Paris is famous for a lot of things – fashion, art and iconic monuments like Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, plus all the rich history the surrounds it all. But have you explored Sentier – an up-and-coming neighbourhood in the 2nd arrondissement? Nicknamed Silicon Sentier, it's a place that really turns on the Parisian charm.
From shopping for French literature to tips on grabbing yourself some free madeleines while queuing up outside the Sézane store, we've done the searching for you.
Here are a few great places to shop, eat and stay while you're in Sentier – one of the 2nd arrondissement's coolest neighbourhoods:
The covered passages
Sadly, many of the city's stunning covered shopping arcades no longer exist. But of the few that remain, some of the finest can be found in the 2nd arrondissement. Passage du Caire (2 Place du Caire) in the Sentier is the longest, oldest and narrowest of these, though its scruffy clothes shops are (just) on the crap rather than hipster side of dishevelled. A short walk away you'll find textiles and bric-à-brac under an elaborate glass roof in the Passage du Grand-Cerf (145 Rue Saint-Denis) or stamp-shop heaven in Passage des Panoramas (11 Boulevard Montmartre).
Librairie Petite Egypte
More than just a bookshop, Petite Egypte is a hub of neatly ordered creativity in the heart of the Sentier. It is, as you'd imagine, stuffed with beautiful and thoughtfully curated reading material – from French literature and graphic novels to kids' books – but there's art, games and regular talks and events to exercise your cultural muscles, too. 35 Rue des Petits Carreaux; petite-egypte.fr
Cult Paris fashion brand Sézane started out online, but you can see the clothes (and inhale the scent, which impeccably polished staff wander around spraying) in L'Appartement Sézane on the corner of Rue Saint-Fiacre, right on the edge of the Sentier. On Saturdays, the queue snakes all the way around the corner (though they'll feed you madeleines to take the edge off), so get there early or stop by on a weekday. Octobre Éditions – Sézane's brother brand, pour les hommes – is a short walk away on Rue d'Uzès. 1 Rue Saint Fiacre, 75002; sezane.com
Eat & drink
Frenchie rue du nil
Still as buzzy as when it opened a decade ago, Frenchie finally garnered a Michelin star for its dazzling – and dazzlingly beautiful – food this January. Halfway down the bijou Rue du Nil, this relaxed but chic bistro does things its own way, with unusual opening hours (it's not open at weekends) and a 'carte blanche' menu, where the chefs take French ingredients and techniques as a starting point for delicious and imaginative cooking. Book well in advance, and sit at the bar to get close to all the action. 5 Rue du Nil; frenchie-ruedunil.com
No one goes to Paris for a taste of America, but when the doughnuts are as good as the ones at Boneshaker, why not? With local ingredients, Parisian patisserie techniques, and a lot of love thrown into the mix, this dinky coffee and doughnut shop is the place to try out outré flavour combinations – and dish out some serious Insta envy for your salivating mates back home.
77 Rue d'Aboukir; boneshakerparis.com
With its achingly pretty, Morocco-inspired decor, Jacques' – in new(ish) and hip London export The Hoxton – brings a bit of exotica to the streets of the old textile district. The drinks have a distinctly globetrotting flavour, too, from the fleur d'oranger-scented 'Postcard from Marrakech' to 'El Mariachi', made with chilli-infused liqueur, tequila and vermouth. Not one for the faint of heart (or, let's be honest, the designated driver). If it all gets a bit much, The Hoxton hotel is also home to tastefully low-key wine bar Planche.
30-32 Rue du Sentier; thehoxton.com
Hotel des grands boulevards
A short walk from Sentier, with its entrance tucked away from busy Boulevard Poissonnière, Hôtel des Grands Boulevards is – as a great man (er, Derek Zoolander) once said – really, really, really ridiculously good-looking. Every detail of this grand old building made beautifully new has been carefully thought about, though it's such a pleasurable (not to mention fun) place to be that any accusations of design-by-Instagram-strategy don't hold up. The design ethos is probably best described as rustic and minimalist faded glamour, with bold, rich tones on the wall and sparingly used brass and marble. The overall effect is both characterful and comfortable, from the rooms to the hotel's communal areas.
Need to know
The Sentier is well served by the Metro, with a handful of stations – one of them, unsurprisingly, being Sentier – nearby.
The district’s a great starting point for exploring the Rive Droite (north of the Seine), with the hip Marais to the east, the Louvre a few minutes south and the theatres and cafés of Grands Boulevards next door.
Vueling flies from London to Paris from £52 return. vueling.com
The ground-floor restaurant is housed under a great glass roof that echoes the city's ornate covered passages, giving it an inside-out atmosphere that buzzes day and night, when it's packed out by noisy and beautiful people. More intimate, but no less pretty, is the tiny hotel bar The Shell (there's another – The Shed – on the hotel's roof). As you'd expect given Grands Boulevards is part of the Experimental Group (of the global Experimental Cocktail Club bars and several other hotels), the cocktail game is strong, though not in every sense – The Shell does a refreshingly good line in sophisticated alcohol-free drinks. That said, if you're dragging yourself and your shopping off the street for a drink or finishing the night off, something more potent might be calling.
From £200 per night based on two people sharing. 17 Boulevard Poissonnière; grandsboulevardshotel.com