Recently I had a day to peruse the 9th Arrondissement. A lesser-known area of Paris, the 9th has heated up as of late. Cool new restaurants seem to open every day, and chic yet well-priced hotels have been popping up. Surely this is an area to sample on your next trip to the City of Light.
The Hotel Banke, owned by the Barcelona-based Clos family, opened last year in a former HSBC bank. With decor you might call eclectic modern meets boudoir, the lobby is smashing, if a bit audacious, with a massive golden sofa and a hipper-than-thou bar. When I visited, in the early afternoon, the bar hadn’t heated up yet, but I was quite impressed with the rooms and the reasonable prices (beginning in the low 200 euros range). They have a small spa and exercise room and are walking distance to the Opéra and the grands magasins (Galeries Lafayette and Printemps). The unique thing about this hotel is the art collection displayed on most floors. The collection belongs to the Clos family, who also own the Egyptian Museum in Barcelona, one of the largest privately owned museums in Spain.
Around the corner, and still in the 9th Arrondissement, is the Hôtel Jules, an equally stylish yet more understated place to rest your head. This boutique hotel is smartly decorated, with small- to medium-size rooms that are quite reasonable, many under 200 euros. The Jules is located close to the St. Georges area, Notre Dame de Lorette and Gare de l’Est (if you’re popping over from Switzerland or Germany). Request something in the back or on a higher floor if you want a quieter room.
If you are looking for classic luxury in a historic setting, try the ever-beautiful Le Grand, home of the famous Café de la Paix (one of our faves). If you need a budget option in the 9th Arrondissement, try the Hotel Villathena.
Without blushing, if you are visiting the 9th Arrondissement, I’d advise you to take a do-it-yourself Girls’ Guide trip of the 9th and 18th quartiers, Pigalle and Montmartre. (OK, clearly we are biased.) Wander into the Musée de la Vie Romantique and imagine what life was like during the 1800s in Paris, the age of the Romantic movement and George Sand (the female writer who had to use a male name to get published). She often stayed at this home, which is now the museum. During the summer their garden café is an oasis.
Musée Gustave Moreau profiles the painter from the same era. This museum, located in Moreau’s former home and studio, is also a stop of interest. The Théâtre Saint-Georges offers comedies and dramas (in French).
Of course, triping the great Opéra national de Paris, built by Charles Garnier and Napoleon III, is a treat. Seeing a performance there, be it ballet or opera, is the experience of a lifetime.
You’ve got fabulous and growing choices in the 9th Arrondissement. For homemade bistro cuisine, Casa Olympe is a find near St. Georges; Madame Olympe Versini is one of the better female chefs in town. The atmosphere is homey and welcoming. Fuxia, on rue des Martyrs, is an Italian eatery perfect for an antipasto lunch; you’ll find several locations around town. Of course, Rose Bakery has been on rue des Martyrs for years and is THE place to see and be seen while munching on the best brunch in town. Rose is the English chef who melted Parisians’ hearts with her homemade scones.
Not far away is the new wine bar and hot foodie spot Saturne, which technically is in the 1st, but who’s counting. This is one of the best meals I’ve had in recent memory. And let’s not forget about L’Office, which also is getting fantastic reviews.
Naturally, shopping is an important part of the 9th (you are in Paris, after all), especially if you are a department store kind of gal. Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, Sephora and a gorgeous new Apple Store dot the streetscape alongside smaller boutiques. This is a good spot during the annual sales in January and July, but be sure to hit these stores early, as they get crowded at the holidays and the sales. Lunch at the Brasserie Printemps for a view of the spectacular cupola.
The cupola of the Brasserie Printemps, courtesy of a Girls’ Guide Fan.
Oh, and then there are the passages, some of which fall in the 2nd, some in the 9th, but all are unique and worth exploring. These were Paris’s first covered shopping centers, to allow the 19th-century Parisian lady to be protected from rain and the filth of the street while shopping for her latest costume. Read my post about the passages, which includes my favorites for shopping, tea and more. Many of the best passages are part of the Pigalle and Montmartre walking trip.
No, you won’t get tired of exploring the 9th Arrondissement. Bordering the terribly hip 10 Arrondissement to the east (including Canal St.-Martin and its übertrendy eateries and galleries), the romantic and perfectly adorable Montmartre to the north, and the 2nd and Montorgueil to the south, the 9th is perfectly positioned to be the new hot spot for your next visit to Paris.
To learn more about the 9th, read about the Nouvelle Athènes area and the Romantic era.
Musée de la Vie Romantique
Musée Gustave Moreau
Opéra national de Paris
Editor’s note: If you are booking a trip to Paris, use our handy Book It guide. You’ll find fabulous hotels, trips, classes and apartment rentals.