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Clichy-Batignolles

Conventional wisdom holds that Parisian arrondissements each have a distinct DNA, personality and tribal culture. Enter Batignolles, a long forgotten quadrant of the 17th arrondissement, today mutating at the speed of light. Old and new, bourgeois traditional and bobo hip, dilapidated fringes and spanking new, sustainably developed heart, Clichy-Batignolles has them all, making it an obvious choice for a day spent exploring different Parisian lifestyles.

Genteel and bourgeois to the south, Clichy-Batignolles gets progressively more populaire as one heads north towards St Ouen flea market and the gritty Périphérique ring road. Many would describe these areas as having "character" and "edginess" in spades but the truth is they will not be to everyone's taste. Plan accordingly.

Popular with locals, Square des Batignolles with its lovely 19th century English gardens and village square atmosphere is great for people watching (Dose, 82 Place Dr Félix Lobligeois being the headquarters of choice for coffee addicts).

With close to 50 hectares in development, the emerging Clichy-Batignolles Eco-District is one of the city's most ambitious infrastructure projects. Once the cranes move out, swathes of abandoned train-yard will have been transformed into a humming hub of sustainably developed, ecologically focused homes, offices, shops and restaurants centring around two key features: the serene spaces of the Martin Luther King Park and the (frankly foreboding) Hulk-like slabs of the new 160-metre Palais de Justice tower (ironically touted as Paris' first "green" high-rise).

Running roughly parallel to each other, Rue Legendre and Rue des Dames are two primo arteries of Parisian cool. With hipster restaurants, boutiques and galleries popping up faster than mushrooms after the rain, the area is excellent for shopping and bobo-watching (the bobo being a home-grown hybrid breed of bohemian/bourgeois hipster, an oxymoron if ever there was one but that's the Parisian for you).

Some addresses of note: Intaglio, 55 Rue des Batignolles (chic stationery), Aleth Vignon, 8 Rue Lemercier and Mobil Home, 108 Rue Legendre (home decor), Cuisse de Grenouille, 71 Place du Dr Félix Lobligeois (clothes), All Access, 7 Rue Brochant (rare record memorabilia), l'Ebeniste du Vin, 76 Rue Boursault (under-the-radar wines from small vineyards) and SPB Batignolles, (an Eldorado for beer lovers). As for restaurants, see below.

In tune with the neighbourhood's ecological focus, Marché des Batignolles is the city's largest organic farmers market (27-48 Avenue des Batignolles; every Saturday from 9-15h). Foodies will also enjoy a stroll along the food shops of pedestrian Rue Levis (special mention: La Meringaie, 21 Rue Levis, a meringue-centric pâtisserie and Emile et Jules, 18 Rue de la Terrasse, a family-owned field-to-table bakery, selling rustic breads made from flours milled on the family farm outside Paris).

Squeezed between two of the neighbourhoods noisiest thoroughfares, the once working-class district of Epinettes conceals verdant spaces and quaint passageways. Chief among them is Cité des Fleurs an enchantingly bucolic private road, unchanged since the mid-19th century (only accessible during weekday working hours). Nearby, the spire of St Michel de Batignolles hides a treasure in plain sight: one of only three copies of Emmanuel Frémiet's iconic St Michel Slaying the Dragon. The location of the other two? The Musée d'Orsay and (did you guess?) the summit of the Mont St Michel.

On the wrong side of the no-man's Périperique ring road, St Ouen flea market (Marché aux Puces St Ouen) is not in Clichy-Batignolles proper but quite easily accessible from it. The fleas packed up and left a very, very long time ago and you are more likely to come across a unicorn than a bargain-priced, undiscovered masterpiece but Europe's largest flea market (actually 14 different speciality markets) is still a fun place to explore. Dodgy characters and excruciatingly schlocky/fake offerings abound on the approach to the market but these gradually give way to increasingly upmarket, classy and expensive stalls the further in you wade (the swankiest offerings being found at Paul Bert-Serpette market, a place where credit cards are almost guaranteed to get a thorough rinsing. Best time to visit: slow Mondays when the weekend crowds have left and dealers are more willing to bargain.

Addresses

To Stay

Villa Montabord, Cité des Fleurs, 75017- Bang in the middle of the gorgeous Cité des Fleurs, an immaculately elegant and quintessentially Parisian four-bedroomed bed and breakfast hideaway.

To Eat

  • Coretta, 151Bis Rue Cardinet, 75017- Next to the entrance to the Martin Luther King park, an airy, bi-level space offering spot on modern bistronomic cuisine.
  • L'Envie du Jour, 106 Rue Nollet, 75017- A pocket-sized bistronomic address with market-du-jour seasonal produce and delicious, daily changing menus.
  • Le 975, 25 Rue Guy Môquet, 75017- A tiny eaterie offering excellent value fusion cuisine in a convivial ambience.
  • Gare au Gorille, 68 Rue des Dames, 75017- A pared down neo-bistro serving creative, impeccably executed contemporary food (just ignore the awful acoustics).
  • Mamma Primi, 71 Rue des Dames, 75017 (no reservations)- An atmospheric trattoria with most ingredients sourced directly from small Italian producers.
  • Acide Macaron, 24 Rue des Moines, 75017- Very good salon de thé offering an unusual range of psychedelic-coloured macarons.

If you have been pounding the passageways of the St Ouen flea market, some spots for taking the weight off your feet:

  • Le Ripailleur, 9 Rue du Dr Bauer ✆ (0)9 83046850 (best for food).
  • Une Affaire de Famille, 59 Rue des Rosiers.
  • In nice weather, the terrace of Mob, 4-6 Rue Gambetta, Philippe Stark's latest hotel/restaurant outpost.