, overflowing with pseudo-Polynesian flair. Dirty Dick specialties include the Twisted Typhoon, a tropical combination of guava and passionfruit syrup, gin and a splash of lemon and lime juice; and a Guadeloupe frappé – a frozen twist on the Ti Punch, a tipple native to the French Caribbean islands.
Chef Jody Williams opened the first of her French-inspired wine bars, Buvette, in the West Village of New York. Exporting her gastrothèque to Paris in 2013, it received rave reviews, and for good reason. This romantic, perfectly Parisian little wine bar, is ideal for those looking to try small versions of dishes like coq au vin, moules, and tartines. It's also known for its local, seasonal salads, as good ones are still hard to find in many traditional French restaurants.
Fans of Gloria in Shoreditch will most likely have heard of the Big Mama Group’s Pigalle outpost, Pink Mamma, a very welcome Italian-centric addition to the very French dining scene in Pigalle. This big and friendly trattoria, spread over four floors, serves everything we’ve come to expect from the international hospitality brand.
Bob’s Bake Shop
First came Bob’s Kitchen, and then Bob’s Juice Bar, and now, there’s Bob’s Bake Shop. The shop serves up organic offerings such as delicious bagels (the bread is baked fresh every day, of course), and both mouth-watering waffles and ultra-healthy salads, making it a go-to for any diet or dish you fancy.
Oh My Cream
Oh My Cream has a few shops scattered around Paris, with one on rue des Martyrs, and here you’ll find labels including Tata Harper, Pai, and Oskia, as well as niche make-up brands such as RMS Beauty. One short visit, and you’ll understand why Oh My Cream is a firm favorite with beauty editors and skincare fanatics alike.
Maison Kitsuné adds a touch of modern Parisian style to the Pigalle neighborhood. Founded in 2002, the brand has a bold, contemporary vision that's gone on to fuse the worlds of fashion, music and coffee throughout its global locations. You’ll find the Pigalle outpost is housed in a 1862 building designed by celebrated French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.
If you’re more of a conscious consumer, and like to shop with a touch of thrift, head to Chinemachine. The destination may feel a little like organized chaos upon entry, but make sure you rummage as this is where you might find some Issey Miyake or Dior hidden in their never ending piles of vintage goods.
André Saraiva's Hôtel Amour is the ‘porny’ hotel and restaurant that began the neighborhood's revival in the first place. The moody destination comes complete with phallic iconography and naked Ryan McGinley prints spread throughout the rooms, all in homage to Pigalle's former life.
Looking out over Pigalle’s leafy green Place Lino Ventura is KBCaféShop. This specialty coffee destination takes its cue from bars in Australia, which is why you’ll notice Antipodean favorites such as the creamy flat white, long black and mochaccino on the menu, as well as many iced concoctions served all year round.
Sarah Amouyal and her husband, Emmanuel Murat, bring Levant-inspired favorites, from rugelach to babka, to this little independent bakery, Babka Zana in South Pigalle. Expect to find babka in all shapes and sizes – individual, cake, pie – and infused with flavors such as cinnamon-muscovado, Iranian and Turkish pistachio-orange blossom, halva-lemon, and a chocolate-hazelnut iteration based on spread A La Mère de Famille.