10 Things To See in Oberkampf
The 11th arrondissement is an area that is often entirely forgotten when it comes to describing the wonder that is Paris. For some this could be due to the fact that the neighborhoods of the 11th are somewhat a grey area in terms of where one ends and the next starts.
République seems to blend into Bastille, and somewhere in that mix is both the start and the end of the area known as Oberkampf; which is the point of our focus today!
Other than the Place de Bastille, the 11th doesn’t really harbor many recognizable landmarks that would make a neighborhood more well known. To experience Oberkampf you therefore have to rely on the lists and recommendations of others who have gone before you — to ensure you get the most out of your visit.
Oberkampf is another very diverse part of Paris. It is also known as the district to visit if you’re into the more alternative party scene.
It is a neighborhood that is still incredibly local and not bombarded by tourists trying to take the perfect selfie. I’ve put together a list of ten things to see should you find yourself en route to this enticing little area — read on!
1. Marché des Enfants Rouges in Oberkampf
Marché des Enfants Rouges is the oldest known market in Paris that is still in full operation. The market has been running since 1615… thats over 400 years of service. The market is situated on rue de Bretagne and is in full operation six days a week.
Here you’ll find an array of fresh produce and locally made foods. Visit to do some grocery shopping or just for a bite to eat between sightseeing.
The aromas that fill the marketplace will make it difficult to choose your favorites — if you ask nicely, some of the merchants will let you sample a bite or two here and there.
Keep an eye out for the Japanese snack bar! They sell the most delicious imported treats that are otherwise not often found outside of Japan.
I love that this market is open until 7:30pm daily, giving ample time for people with full time jobs to visit after work. Who needs shopping centers when you have the Enfants Rouges?
2. Eglise Saint-Ambroise in Oberkampf
The Eglise Saint-Ambroise is the main church attraction within the vicinity of Oberkampf. In terms of scale, it is nowhere near as grand as the Notre Dame or the Sacré-Coeur Basilica; it is, however, still incredibly beautiful.
If you are pressed for time then a walk past the church will suffice. You could even consider incorporating it into your customized walking tour in Paris.
The exterior is equally as ornate at the interior and can give a good enough idea of what the space represents. The church was completed in 1868 by an architect named Théodore Ballu.
It gained elevated status within the area in 1996 when three hundred African immigrants occupied the church in protest against their irregular immigration statuses.
The history of this space is not considered significant enough for mainstream Paris, but it is worth a second glance when in Oberkampf. If anything, go to appreciate the handiwork that went into the construction. Gawk… marvel… then leave.
3. Passage l’Homme in Oberkampf
One of those hidden gems that you’d completely miss if I didn’t tell you where to look; Passage l’Homme remains one of the best kept secrets in Oberkampf.
On rue de Charonne between a bookshop and a cafe there comes a gap in the wall where you can proceed through to enter the Passage l’Homme.
The passage is 122 meters long and although it is surrounded by some of the noisiest streets in Paris, once inside the space is entirely calm. All you can hear are the tapping of feet against the cobblestones and the occasional squeak of a window pane from the apartments above.
Residents of this magical passage put effort into maintaining a range of plant life down on the street. The ambiance of it all is something to write home about.
Paris is actually full of passages just like this, if you know where to look.
During the Middle Ages craftsmen preferred making use of the more private roads for their work as they found the main streets too chaotic. Overtime the passages became more residential and locals sought after properties here because of how peaceful and quiet the space was compared to the adjacent streets.
4. The Smoking Museum in Oberkampf
Whether you’re a smoker or not, the Smoking Museum in Oberkampf is a not to be missed attraction to anyone visiting the neighborhood. I had zero expectations coming into this space.
The concept of a museum dedicated to smoking was beyond me. But off I went and paid my €2 entrance fee. Enter: Le Musée du Fumeur.
What an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. The museums collection of century old snuff-boxes, ancient cigarettes and clay pipes dating back to the 17th century was a delight to witness.
While smoking in the actual museum is strictly prohibited, it does feature a sectioned-off lounge in which patrons can experiment with vaping.
If you’re looking to have an informative yet incredibly light afternoon, the Smoking Museum is the spot.
You’ll leave feeling a heightened sense of understanding for the human beings with whom you share the planet — and how they’ve come to love this destructive pastime so much.
5. Musée Picasso in Oberkampf
Sticking with the museum theme we head over to rue de Thorigny where the National Picasso museum is situated. This is another light museum experience, but in a very different way to the Smoking Museum.
The space is home to over 5000 official art works and tens of thousands of archived pieces.
There are Picasso themed museums all over Europe, but the Parisian one is the only one in the world to allow the visitor on a journey of the entire artistic process; from study and sketch, right through to the completed works.
