There are multiple sides to the 12eme arrondissement in Paris. On one hand is the bustling shops, restaurants, and bars around the Place de la Bastille, and on the other hand is the quieter traditionally familial neighbourhood of Paris.
Located within close proximity to the large park Bois de Vincennes on the east and with the Canal Saint Martin next door in the 11th arrondissement, it has always been a popular neighborhood with the locals.
And certainly a lovely area for visitors to Paris to base themselves as well. So let’s see what there is to do in the 12th arrondissement, shall we? Allons-y!
What to see
The 12th arrondissement is one of the more residential neighborhoods of Paris, but there are still plenty of shops and restaurants around. This is also where the Instagram-famous Rue Cremieux can be found, but we really think you should leave its residents alone, as it is not meant to be a tourist attraction.
The 12th is home to the Opera de Bastille, otherwise known as the step-sister, compared to Opera Garnier in the 9th arrondissement which looks like a jewel box. It was inaugurated in 1989 and is a concrete and glass building, very different from traditional Hausmannian architecture in Paris.
The ballets and other spectacles inside however are just magnificent. The two opera houses operate under one management called “Opera de Paris” with ballets, operas, and other productions taking place interchangeably in both locations.
Bois de Vincennes and Rosa Bonheur à l’Est
The 12th has a large forest attached, the Bois de Vincennes, the equivalent of the residential 16th arrondissement on the west side which has the Bois de Boulogne.
It is a large park with winding paths and small ornamental lakes in the middle. You can relax and watch local Parisians enjoying their “local backyard”.
Inside you will find the Chateau de Vincennes as well as a large outdoor bar called Rosa Bonheur à l’Est, which is the newer sister bar to the classic Rosa Bonheur that is in Buttes Chaumont in the 19th arrondissement.
Coulée Vert is a 5km long elevated park built on top of an obsolete railway track. It is sometimes called the Promenade plantée and is a very imaginative way of reusing an elevated railway viaduct. The pathway is at an elevation of 10m, below which are shops featuring a variety of artisans and specialty shops.
The mall Bercy Village on the edge of the 12th arrondissement is a large outdoor mall that was implanted into restored white stone warehouses. The original buildings were part of Cour Saint-Emilion (after the Saint Emilion wines from Bordeaux) where for over a century, the largest wine market in the world was held.
The storehouses, which are registered on the French supplementary Historic Monuments list have now been converted into a large outdoor and indoor mall, right within walking distance of some of the biggest historic attractions in Paris.
The shops are open everyday from 10am to 8pm, although certain shops may be closed on Sundays.
And if you are looking for a Parisian food market, head over to Rue d’Aligre in the 12th arrondissement.
Sometimes called Marché Beauvau, the Marché d’Aligre is a charming farmers’ market located between Place de la Bastille and Place de la Nation. If you are looking for an authentic market where local long-time residents go, this is it.
Unlike the markets at Marché Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement and Marché President Wilson in the 16th arrondissement which are in the most expensive parts of Paris, Marché d’Aligre is in more of a middle-class neighborhood.
The market here is divided into two sections, with a large covered market, inside 3 halls, and an uncovered portion that runs down the rue d’Aligre. Along with foods from all across France, it also includes other items like antique, household good, fabrics, old books, furniture, etc.
The market is open everyday except Monday from 7:30am-1:30pm on weekdays and up to 2:30pm on weekends. You can book a guided tour to Marché d’Aligre here.
What to eat: Restaurants, Brasseries, and Bistros
The 12th arrondissement has plenty of hidden and not-so-hidden restaurants and brasseries near Place de la Bastille. Some favorites are:
- Les Argentiers Brasserie – French brasserie fare at 24 Rue de Reuilly, 75012 Paris
- Le Lys d’Or – Asian fare at 2 rue de Chaligny, 75012 Paris
- Le Felix Café – French traditional at 40, bd de Reuilly, 75012 Paris
You can find more ideas and ways of spending an evening in Paris here.
Bars and Nightlife
A popular area right next to the Marais, there are plenty of bars and restaurants around Bastille. Rue de Lappe is one of the most lively streets in Paris, but has been taken over by tourists to some extent. (It does make it easier to order your drinks in English though!)
The surrounding streets of Rue de la Roquette and Rue de Charonne have more traditional French bars for an apéro or dinner. Some popular bars in the area include:
- Café de la Presse – large bar with a loft style at 36 Boulevard de la Bastille, 75012 Paris
- Pachamama – formerly Barrio Latino, a Latin music bar and nightclub at 46-48 rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75012 Paris
You can find more bars and nightlife options around Paris here.
Where to stay: Hotels and other accommodation
While the 12eme arrondissement is quite large, the area around Place de la Bastille and Gare du Lyon is a lively area with plenty of bars, restaurants and nightlife. Some recommended hotels in the area are:
You can find more accommodation options for the 12th arrondissement here.