A decade ago, Pigalle was the seedy corner of Paris you would avoid at almost any cost, only passing through the fringes to visit Sacré–Cœur. But the times have changed. Pigalle is Paris’ answer to Brooklyn. The sex shops, cabaret shops and bright neon lights are still there, but this neighbourhood has shed its tough exterior and is now the right amount of edgy.
With the iconic Moulin Rouge in the heart of Pigalle, at the foot of the hills leading up to Montmarte, this quartier is now a melting point of emerging artists and chefs, trendy cafes, cool wine bars and boutique hotels.
Just like almost every corner of the globe, Paris is still tiptoeing out of the coronavirus pandemic, optimistic but wary that one misstep could see a citywide retreat back inside for weeks and months on end.
We happened to enjoy the luxury of some time in the French capital this month and dedicated some time to the northern part of the city, where Pigalle borders the ninth and eighteenth arrondissements, a place Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh once called home.
And it was here, at neighbourhood hotel Le Pigalle, where we created a home base to explore this neck of the woods.
Le Pigalle is the unassuming hotel that you didn’t know you needed until you’d spent a week traipsing around the more hectic streets of Paris. Every piece of the hotel is handpicked Nouvelle Athenes style, from the second-hand furniture to the books to the records in your room. Although it doesn’t feel that way. And that’s the point.
With forty rooms spread across five floors, you feel like you have the run of the place. It is the place to escape the pace of a city that still pulses even with an 11 pm curfew at the time of our visit.
The rooms feel more like an out-of-town hotel than something you’d come to expect from a hotel of this quality. And that’s the charm. You’ll quickly find yourself flicking through books and records, sampling the Le Labo products, before realising you are late for a dinner reservation.
While there are plenty of other great neighbourhoods to visit the next time you’re in Paris, there is nothing quite like this one. Many arrondissements blend in together, but not Pigalle.
TOP PICKS FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP IN AND AROUND THIS AREA
LUZ VERDE – Paris has most bases covered when it comes to food, but not too many when it comes to Mexican. This is one if you’re craving tacos and tequila.
HOTEL PARTICULIER Hôtel Particulier – it doesn’t get much more off-the-beaten-track than this hotel. Set in Montmarte down a cobbled laneway, behind a gate that requires a key or a friendly hotel receptionist, sits a must-visit bar if you are up for a walk on a nice night. Oh, and the hotel was once the private home of the Hermes family and has housed Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey Jnr. in recent years.
MANDOOBAR – Not quite in Pigalle but definitely within walking distance if you want to work up an appetite before dinner. This is a dumplings restaurant, but one with a Michelin star. Struggling to imagine a restaurant of its kind earning one of those? Wait until you try one or 12 inside this Korean haunt in the 8th
PARIS FLEA MARKET – Been watching Lupin on Netflix? If you haven’t, then you should. But if you have been, then you’ll recognise the Paris Flea Market from Assane Diop’s best friend’s antique store. This place is almost the size of a small suburb and has everything you could ever want for decorating your home. You just have to work out how to bring it all back with you. Thank god for the Euro Star.