Bastille is a major part of French political history, but these days, it has evolved into a bustling area that attracts all types of visitors from history buffs, foodies, and animal lovers. When you visit this vibrant arrondissement filled with trendy cocktail bars, fantastic food markets, bobo boutiques, and theaters, you’re sure to find something to suit every taste.
In this article, we take a look at some of the symbols of Bastille to make it easy for you to explore, understand, and appreciate this complex, lively neighborhood.
The Best Places to Visit in Bastille
1. See a Show at the Opera Bastille
If there’s one place you absolutely do not want to miss during your visit to this eclectic neighborhood, it is the Bastille Opera. You can see a show in this spectacular glass and steel building in the Place de la Bastille.
Also home to the National Opera, this 3,400-seater space is an extremely important landmark for those interested in culture, art, and architecture. The theater hosts ballets and music concerts, in addition to allowing the public to watch shows at affordable prices.
There’s so much to admire here, both inside the building and out. You can also take a guided tour to discover everything there is to know about this venue. You’ll get to see the theaters as well as the backstage area with its intricate layout that is designed to produce perfect acoustic consistency. This is an amazing treat for both music and theater lovers.
2.Visit the Cinémathèque Française
For the cinephiles, you’ll have the opportunity to catch a movie at the famed Cinematheque Francaise, considered by many to be the birthplace of cinephilia. This building houses a permanent collection of some of pop culture’s most iconic props and mythical costumes that we’ve seen on the screen.
This includes costumes that were worn by stars like Vivien Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor. Here, you’ll even find the severed head of Mrs. Bates from the phenomenal movie Psycho, as well as dozens of other props.
The Cinematheque Francaise also hosts occasional retrospectives as well as showings of a wide array of cult classics. In fact, there are daily screenings of global films here, which means you’ll be able to catch a movie no matter what day you visit.
This cinema, which is run by a non-profit film organization, holds the world’s largest archives of film-related items. Enjoy a fabulous and exciting walk through the history of cinema with a visit to this wonderful venue.
3. Discover the Bars and Restaurants of Lappe Street
Next on your list of the must-do things in Bastille is the discovery of the restaurants and bars in the area. The food scene here offers you an impressively diverse selection to choose from, including traditional creperies, modern Argentinian cuisine, and much more.
In addition to the endless options available to you, this area also provides the best picks of trendy bars, jazz clubs, and upmarket wine bars for you to enjoy a relaxing drink after a long day of exploring. Visit the Moonshiner bar to sip cocktails at this secret ‘speakeasy’ bar.
Or you can head on over to the Da Vito Pizzeria which has back access to this bar so you can enjoy a pizza before stepping over to the bar for a couple of after-dinner drinks. No matter what your favorite libation is, you’ll find a bar to cater to your specific needs in this area.
4. Browse the Thrift Stores and Shops in the District
This is the perfect opportunity for you to transform your wardrobe. The French are well known for their love of fashion and style, and you’ll able to remake your own wardrobe without breaking the bank. Simply take the time to browse the boutiques and shops located on the Rue de Charonne to find the perfect additions to your wardrobe.
This decidedly trendy street will allow you to window shop to your heart’s content. Here you’ll find beautiful clothing and accessories for both men and women from some of France’s best up-and-coming designers. In these little boutiques, including Merci Boutique, which is a favorite of both tourists and Parisians alike, you’ll also find the ideal items to purchase as gifts for friends and loved ones.
Browse the home design stores, jewelry shops, artisan workshops, art bookstores, and even an old-school record shop – all of which are punctuated by cafes and sprawling terraces where you can sit down to take a breath and enjoy a cup of coffee during your shopping spree.
5. Take a Walk in Promenade Plantée
The Promenade Plantee is an above-ground promenade that is a mile-long path built in the area over a defunct railway in Paris. Its name literally means ‘planted stroll’ and the path is lined with vibrantly colorful plants and flowers.
This area, which is little-known to tourists, is the world’s first park that is built above ground. It gives visitors an interesting view of the rooftops of Paris. From here, you’ll be able to appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the architectural details.
Whether you’re alone, with a partner, or visiting with your family, the Promenade Plantee certainly makes for an extremely pleasurable walk. You’ll be able to climb up the stairway in the dedicated entrance located just a stone’s throw from the Bastille Opera house.
From there, it’s beauty all around as you stroll through the green trellises and street art. Soak in the elegance from the statues adorning the buildings that flank the path as you make your way toward the sprawling green lawn where you can stop for a relaxing picnic.
6. Spend a Day at the Parc Zoologique de Paris
Beyond the shopping, art galleries, music venues, and theaters, the zoo presents an opportunity for animal lovers to spend the day reveling in the beauty and diversity of nature. The Parc Zoo was recently opened after many years of renovations, with more importance now bring placed on conservation.
There are camouflaged areas that provide the perfect vantage point for you to observe the animals without interfering with them. The 4,000 square meter greenhouse within the Zoo grounds is a spectacular addition that all ages will absolutely love.
It offers visitors a chance to enjoy the experience of being in a tropical rainforest while viewing the thousands of animals, including giraffes, lemurs, jaguars, and even anacondas! From the big cats to some of the most endangered species of animals on the planet today, the Parc Zoologique de Paris will blow you away with the sheer variety of species there for you to see.
As you can see, there is a lot to see and do in Bastille. Whether you choose to visit one of the independent galleries that showcase photography and contemporary art or if you want to shop for high-end fashion at the best markets in France – one thing’s for sure, you won’t go wrong by choosing from among these venues, which are some of the best symbols of the Bastille neighborhood.
Use this article as your guide to this rich and storied place so you can create unique memories and make your visit here an unforgettable one.