Paris: Les Abbesses
Most visitors to Paris head to Montmartre, the quaint village in the 18th Arrondissement. But just a few hundred feet downhill from Sacré Coeur and its tourist schmaltz, in the Abbesses quarter, a more authentic charm is still alive. Yes, its cobblestoned streets have been slicked up by trendy boutiques, but the area once frequented by Toulouse- Lautrec, Picasso, and Raoul Dufy hasn’t completely died. Prim old ladies, jocular bistro owners, a stray drag queen—everyone knows everyone in Abbesses, and here they say hello. —Alexandra Marshall
Hôtel Particulier Montmartre: This luxe property on a tiny passageway has just five art-filled, individually designed suites and a plush little garden. 23 Ave. Junot; 33-1/53-41-81-40; hotel-particulier-montmartre.com; doubles from $540.
Miroir: Take one bite of the caramelized pork belly, served au jus with roasted root vegetables at this fêted bistro and you’ll have cartoon hearts floating over your head. 94 Rue des Martyrs; 33-1/46-06-50-73; dinner for two $77.
Café Burq: Around the corner from the touristy cafés on the Rue des Abbesses sits Burq, a rollicking spot with a bistro-with-a-twist menu (veal liver sautéed with figs; roasted Camembert with honey) and a bargain wine list. 6 Rue Burq; 33-1/42-52-81-27; dinner for two $110.
La Mascotte: The local-favorite brasserie (founded in 1889, the same year as the Moulin Rouge) dishes up some of Paris’s best fruits de mer and sole meunière. 52 Rue des Abbesses; 33-1/46-06-28-15; la-mascotte-montmartre.com; dinner for two $110.
Spree: Visiting American fashion editors can’t get enough of Spree’s mix of European and Asian labels (Isabel Marant; Maison Martin Margiela; Tsumori Chisato; Carven) casually strewn over Midcentury furniture. 16 Rue de la Vieuville; 33-1/42-23-41-40; spree.fr.
Épicerie Lion: The flowers outside this gardening store and food shop are incredibly enticing. Inside, salted caramels and boxes of calissons (chewy Provençal almond confections) beckon as well. 7 Rue des Abbesses; 33-1/46-06-64-71; epicerie-lion.fr.
Halle Saint Pierre: The collection of contemporary Art Brut and Outsider art at this fin de siècle exhibition space stands in contrast to the traditional works shown in Paris’s major museums. 2 Rue Ronsard; 33-1/42-58-72-89; hallesaintpierre.org.
Cabaret Michou: Don’t pass up a visit to the legendary drag cabaret and supper club owned by the inimitable Michou, the neighborhood's nonviolent version of Don Corleone. 80 Rue des Martyrs; 33-1/46-06-16-04; michou.com; admission from $48, including one drink.