The space was originally established in 1985 in the Hotel Salé but recently underwent some much needed renovations to make it more efficient for the amount of foot traffic.
If your timing is good and you visit on the first Sunday of the month you’ll have full access to the museum for absolutely free.
6. Passage Brady in Oberkampf
I adore this little treasure trove in the heart of Oberkampf! Paris… meet India!
Passage Brady is an old Parisian arcade that is still standing from 1828. One half features an ornate glass rooftop and the other side is completely open air.
This passage is sometimes referred to by locals as “little India”. In a very small space there packs an array of restaurants and merchants of Indian, Mauritian and Pakistani descent.
If you are a lover of fragrant spices and chili that packs a punch then you’ll be highly satisfied by most of the meals here. Your credit card will be satisfied too; the food is ridiculously affordable and there is almost always enough left to take home for round two.
The passage can be difficult to spot as there aren’t many signs. You’ll have to enter at either Boulevard de Strasbourg or Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin.
Be sure to leave enough time to explore the adjacent streets as this is a diverse part of Paris with much more to see.
7. Rue Dénoyez in Oberkampf
Just behind the Belville metro is a little alley way that has become semi-famous for its aesthetic appeal. The Rue Dénoyez is an alley filled wall to wall, floor to sky, with colorful street art.
The alley used to be home to a collection of boutique style shops. The area didn’t provide enough business, however, and overtime the space was left completely abandoned.
The Parisian street scene soon took over and graffiti artists from far and wide are encouraged to contribute to the walls however they please. The alley is a lot bigger than you are probably imagining.
The scale of some of the pieces is quite incredible to behold and definitely worth the walk over while in Oberkampf or any of the surrounding areas .
Nothing on this street has been left untouched. The walls, windows, sign posts, trash cans and fencing are coated in the art of individuals who have come and gone. Enter the alley via either Rue de Belleville or Rue Ramponeau.
8. La Petite Fripe in Oberkampf
Vintage stores in Oberkampf are known to come and go with the seasons. Since the area doesn’t see as much foot traffic as the more well known parts of Paris it is not easy for business to last extensive periods of time if they aren’t doing well to begin with.
La Petite Fripe is one institution that has stood the test of time in Oberkampf. It is a vintage shopping favorite amongst both Oberkampf locals and individuals from neighboring areas.
Once inside you’ll be overcome with indecisiveness — or maybe thats just me? There are rows upon rows of some of the best thrift items you’ll find in Paris. And reasonably priced too.
La Petite Fripe doesn’t stop at clothing. There is also an extensive collection of vintage telephones, sunglasses and cameras. Even a few old motorcycle helmets incase you meet a kind stranger with a Vespa on your travels — you never know.
Fine La Petite Fripe on Avenue de la République; it is open seven days a week!
9. Mizmiz in Oberkampf
I’m truly a sucker for anything weird and wonderful. It’s no surprise that I’m drawn to this very random night spot in Oberkampf.
Mizmiz is this eccentric hybrid space that doubles as a Moroccan restaurant and music venue all in one. It’s hard to say which is better; the food or the party.
You’ll want to start your evening here before the night crowd sets in. Sit down for a fragrant meal of spiced couscous and a €2 glass of house wine. As the night descends the space slowly shifts into a dance bar — the music varies depending on the day of the week.
The best thing about Mizmiz (aside from its affordability) is that it stays open until 4am. This is a lot later than most of the other venues in the area and as a result Mizmiz becomes the spot to be when there is simply no where else to go.
All in all, its an alternative night out in Paris that you wont easily forget.
10. L’Alhambra in Oberkampf
Since everything in Oberkampf seems to be slightly more alternative, my last thing to see in this lineup is a little venue known as L’Alhambra.
The space is an art-deco inspired music hall where many now-famous artists once played before they made it big; Lady Gaga amongst them.
I love that L’Alhambra only holds between 600 to 800 people, so any gig here is automatically more intimate. Whether your taste is jazz, heavy metal, chanson française or pop, you’ll find something in the lineup to tickle your fancy.
The location of the music hall is within perfect walking proximity to the Canal St-Martin. After the gig you’ll find many bustling bars in which to enjoy a drink or two before retreating to your bed.
Oberkampf, Paris. Remember the name and recall that there is much more to see here than first meets the eye.
This is a neighborhood that will both feed your soul and your budget. Being less mainstream than some of the other neighborhoods, everything in Oberkampf is a little cheaper, a little cooler and a little less predictable.
If you get the opportunity to attend a walking tour of Oberkampf — take it! An area of pleasant upon pleasant surprises.