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Chess Bar & Sacré Coeur


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Pigalle places: Unique Chess Bar & Sacré Coeur & Marché des Enfants Rouges

Published by Sophie Lawson — 4 years ago

Chess Bar

The Chess bar in Pigalle became my favourite spot the first time I went there. It is absolutely free to play, and the large tree stump and milk crate seats combined with the eclectic decor and candles on the tables create a truly unique atmosphere.

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There is an enormous variety of beer on sale, both the truly obscure and the more regular brands. All the drinks are reasonably priced and the owner/manager is extremely charming and contributes to the fun atmosphere (he will often stop by with chess tips if you look like "you're struggling", which I often did).

The people there are always friendly, often stopping in just to watch other people play, and on the weekend it draws a large young crowd with many people crowding outside.

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To go to the bathroom in this place, you will climb down through what looks like a trap door but is, in fact, a totally legitimate stair case. On one occasion, after a chess game, ran late and we began chatting with the owner we experienced some strange form of lock, in which revealed an actual trap door hidden behind a cupboard in the wall, which the staff often use to get out at night after locking up. This place is truly unique in every way and always fun, whether you pop in for 20 minutes or end up staying for hours. It's also on the fantastic street Rue des Martyrs, so you will have endless places for dinner/drinks before or after your visit to the Chess bar.

Cannot recommend this place anymore is 100% a must visit!

Sacré Coeur

I was fortunate enough to live right next to the Sacré Coeur for the second half of my year abroad in Paris. Whilst a seemingly obvious choice with potential for being overrated, the Sacré Coeur became one of my favourite spots in Paris. During the day it is a great place to go relax on the grass with a few beers. On a Sunday it is always full of people from all over the place and every time I go there are, at least, 3 different types of musicians:

  • Old strange man singing;
  • These beautiful violinists who walk up and down the steps playing;
  • And my favourite: this young group of French students who come with 3-4 guitars and play covers of all the greats.

One particularly lucky day at the Sacre Coeur me and my friend meet a fantastic man from Egypt who was a fashion designer. He approached us on the steps to discuss our style and we shortly became good friends. As a result, he gave us free drawings and recommended all the best restaurants in Paris for authentic Arabic food.

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There are all kinds of different buskers at the Sacre Coeur, from the classic painters, to footballers, magicians and dancers. One word of caution is to avoid anyone who wants to show you the "string trick", where they tie a piece of string to a watch or ring. This is a popular trick all over Paris but, particularly, at the Sacre Coeur towards night time, and will most likely result in you losing a piece of treasured jewelry as part of the "magic".

I would often take advantage of how close I was by going for a run up the stairs early in the morning, and also enjoying the truly stunning view of the Sacre Coeur lit up at night (I included some nighttime photos to show just how beautiful it is).

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So whilst an obvious choice, I would recommend not overlooking the Sacre Coeur. It's definitely a must visit!

Marché des Enfants Rouges

The oldest covered market in Paris is tucked away in the beautiful Marais arrondissement (located 39 Rue de Bretagne). It has been around since roughly 1600 and is home to arguably the best authentic Moroccan food in the whole of Paris. As you enter the beautiful wall murals and paintings help portray the quaint intimacy of the market. Whilst it is not the largest or most varied market in Paris it is the oldest and 100% worth a visit.

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The beautiful variety of fresh flowers, veg, fruit, spices and nuts is not only visually very beautiful but gives off a beautiful smell that will pull you in off the street. The prices will keep you there as everything is very reasonably priced! If the smell of the fresh products doesn't draw your attention, the aroma of the authentic fresh moroccan coffee and the seasoned hot rotisserie chickens certainly will.

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Home to the best moroccan food in Paris, the fresh and quick dishes are delicious and cheap. The market vendors are extremely friendly and really contribute to a great atmosphere at the market. Not content with simply offering stalls of food, the market is lined on both sides with mini cafe-restaurants. The colourful chairs and sun umbrellas around the cute little tables for the mini restaurants, give the market a uniquely homely vibe and are great for a sunny day.

The market is extremely easy to get to. Located just two minutes from the metro, and there are sign posts everywhere to help you get there. Tucked into the heart of the Marais district, it is easy to make a day of visiting the market. As you are only a stones throw away from great vintage shops, restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as a beautiful park right next to the market.

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Definitely worth a visit, whether for a quick walk around or more of an exploratory visit, the market is a great little slice of Paris' history.

(Photos included chronological order. Market photos are at the end).

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