Thanks, Valentina, for letting me write an article for your blog!
When I first moved to Paris, I lived at 69 rue de Seine 75006. During this time I also worked at The Moose, a Canadian sports bar approximately three paces away from my doorstep. I came to know the Saint-Germain-de-Pres neighborhood very well. So well, that after ten months of omnipresent tourists and over-priced grocery stores I was ready to peace out.
Even though it’s been almost a year since I’ve moved, I haunt Odeon frequently. I established my Parisian life here! These streets are my ‘hood. And when I come back, I can usually be spotted at one of the following establishments:
54 rue de Seine
Two minutes before writing this sentence I received a phone call from a friend asking if I wanted to go get some Cosi, because my crew is to Cosi as the characters of Friends are to Central Perk. This adorable soup-salad-sandwich shop always has the friendliest staff and the heavenliest bread, which is unique to Cosi and baked before your eyes in a brick oven. In addition to having fresh, delicious salads and sandwiches involving things like roasted zucchini, olive tapenade and tandoori turkey (not necessarily in the same sandwich), their Cosi nutella, which is simply hot Cosi bread dripping with nutella, makes me melt in my chair when I think about it. Even people like my father, who is simultaneously allergic to gluten and dairy and sugar and joie de vivre, adore this hole-in the wall café. Plus the prices are an oasis if you are a poor person in the sixth.
Most of the time I don’t even go there to eat. If I have work to do, I grab a coffee or pick a Mariage Frere tea and head to the upstairs tables to listen to the soft opera music, or look at the stories written on the chalkboard walls, or surf Facebook instead of studying (free Wi-Fi: a blessing and a curse). I love, love, love this place and everything that it’s owners do. Drew Harré (my old neighbor! I am so lucky) and Juan Sanchez are also the creators of my all-time favorite restaurant in the ENTIRE WORLD, conveniently located right next door to Cosi: Semilla. I am not going to write about Semilla because I do not have enough superlatives so I will leave you with this link:
2. Xin Gainian
55, rue Dauphine
One day I was waiting in front of the bus stop to go on a date and I noticed behind me an Asian-French fusion restaurant with a very interesting menu. The prices were something like 12 euros a dish, which is outrageously inexpensive given its location. I found out after meeting up with my date that he didn’t have any specific restaurant plans for dinner so we headed back to the sixth to try what I now refer to as Xin.
I quickly brought my roommate and all of our friends to Xin and it became a staple in our diet. My roommate loved the bibimbap while I religiously ordered the Tartare Coréen, which is an amazing beef tartare with Korean spies. As for my date, he is still my boyfriend a year and a half later, probably thanks to my excellent taste in restaurants. His favorite dish is the Italie Mian, a crazy concoction of penne pasta, beef and mushrooms with a raw egg yolk in a savory Korean sauce.
81, rue de Seine
Traditional French food is not exactly scarce in the sixth but finding a French restaurant where the quality matches the price can be. Pere et Filles isn’t for a student budget but it won’t kill you either and my word is the food fantastic. Their Ravioles de Royans is the best I have tasted so far, so creamy but so light! In the autumn when Paris becomes cold and rainy I like to sit in the cozy interior of the restaurant near the bookshelves and sip their onion soup (again, the best I’ve had so far in Paris). In the summer they have a great terrace where you can people-watch while devouring a yummy salad. The customers are a fun mix of cool Parisians and happy tourists and eavesdropping here becomes more and more fun as I become more and more bilingual.
4. Da Rosa
65, rue de Seine
Disclaimer: I used to work here. And if I were to go back to waitressing in Paris I would re-apply here first. The staff is composed of international foodies from Cuba, Japan, Mali and Colombia (to name a few), and the staff meals are dishes like risotto with bellota ham. To top it off, their Sangria is divine. It has strawberries in it, for heaven’s sake.
Originally an épicerie, Da Rosa’s owner José Da Rosa travelled all around Italy, Spain, Portugal and France to find the best tastes possible and bring them together in one store. Eventually he expanded it into a sort of tapas-style restaurant, where the idea is to try the items sold at the épicerie and if you like them buy them afterwards. Himalayan salt, 100% Iberian ham, manchego cheese with cherry jam, scores and scores of olives… when I was training here, It was an obligatory that I try everything because the staff had to be VERY knowledgeable in order to advise the INCREDIBLY knowledgeable foodies that frequent this restaurant. Did you know that if ham cures for over 36 months the fat becomes Omega-3 fatty acid, the kind of fat found in avocados, the kind that is good for your liver? I learned that from a customer at Da Rosa.
Check out this video and you will see the level of gourmandise that I am talking about:
5. Gérard Mulot
76, rue de Seine
Every Sunday morning my roommate and I worked the brunch shift at The Moose. Every Sunday morning I was 5 minutes late because I was picking up our breakfasts at Gérard Mulot. Yes, they are famous for their macaroons but macaroons schmacaroons their baguettes are so good its stupid. Their pain au chocolate makes me happy to be alive. And they have this… thing… that is a meringue sandwich with fresh crème chantilly filling. Just go.
6. Places to go out at Night
Okay so this entry is actually three places but as everything above is meal-oriented I wanted to name a few places where I find shelter come nightfall.
10, rue de l'Odéon
I always refer it as “The Sangria Bar” because that’s exactly what it is: you share pitchers on pitchers of inexpensive but yummy Sangria with friends. Oh, and there’s a jukebox. I love the jukebox! Who doesn’t get a kick out of a jukebox, especially when the song choices are fun? The customers are normally French 20-somethings enjoying the cheap drinks and the mellow, congenial vibe.
15 Rue Clément
Monday nights suck for many but they are the highlight of the week for musicians in the sixth! The Coolin’ AND Le Tennessee host their open mic nights. The Coolin’ is an Irish bar run by mostly English and Irish kids who are lively and fun. They’ve got your typical Guinness, Newcastle, U.K.-expat drinking nonsense but they are NOT “just another Irish pub” because they have French brews and jazz nights! I especially love when Paddy Sherlock sings. He’s a charming Irishman who flies everyone to the moon when he picks up the microphone. The Coolin’ hosts many diverse concerts and free music and provides a fun, typical club dance floor on the weekends.
12 Rue André Mazet
I know Le Tennessee because the guy who is in charge of organizing their live music lived on top of The Moose. He’s a fabulous artist named James. Back in the day he always had a Mohawk and a Fedora. Sadly, I haven’t been to Le Tennessee since my night classes started but I believe the schedule remains: Monday nights are open mic nights, Friday nights are classic rock, and the rest of the nights are either James’ band playing their own awesome songs or new groups that James has discovered. In any case, I’ve been there for every night of the week and have only had good times. The entrance to La Tennessee leads you to the bar and lounge where most of the crowd is, again, 20-something French people smoking and drinking and being French. If you prefer a chill night with friends, stay there. If you want to rock your socks off, go downstairs.