Paris’ 16th arrondissement has to be one of the most overlooked areas in the city - partly because it is tucked away in the west corner of town, and partly because it has a reputation for snobbery. It’s true that its inhabitants are moneyed: You just have to look at the posh cars, chic art-nouveau apartment blocks and designer-suited locals carrying luxury shopping bags to understand that. But this is also one the city’s most authentic areas – especially around Passy where, off the beaten tourist track, you’ll find luscious eateries, cools cafés, and atmospheric old village lanes.
Start on rue de l’Annonciation, a cute and cobbled pedestrian street - home to Aux Merveilleux de Fred
(n° 29; 01 45 20 13 82). If you’re into meringue, this patissier might just be your idea of heaven: Merveilleux are gigantic meringues layered with cream and chocolate, rolled in white and dark chocolate flakes. Next head to the corner of rue Bois le Vent, where Passy’s colourful covered market
(Tue-Sun) is perfect for filling up a picnic basket.
If you fancy a spot of shopping, head along rue de Passy to Franck & Fils
, a rather exclusive department store (80 rue de Passy; www.francketfils.fr). Or get cultural at the bottom of Passy’s hillside at the Musée du Vin
, where you can go wine-tasting after your visit. The museum is also a reminder that for centuries, Passy was (like Montmartre and Belleville) a wine-growing area. Louis XIII even used to stop off for a drink here on his way home from hunting in the Bois de Boulogne.
If you’re into literature, head back up the hill to visit the Maison de Balzac
, the house where Honoré de Balzac wrote his enlightened Comedie Humaine (1840-1847), while dodging tax collectors. Then end your tour by paying tribute to three of history’s most famous composers - Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré and George Mandel – who are buried in the charming Cimétière de Passy
(Place du Trocadéro) - a peaceful place to stroll after a busy day.