Going to Pitchfork Paris and need some advice on where to go outside of the festival? Nelson Beer is here to give you his guide to Paris.
Research into visiting a new city has come a joyful distance from the days of buying an almost-instantly out-of-date Rough Guide and strolling puzzled around new streets rotating the maps in the book as you went. For a bit we got fooled by Trip Advisor’s mad reviews. Then we asked Twitter and got helpful directions to a Hard Rock Cafe. Now though… now when we travel we ask musicians who live in the city! Who can you trust more than a musician? Maybe a rat that’s also a chef, but they’re always so damn busy…
So, this week we’re going to Pitchfork Paris and, yeah, we’ve been to Paris before. We’ve made really really great jokes about Lorde at the Louvre, we’ve smoked cos that Russian lad told Carrie everyone smokes in Paris, we’ve had Joe Dassin stuck literally forever in our broken brains on the Champs-Elysées, and we’ve scaled many stairs, going ‘lol, Amelie’ and blaming the wrong person for not getting the funicular up.
Even with all that though, there’s been a nagging doubt that maybe, just maybe, we look like tourists. We don’t want to look like tourists. We’re so much better than that. Problem literally solved though because, ahead of his performance at Pitchfork Paris, Nelson Beer has kindly taken us by the proverbial hand to show us around his town. Are we really gonna dunk pain au chocolat in our coffee? We might!
Before all that though, please soak up Nelson Beer’s latest single, ‘Modern Love’
LiS: The most important thing, in a city you don’t know well, is to make sure you don’t look like a tourist. So, what areas of Paris should we be heading to in order to avoid the crowds and hang out where the cooler people are?
NB: Making sure you don’t look like a tourist isn’t easy if you don’t speak perfect French, but you can go to Strasbourg Saint Denis have a cheap beer and cigarettes at the Reilhac, or pretty much anywhere in between the 18th and the 20th arrondissement (metro stations Lamarck Caulaincourt, Junes Joffrin, Menilmontant have many cool bars to offer. but I would avoid the rue Oberkampf where all the tourists are (go up the hill, look for a church).
Getting lost in Paris is really the best way to get away from crowds and discover the nicer places in my opinion. The art galleries in Belleville will lead you to Parc de Belleville which has a good variety of plants to look at, smell or eat.
LiS: And in the spirit of blending in and to set ourselves up for long festival days, we want to breakfast like Parisians. What should we be eating, and where should we be eating it?
NB: There are many places to eat breakfast, but it all depends on where you’re staying. I would pretty much go to any brasserie and have a tartine (with confiture) or croissant with a long coffee and fresh orange juice. They do that nicely at Le Progrès in le Marais. If you do want to feel at home, dipping your pain au chocolat in the coffee is a good path. If you’re feeling more in a hipster NYC yuppy mood, you can go get in line to have delicious pancakes at HolyBelly. They also do amazing Matcha pancakes at Seasons at the Carreau du Temple and all the waiters speak very good English.
LiS: Speaking of which, being English, and unimaginative, Paris conjures up images of croque monsieurs, lots of cheese and lots of snails. But is there something we don’t know about we should be trying to eat?
NB: I would absolutely recommend the Paris New York (PNY) burger joint. It offers the Return of the CowBoy burger. Ask for it with the vegan Beyond Meat steak which is a great technology for non-meat eaters. It is undeniably the best in town and they’re opening more restaurants across the city. Otherwise, I’d go to Jah Jah. It is in my opinion the best vegan restaurant in town and service is beautiful. There’s a Jamaican vibe: they play dub music on hi-fidelity speakers and serve deliciously good food for not a lot of money. Great vibes as well. Get the Vegan Hot Dog as a side!
LiS: To get your bearings, it’s always good to get up high. So, what’s the best building or place to take in views of the city?
NB: I would recommend Moncoeur Belleville cafe above the parc de Belleville. It doesn’t have all the tourists le Sacré Coeur has, has good prices and you still get to see the tour Eiffel, Montparnasse, what’s left of Notre Dame and the grey Parisian rooftops. You can also go visit Le Plateau which is an art space above the parc des Buttes Chaumont, then as you walk out towards the parc you’ll find a nice view. Walk through the parc to the belvédère in the centre and enjoy the view.
LiS: And while we’re up high, where might we find a good rooftop bar to watch the sunset from?
NB: Le Perchoir is that place exactly. Close to the Père Lachaise cemetery you’ll be able to enjoy ghostly cocktails to you heart’s content as the sun sets.
Nobody ever goes to the Tour Eiffel often enough.
LiS: If we were going to see just one of the big tourist attractions, which one would it be?
NB: I’d say the Tour Eiffel. Nobody ever goes to the Tour Eiffel often enough. Palais de Tokyo is a nice place to get cultured, enjoy the architecture, and the view of the Tour Eiffel. Their restaurant makes affordable food and you can watch skateboarders sweat on a sunny day. I also would go to the Sacré Coeur but on the other side of the hill, where nobody goes.
LiS: Can you recommend any stores to do some record shopping in?
NB: Techno Import has a good and vast selection of electronic music from various styles and eras. They also support local artists. If you’re looking for less sound-specific genres, head to Balades Sonores. Not the most compassionate staff, but they know their stuff.
LiS: Are there any French acts we might not know who are playing the festival that we should check out?
NB: I’d say Oklou, because she’s a real independent producer/singer/songwriter. She also has a nice lush sound, ideas of how to make visuals and is quite creative in my opinion. I wouldn’t miss her. Also, I’ll be performing there so if you want to see a French act full of chaos and deluge, please come over.
LiS: And, finally, any other tips to get the most out of Paris?
I cannot stress enough how important it is to get lost in these streets and talk to people you don’t know. I know Parisians are stereotypically arrogant but they won’t be that much if you don’t care. Walk for hours, try and find an opening to the Petite Ceinture if you want a genuine Parisian experience and let it guide you to your destiny.
Join us in Paris, looking like we know what we’re doing, and at Pitchfork Paris where we definitely know what we’re doing. The festival runs October 31st-November 2nd at Grande Halle de la Villette. Tickets are available here.