Le Pigalle, Paris
By Melissa Twigg
At the top of one of the many café and restaurant-filled arteries that wind their way up to Pigalle is a creatively decorated (and particularly sexy) boutique hotel. Found in a revamped Haussmann building in touching distance of some of the best addresses in an already very trendy arrondissement, this is the sort of hotel Parisians suggest to their friends.
The bedrooms are so beautifully decorated you barely notice their small size. And with a record player on the table, double doors to fling open onto the street and quirky art on the walls, they feel more like a glamorous couple’s bolthole than your classic city hotel. A couple, that is, stirred by bohemian references, so long as expensive sheets, power showers and duck down pillows accompany them.
The breakfast room spills through Parisian doors onto a sunny courtyard, and, despite being fairly limited, everything is fresh, delicious and delightfully croissant-focused. The restaurant also puts on lunch and supper, serving creative riffs on French bistro classics (and attracting a cool, well-dressed and largely millennial crowd).
A DJ appears on the weekends, when a mix of guests and locals lean into the cocktail menu (unusually long for French restaurants). If there weren’t so many enticing spots nearby, you’d be forgiven for staying put.
Family friendly: While there are no rules stated for under-12s, this feels like a very grown-up joint. A box of complimentary condoms on the bedside table would suggest that Le Pigalle is a wiser choice for a romantic getaway than a weekend trip with your mother…
Accessibility: The rooms are just big enough for a wheelchair and guests zip between floors in one of those tiny, rickety Parisian lifts. But the narrow corridors, petite showers and tight spaces mean it’s not the ideal option for anyone with mobility difficulties.
Insider tips to know: The vegetarian options here are limited (and all cheese-based), though this is a typical theme for Paris’s restaurant scene. Most bedrooms look onto the street and have double doors leading onto a pocket-sized balcony – lovely for surveying the minutiae of everyday Parisian life with an espresso and Pain au Chocolat, not so good for sleeping given the number of stylish drinking holes nearby. Go, but bring earplugs (or simply dive into Pigalle’s labyrinthine bar scene).
Location Guide: Pigalle Paris
Do: There’s a reason why the streets leading from Notre Dame de Lorette to Pigalle are some of the most sought after in Paris (for renters and restaurateurs alike). Prettier than London’s Soho but with the same thrumming scene filling cafés, bars and boutiques, Sous-Pigalle – as it’s now known – is the ideal place to spend a weekend. One thing that certainly distinguishes this area from anywhere in London is the street market every morning on Rue des Martyrs – flogging every type of cheese, wine and olive, as well as cotton sundresses and artisanal earrings ready for Saint-Tropez jaunts – it is impossible not to while away an hour tasting and pinning accessories up to a make-shift mirror.
One of the great pleasures of this area is how local it is, although if you fancy some hardcore tourism, Montmartre is a 15-minute walk north – and coming back will feel like a tonic after the beautiful-but-rammed area around the Sacré-Coeur and the Place du Tertre. Far quieter but just as lovely is the nearby Musée de la Vie Romantique – a free museum in an 1830 hôtel particulier filled with paintings, books and ornaments from the early 19th century and an exceptionally pretty outdoor cafe.
Eat: Django is a five minute walk away and is one of the best new restaurants in Paris; it serves entirely seasonal, only local produce and attracts the sort of sleek, chic crowd that makes you feel mildly insecure about an outfit you were delighted by five minutes earlier. Food-wise, the tuna with hazelnut is a wildly delicious plate to opt for, along with the prawn, thyme and lemon ravioli. Equally fashionable is the courtyard restaurant at Hotel Amour – a stellar spot for a sun-doused lunch, which tucks one of Paris’ best goat’s cheese salads under its off-beat sleeve. Although if classic French fare is on the agenda then Le Bon Georges is the sort of dimly lit, checked-tablecloth bistro where the cooking and goods conversation tend to eclipse any interior concerns.
Drink: Two doors down from Le Pigalle is Les Justes, which Parisians assure me is one of the best cocktail bars in the city. Beautifully presented (and begging for an Instagram shot) the cocktails taste as good as they look – and you don’t even have to worry about stumbling home in a foreign city with the hotel in spitting distance. For a glass of red wine, some olives and an evening of top-drawer people watching, nothing beats the Café du Théatre on rue Saint Georges.