South of Rue de Tolbiac the shop signs suddenly turn Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian, spices fill the air and even McDonald's is decked out à la chinoise. Welcome to the city’s main Chinatown (Quartier Chinois): set amid 1960s tower blocks in the triangle formed by Avenue d’Ivry, Avenue de Choisy and Boulevard Masséna, this is where you’ll find exotic groceries, Vietnamese Pho noodle bars, hairdressers and Chinese patisseries, along with the huge Tang Frères supermarket (48 ave d’Ivry, 13th), which sells everything from dim sum and fresh spices to ready-made sauces and rice-cooking machines. There’s even a Buddhist temple hidden in a car park under the tallest tower (Avenue d’Ivry, opposite rue Frères d’Astier-de-la-Vigerie, 13th).
The Olympiades shopping centre (44 ave d’Ivry, 13th) is the meeting point for many of Paris’s Asian communities. Head to the middle floor and you’ll find shops hawking fabulous tat from Buddha effigies to Thai pop CDs; in the evening, the car park hosts an oriental market, its tables laden with spices and roasted duck.
Come particularly for Chinese New Year, when the streets fill with lion and dragon dances, and lively martial arts demonstrations. Come any time for the food, which is fabulous – see our guide below.