With its mixture of gourmet markets, cutting-edge drinking holes, and historic landmarks, Paris' Bastille neighborhood allows travelers to escape the city's bustling center and discover the "Parisian's Paris." Boutique and bohemian, Bastille buzzes with creativity, most evident in the shops and artist studios that populate its streets. The heart of the area is Place de la Bastille, the former home of the Bastille fortress, where traffic whirls at a roundabout topped by the 170-foot (52-meter) Colonne de Juillet.
Due to its historical significance, the Bastille district is an integral part of many Paris city tours. Specialized excursions that focus solely on the Bastille arrondissement are also available, and one of the best ways to absorb the culture and French history is on a food tour that centers on the area's thriving culinary scene and markets. Feast on French delicacies and enjoy wine tasting at Marche d'Aligre market, browse shops selling charcuterie and cheese, and stroll along Promenade Plantee, a 19th-century rail viaduct transformed into the world's first elevated park. Other Bastille highlights include the Viaduc des Arts, a modern version of an old Paris viaduct, Port de l'Arsenal, and Opera Bastille, an innovative structure whose interior can be explored on a guided tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A Bastille tour is ideal for history and food lovers.
- The neighborhood is most often visited on half-day walking tours of Paris.
- Book a tour of Opera Bastille in advance to see the opera house's interior.
How to Get to Bastille
Bastille is easily reachable by car, train, or on foot from the center of Paris. The Bastille metro station is serviced by Line 5—it takes about 40 minutes to reach from central Paris landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower. If you're time-rich, walking to the Bastille district along the banks of the Seine River will reveal Paris' finer details. During the 90-minute stroll along Quai d'Orsay, you'll pass the famous Louvre museum pyramid, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and a scattering of bridges and parks.
For a half-day hike, follow the Promenade Plantee on a 2.7-mile (4.5-km) trail to Bois de Vincennes, former royal hunting grounds home to the Parc Zoologique and Parc Floral de Paris.
When to Get There
At night, Bastille comes to life with an eclectic mix of swanky wine bars, raucous taverns, atmospheric jazz clubs, and cutting-edge cocktail bars. Begin your evening with fine French fare at an intimate bistro and end your night dancing among Parisians.