10 reasons Parisians (and tourists) should visit La Goutte d’Or

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The Goutte d’Or in the 18th district of Paris doesn’t have the best of reputations.  It is ugly, messy and there is a lot of squabbling going on but it is also a part of town that can dish up some unexpected delights.  Here are ten of them:

1. The Olympic Cafe is a cultural hub that offers a quixotic mix of food, beer, music and comedy.  Mainly African specialties, you can order half a chicken and a mountain of rice at a very decent  7 euro.  Downstairs hosts a series of concerts and stand-up comedians of varying talent.  But at 5 euro a pop, you will probably be left feeling pleasantly surprised.  Get an idea of what they do here.

2. Next door is the famous Lavoir Moderne Parisien which has won rich praise from both Le Monde and Le Figaro for its risqué and politically controversial plays.  Decidedly anti-bourgeois, the spartan decor and bare beams evoke the myth of working class Paris as depicted by 19th century naturalist novelist Emile Zola.  The Goutte d’Or is indeed the setting of Zola’s ‘L’Assomoir’ about a washer-woman and her hapless and alcoholic husband.

3. The African market situated at the metro stop Chateau Rouge is street theatre at its best.  Come here to watch the bartering – and sometimes fighting  – that make this one of the most lively spots in the area.  It has a wide selection of fruit and veg and African ingredients that you can only find here.  If you like plantain based dishes this is the place for you.

4. Les Trois Freres on rue Leon is the probably the best restaurant to sample with its succulent beef cutlets and cous-cous at the decidedly old-school price of 12 euro.

5. Ignore the nay-sayers, this area does have diversity!  The ‘cinderella-esque’ couturier, Isabelle Cherchevsky has been gaining a steady following for her ‘vas-y-leon’ atelier.  Okay, she’s more your Fairy Godmother but rumour goes she’s good with pumpkins.  It also doubles up as a tea house.

6. Nearby Montmartre – the shadow of the Sacré Coeur is never far away – used to be a vineyard.  This has no bearing on the more downtrodden Goutte d’Or but it hasn’t stopped the wine merchant extraordinaire Le Cave de Don Doudine from carving out his territory. Despite being a largely muslim area, the longevity of the shop bears witness to its loyal clientele.  With more wine (and beer) than you could shake a stick at, this is a little gem of a place which also hosts exhibitions such as the one currently on show by English artist and Goutte d’Or resident Rebecca Vincenzi.

7. TATI – it’s an institution!  Not really, but it is one of the big success stories of the area.  Created in the post-war gloom of 1948, the Tunisian-born owner Jules Ouaki named the store after his mother and has gone on to forge an empire of  family-run budget department stores. With its distinctive pink and white patchwork motif,  it  re-creates the jumble-sale or ‘souk’ atmosphere with scattered discount bins of shoes, clothing and a hotchpotch of household goods.  Popular with both the muslim community and fashion students.

8. The fork in the road dividing rue de clignacourt and rue ramay is interesting for its bizarre diminishing horizon line.  On the fringes, this is where Goutte d’Or rubs shoulders with Montmartre.  Have a beer at La Chope.

9. Wander the streets and resurrect the artist in you!  This is an area in flux.

10. For better or for worse, La Goutte d’Or  is undergoing a gradual gentrification.  If this means less drugs and general seediness this can only be viewed as a good thing.

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One thought on “10 reasons Parisians (and tourists) should visit La Goutte d’Or

  1. Your article has inspired me to add Le Goutte de O’r to my “Things to Do” list when I visit Paris.

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