Where to take a break near Paris+ par Art Basel

Art, boulangeries, and bistrots in the 7th Arrondissement

Art Basel’s formidable brand sweeps into Paris this week with their inaugural Paris+ par Art Basel, proving to the world that, yes, the French capital is indeed an exciting place for contemporary art. The event will take place in the Grand Palais Éphémère, a slick glass structure on the Champ de Mars that is temporarily standing in for the real Grand Palais, the city’s major exposition venue that is undergoing long-overdue renovations. 

I lived in Paris for four years, first as a bedraggled paralegal, and then as a bedraggled art student. I had the good fortune to spend a few of those years living just next to the Champ de Mars: the upscale 7th arrondissement – though not exactly youthful or arty – was one of the neighborhoods where landlords seemed more tolerant of American interlopers who lacked the reams of official documents required to rent an apartment. As it turned out, one could do worse for neighbors than legions of cheerful grand-mères in Chanel suits.

There’s no denying this is a touristy area. You’ll quickly stumble across – and learn to bypass – the one particular street where Instgrammers flock for their Eiffel Tower shot. But the 7th is also full of the people who have lived here forever, and who maintain the vibrancy of its cafés, bistrots, bakeries, butcher shops and cheese vendors. At the end of the day, nothing can stop Parisians from being Parisians. 

Beau Gabriel

p.s. yes… Palais de Tokyo is technically in the 16th arrondissement, but it’s just close enough to the fair to be worth including here.

Le Café de Mars

Stylish and simple, this bistro has everything you need: slightly wonky chairs, razzle-dazzle floor tiles, and a grand old bar counter. The food strikes just the right balance between traditional and hip, and the menu is economical and to-the-point: you won’t have to waste much time deciding what to eat. Like with all good restaurants in Paris, the dishes change daily based on the morning market. If you’re looking for the perfect spot to grab lunch during an art break, this is it.

More Info

Maison du Pain – Łukasz Kucharski

When you arrive outside the lavender-facade of Maison du Pain, you’ll inevitably join a line of parents and school children from the école élémentaire just around the corner: in Paris, there’s no surer mark of a neighborhood’s best baguettes and pains-au-chocolat. I’d recommend some specific pastries, but let’s be honest: everything here is delicious. 

More Info

L'Ami Jean

L’Ami Jean, nestled in a side-street off Rue St. Dominique, is a fixture of the 7th arrondissement. It’s been here for ages, and its illustrious status – and commensurate prices – are based on its reputation as one of the best restaurants in the neighborhood. Their parmesan soup is famed for using two whole liters of heavy cream. It’s a truly local spot, where you’ll rub elbows (it’s cozy) with the chic octogenarians who’ve been eating here every week for most of their lives.

More Info

Musée Rodin

There are few places in Paris more atmospheric, more restorative, and more drop-dead gorgeous than the Musée Rodin. Originally built as a mansion in the 18th-century, the grand house and gardens were later taken over by the famous sculptor, who lived and worked here. The inside is full of art, and the grounds are scattered with some of Rodin’s most famous sculptures. If you need some fresh air, and a bit of tranquility, you won’t be disappointed by a visit here.

More Info

Palais de Tokyo

On the off-chance you’re still hungry for visual culture after Paris+, you’re in luck: the Palais de Tokyo is just across the river. This stately Art Deco building, with its angular walls and dramatic columns, comprises two venues. In the eastern wing, the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris has a permanent collection that includes works by Matisse, Duchamp, Soulages, Richter, and just about everybody else. In the western wing, temporary exhibitions highlight a variety of contemporary art. Several solo exhibitions just opened, featuring Guillaume Leblon, Cyprien Gaillard, and Minia Biabiany

More Info

Les Marches

Tucked in a narrow street underneath the Palais de Tokyo, this bistro is about as cinematic as they come. The menu has all the old-school favorites: steak with béarnaise sauce, veal stew, and stuffed cabbage. You may notice a small blue and red badge displayed outside: this is the mark of “Les Routiers,” a guide that historically recommended pit-stops to hungry travelers. Though Les Marches draws more fashionistas than motorists these days, it’s definitely still worth the visit.

More Info

La Cantine Du Troquet Dupleix

There’s a wonderful tradition in Paris of “market cafés”. Standing alongside open-air markets, these cheap and cheerful spots provided well-earned meals to the farmers who had risen before dawn for their trek into the city. Their model has modernized, but their spirit, and focus on super fresh ingredients, remains. La Cantine du Troquet Dupleix is a prime example, located smack in the middle of the Marché Grenelle (which takes place every Wednesday and Saturday). 

More Info

Language Toggle Icon