Thursday, September 27, 2007

Batignolles:Le Dix-Sept (17th)

Le Dix-Septieme, (the 17th), is the best, undiscovered arrondissement in Paris. (This is totally biased as I have not come close to seeing every neighborhood). But it is a gem of a place and though I am hesitant to give up the secret, obviously I am going to…

The 17th arrondissement is situated on the right bank, but a bit far from the bank, which is why it’s so great to live here. Looking at the subway map you’ll find us near Place de Clichy, on the upper middle-left of the map. There are few subways you could take to get here…La Fourche, Clichy, Brochant, Rome…This is a neighborhood in the throws of gentrification...that slightly dirty word that so many people secretly love but also detest in its overall ambition. I love the mix of cultures, energy, aesthetics that the change can bring.

I am working from home these days and I have found that it’s imperative to get out and about at some point during the days to re-energize. Taking regular strolls around the neighborhood always leads to a new find and a fresh perspective. One of my favorite escapes is the exquisite little Parc de Batignolles (see little tree in a glass cage), the most delicately manicured park I have ever seen. Little stone paths, a tiny waterfall, black and white swans, and the true oddity- a brutalist-gothic sculpture of vultures that looks like it came from Ms. Haversham’s backyard (see vulture-sculpture). Another treat is the organic market (Marche des Bios) on Saturday mornings which is full of fresh, organic fruits & veggies, cheese, artisanal honey, fabrics, etc.

For the next few days the focus will be on must-see places scattered around the Le Dix-Sept (17th): Restaurants, boutiques, curiosities, etc.

Check it out: Rue Legendre
Rue Legengre cuts right through the heart of the 17th, running from the base of Montmarte to just about the tip of Parc Monceau and I thought it might make a good place to start.

anti+gravite: advanced art and design concepts (
80 rue Legendre
I had passed by the storefront of anti+gravite dozens of times before finally venturing in last Saturday (on the way to the Marche des Bios). The curious and creative window displays always captured my attention: one week it might be a few small, surreal paintings, another little fabric or metal figurines similar to Mexican ex-votos or Milagros, or another time it was displaying elaborate jewelry that looked at once to be vintage design objects and contemporary sculpture. Was it an art gallery? Design shop? What? Alas we had good timing last week when we were once again gawking in thru the windows, A, the gregarious and quirky owner invited us to have a look inside. What we learned is that anti+gravite is a store whose concept is in fact, A’s: A graphic illustrator/designer selects everything from the bakelite jewelry made by a former couture designer, the small ceramic cubes with naïve-like paintings to the NASA-like lighting fixtures whose cool hues are adjusted through a computer program in the back (think Julien Laverdiere gone design ( In the back he has a small office for his design and illustration work. Anti+gravite is a store of personal love and interest and this is why the quirky-ness works. There is no pretension and no apparent mission but to show beautiful, eccentric hand crafted objects for our viewing pleasure. Alas, the website, doesn’t really lend much information but should you be in Paris, you can stop by in person or email him for more information.

Premiata Drogheria Di Meglio
90, rue Legendre
It’s like eating in your mom’s kitchen, if your mom is Italian and always has an array of incredible pastas and antipasti laying around waiting for you to eat. The first time we walked into the Premiata, we felt like newcomers to a neighborhood BBQ. The vibe was familial with tables of families piled around talking and eating, kids playing in the back yard and everyone seeming to know the drill. Soon we were directed on course by the friendly staff and were told to order at the counter, find a seat and the food will be brought to you. After a painful decision making process, we each selected a 2-pasta combination out of a choice of 10, and a few antipasti salads, (sautéed artichokes, little noki mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted pepper). The at-home feel comes from the serve-yourself concept of pouring a pitcher of water, slicing your own bread, grabbing the parmesan (fresh chunks abound), salt/pepper, and of course help yourself to as much of the wine (delicious, Italian reds), but just remember to tell them how many you had, (this honesty policy can be embarrassing at times, particularly during a weekday when the number exceeds 2 glasses). When the pasta arrives it’s hard to explain how good it is. I forget really how amazing pasta can be when its done right. It’s not something I ate regularly. Here at the Premiata, there is always a variety available from traditional penne in a Bolognese sauce, farfalle with vegetables, spaghetti with fruits de mer. The first day we ate tiny pockets of handmade pasta that looked like candy. It was thin, fresh and stuffed with caramelized leeks and cheese. I wanted to cry. I get it every time now, so honestly I have to leave it to you to try the rest and let me know!


The Paris Apartment said...

how exciting, so glad you found me! now we'll all have to live through your experiences as my month of magic comes to an end tomorrow. i started my blog a year ago in october and had the same apprehension you did. but it's been the greatest venue i've ever known to meet wonderful friends and share ideas. good luck with yours. i'll link to you and also visit the places you wrote about before i leave!

Sarah said...

hmmm...the seventeenth? well i cannot wait to see it myself. it's the one arrondisement i don't know very well, after living in the marais and the 13th and 15th during my years as an american-in-paris. looking forward to seeing those local boutiques, too.
will post my musings on your blog, if i can gather the courage to. never done this before!?!?!

Sarah said...

oh yes and the parc de batignolles sounds great, too! sounds non touristy...