The first time I walked through Les Halles, I fell in love with its diversity. Because it’s so central, and home to Paris’s largest transit hub, there is a constant influx of people. Every socio-economic stratum, race and culture seems to be represented. It’s the closest I’ve come to feeling like I’m back in New York City. When we moved here, it instantly felt like home.
It’s been 5 years now (of my 7 in Paris) and raising two young Parisiennes (aged 3 and 6) in this quartier may be odd to some. The nightlife is boisterous so yes, I’ve seen the nearby bars sweep out revelers at 8 am when I’m out on morning errands. During the day, it’s all tourists and professionals – most apartments in my building are offices, not homes. While the vibe can feel more Times Square than quartier familial (family neighborhood), we’ve found a real community. Our boulanger knows the kids and their favorite treats, we have playdates with other local kids, I know my neighbors and run into friends on the street.
While the kids are in school, I usually work from home. Then I race the kids to after school music, dance and judo lessons – all within a few block radius of us – or to one of our favorite playgrounds. End result: I spend the majority of my time in this quartier.
There is so much to love about Chatelet-Les Halles. It’s rich in history, music, art and culture — but beware the minefield of tourist traps. Try some of my favorite places instead.