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The Canal St-Martin area is one of the latest neighborhoods to become a cultural hub for up-and-coming young Parisians, offering an enriching nightlife away from the sometimes overwhelming intensity of overly hyped locations. It's a lovely residential area with a lazy charm spiced with offbeat bars, buzzy cafés, and eclectic shops. The best spots are clustered along the tree-lined canal built by Napoléon I, where barges still pass under mini-pedestrian bridges, and friends share bottles of wine along the banks. The nabe, just northeast of the Marais, is easy to get to via métro: the 3, 5, 8, 9, and 11 lines all converge at the République station.
Chez Prune was the groundbreaking establishment here, with a corner location making it perfect for people-watching. Across the canal, Hôtel du Nord is the current bar-restaurant hot ticket where you might find fashion designer Christian Lacroix or graffiti artist André. It's noirishly atmospheric, with a zinc bar and velvet curtains. Note that the food is just okay; the bar is where it's at.
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