Steeped in history, this district in eastern Paris is also one of its most lively. Its attractions range from the historic Place de la Bastille where the French revolution began and the famous Opéra Bastille, to many theaters, music venues and markets.
Bastille is conveniently situated to the east of many of Paris’ most popular attractions. It is directly connected with the Île Saint-Louis, the easternmost of the two famous islands located in the middle of the Seine, by the Pont de Sully. This bridge is located at Bastille’s western edge. The popular community of Le Marais is located directly to the west of Bastille while the Latin Quarter is situated on the other side of the Seine.
The Birthplace of the French Revolution
The centerpiece of this district is the Place de la Bastille. This square is where the Bastille, a fortress otherwise known as the Bastille Saint-Antoine, was stormed on July 14, 1789, marking the dawn of the revolution, which would continue for the next ten years. Bastille Day has been celebrated every year since, and became France’s National Day in 1880.
Not much actually remains from the actual Bastille. The foundations of one of the towers were uncovered in 1899 and have since been moved to the intersection of Quai des Célestins and Boulevard Henri IV, which is in the southwest of this neighborhood. The Place de la Bastille and Opéra Bastille are located in the place where the Bastille once stood.
This modern 2,745-seat contemporary landmark, which resides on the original location of the Bastille, plays host to some of the world’s best opera and symphonies. Many of the Paris National Opera’s performances are held here. The venue is also home to Orchestre National de France and serves as the French base for the Vienna Philharmonic. The grounds also house a 450-seat amphitheatre and a 237-seat studio. Each year, the Opéra hosts three days of free concerts beginning on Bastille Day.
Marchés Bastille, Beauveu and Aligre
A true “neighborhood market”, the outdoor Marché Aligre is open six days a week. Many Parisians make the crosstown trek to this market, famous for its explosion of produce, flowers the the boisterousness of its vendors. On weekends, the market expands to some side streets. Next door is Marché Beauveu, one of Paris’ oldest covered markets. In here the prices are slightly higher, but expect find stalls packed with French delicacies, meats, cheeses and even craft beer. Open twice a week on Boulevard Richard Lenoir, the Marché de la Bastille is one of the biggest markets in Paris, and on Saturdays it gives way to Le Marché de la Création Bastille, an arts and crafts market.
A Village of Boutiques
Located on the backside of the Bastille neighborhood, Rue de Charonne is sometimes referred to as a “village of boutiques”. Quirky independents rub shoulders with well-loved French designers, with a range of selections for various budgets on offer. You’ll find clothing boutiques for men, women and children here, as well as great gift shops and even artisanal toy stores!
Nightlife for Everyone
When it comes to nightlife, everything from grungy dive bars to some of the most exquisite jazz clubs and wine bars can be found in the Bastille. Opportunities to party the night away are concentrated on Rues du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, de la Roquette and de Charonne, but the area is chock full of unique venues that all have something for everyone. Places like Charlie, a tiny bar that offers cheap beers and leaves acoustic guitars out for its patrons, can be founded tucked in alleys and sidestreets, while the larger venues tend to line main boulevards of the Bastille.
Some of the most popular nightlife venues in Bastille currently include Le China, Le Motel, Le Mary Céleste, Le Baron Rouge, Le Truc Mush, Le Calbar and Les Furieux.
A Brilliantly Diverse Food Scene
The Bastille district’s restaurant offerings range from French to West African, Sardinian, and many others. You’ll find plenty to tickle the taste buds with everything from traditional crêperies to seafood on offer.
The World’s Most Visited Cemetery
Many suggest a guided walking tour of Père Lachais, the final resting place of Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf and Oscar Wilde, as this cemetery is so large one could easily get lost. Over 70,000 graves reside here in a 44 hectare sculpture garden first opened in 1804. Chopin, Gertrude Stein, Proust and Isadora Duncan’s graves are here too.
Bassin de l'Arsenal – beautiful gardens that link the Place de la Bastille with the Seine
Coulée verte René-Dumont – picturesque and relaxed elevated park built on a former railway line
Marché de la Bastille – popular and extensive permanent farmers market located near the monument
Cimitière du Père Lachaise - world’s most visited cemetery; home to many famous artists, musicians, writers, composers, and dancers
The most centrally located Paris Métro station within this neighborhood’s borders is Ledru-Rollin. Line 8 trains stop here and take passengers to places as varied as Les Invalides, Grands Boulevards, Cité nationale de l'histoire de l'immigration and Paris Zoological Park.
Many visitors to the area disembark at the Bastille station as this is the one closest to the Place de la Bastille and Opéra Bastille. Lines 1, 5 and 8 stop here, and remains from the Bastille can be seen by those arriving on Line 5 trains.
Those taking a Line 5 train away from here can visit the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, Europe’s largest science museum, while the Arc de Triomphe and Musée du Louvre can be visited by Line 1 passengers.
Other stations located in Bastille include Bréguet – Sabin (Line 5), Faidherbe – Chaligny (Line 8) and Quai de la Rapée (Line 5). The latter station is open air and situated northeast of and next to the Seine.
The closest RER station is the Gare de Lyon; France’s third-busiest railway station is adjacent to Bastille, just to its southeast. D line trains stop here, and many people use them to head to the Gare du Nord and connect with long-distance trains heading to the United Kingdom or Belgium.
The Gare de Lyon also serves as the Parisian terminus for the famous Paris-Marseille railway, making Bastille a great place to stay for those traveling from or to Marseille or places in between such as Dijon or Lyon. Additionally, TGV trains speed passengers from here off to cities in Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Germany as well as various communities throughout France.
Vacation rentals in the Bastille