Last Updated on September 19, 2023
With its eclectic mix of trendy bars, nightclubs and concert halls, the lively Oberkampf neighborhood in Paris is a haven for foodies and partygoers. This hip section of the 11th arrondissement boasts great under-the-radar sights, ranging from laid-back pubs and vintage clothing stores to some of the finest restaurants in the French capital. It’s also a major destination for interesting street art, and home to a new digital exhibition hall that’s brought new footfall to the area.
Tucked between the better-known hubs of Bastille and République, Oberkampf has managed to maintain a certain “hidden gem” status, affording anyone who ventures there a more local, off-the-beaten-track look at contemporary Paris life.
A Bit of Neighborhood History
Traditionally a working-class area of Paris, the neighborhood was long home to family traders and artisans, specialized in areas including metallurgy and ceramics. It forms part of the city’s old “Faubourgs”: the narrow northwestern streets that were major site of revolutionary revolt during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Related & nearby: Belleville, a Paris District Haunted by Revolutionary & Artistic History
Today, Oberkampf is mainly populated by young people, artists and students who, starting in the 2000s, came flocking to the area because of cheaper rents. In response to this influx, bars and restaurants began popping up and Oberkampf became what it is today: one of the liveliest places in the city, especially after dark.
It is therefore the ideal spot to get a true sense of how Parisians live. It’s one of the places in the capital that allows you to properly glimpse the charm and diversity the city is famous for– minus swarms of tourists blocking the view with phones and selfie sticks.
Getting There & Orientation
The Oberkampf neighborhood reaches from one corner of the sprawling Place de la République in the west to the Place de la Bastille in the east. Its main artery, Rue Oberkampf, is located between Le Marais and Ménilmontant.
Main Streets Around Oberkampf: Rue Oberkampf, Rue Saint-Maur, Avenue Parmentier, Avenue de la République, Boulevard Voltaire, Boulevard Richard Lenoir, Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud.
Getting There: The fastest way there is by Metro. Take line 5 or line 9 and get off at the Oberkampf stop. The Oberkampf station is also served by bus lines 56 and 96; and, at night, by night bus lines N01 and N02 (Noctilien bus).
Other possible metro stops are: Parmentier (line 5), Voltaire (line 9) Rue Saint-Maur (line 3) and Ménilmontant (line 2). You can also use one of the many bike / scooter sharing systems available in the city, although dense traffic makes riding in Paris quite stressful.
How to Explore on Foot: A Recommended Route
Start on the charming Rue Oberkampf, a long and narrow street lined with dozens of bistros, bars and hidden passageways, to get a feel for the area’s bohemian atmosphere. Peaceful and quiet in the daytime, it transforms into a party hub at nightfall, with a vast selection of bars and clubs where you don’t have to pay cover.
From there, get lost in the area’s maze of tiny streets, explore the many hidden passageways, head down to the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest market in Paris located on Rue de Bretagne.
Next, consider ambling over to Café Charbon, dating to the Second Empire, for a nice coffee and local pastry. Finish the day with a tour of the offbeat boutiques and delicious food shops.
Major Sites of Interest Around Oberkampf
While we always suggest roaming around and “using your nose” to find the perfect café, winding back street or local eatery for dinner, here are a few places I especially recommend in the area.
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges
Established in 1615 under the reign of Louis XIII, Le Marché des Enfants Rouges (literally the Market of the Red Children) is the oldest covered market in Paris and features food from all four corners of the world.
Not only a traditional produce market, Le Marché des Enfants Rouges is also a culinary destination for every food craving. Here you’ll find a mouth-watering sprawl of Japanese, North African and Lebanese specialties as well as numerous organic options.
Opened Tuesday through Sunday, it tends to get crowded around lunch hour, but it’s worth every minute of waiting.
L’Atelier des Lumières
This new all-digital art gallery has drawn thousands of visitors to its multimedia, blockbuster exhibits since it opened a couple of years ago. So far, it’s staged mesmerizing “multisensory” shows on Gustav Klimt and the “Secession” arts movement, the work of Vincent Van Gogh and numerous smaller exhibits.
See our complete guide to the Atelier des Lumières for more info on current and upcoming shows, how to buy tickets, and our take on why it’s far more than a digital-age gimmick.
Le Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione
- Address: 110 rue Amelot
- Metro: Oberkampf or Filles du Calvaire
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 47 00 28 81
With a new show every winter featuring an international cast of clowns, dancers, trapeze artists, acrobats and animals, Le Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione is a magical place for a memorable family outing.
Built in 1852, it is among the oldest circuses in Europe still running; it’s worth the trip if only for its exceptional design.
Sculptors and painters were commissioned to produce friezes, statues and high reliefs which can still be seen today. The venue also hosts concerts, equestrian exhibitions and fashion shows, among other magical events.
Le Nouveau Casino
- Address: 109 rue Oberkampf
- Metro: Parmentier or Ménilmontant
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 43 57 57 40
Located in the heart of Oberkampf, the Nouveau Casino is a concert hall dedicated to rock and electronic music. Opened in 2001, it has managed to make a name for itself in the buzzy Oberkampf area by showcasing new talent; lesser known alternative bands rub shoulders with big names in the alternative music scene. It doubles as a night club after concerts for those eager to party ’till dawn.
- Address: 21 rue Yves Toudic
- Metro: République or Jacques Bonsergent
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 40 20 40 25
L’Alhambra is a theater and music hall that hosts a wide range of events from one man/woman shows, concerts to cabaret-style acts. Built in 1933, the theater was rarely used and became dilapidated. It was renovated and reopened in 2005 and is now one of the most popular and beloved venue of the 11th arrondissement.
Le Musée du Fumeur
- Address: 7 rue Pache
- Metro: Voltaire
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 46 59 05 51
Le Musée du Fumeur (the Smoking Museum) contains a collection of smoking objects, including European pipes, Native American ceremonial pipes, hookahs, Chinese opium pipes, Egyptian sheeshas, snuffboxes, cigars and tobacco samples.
See related: The Best Small Museums in Paris
It also features a cabinet of photographs with portraits of famous smokers such as Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg and Che Guevara.
While it’s hardly “politically correct” these days, this small, quirky museum is worth a visit if you’re interested in the tradition and craftsmanship surrounding the practice– or just feel like exploring a lesser-known collection.
Eating, Drinking & Nightlife Spots
There are countless places in the area that beckon you in for a glass of wine, Sunday brunch, or live music set. Here are a few we recommend– but as always, let your curiosity guide you as well.
- Address: 109 rue Oberkampf
- Metro: Parmentier or Ménilmontant
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 43 57 55 13
Café Charbon has been open for more than 100 years. Founded in 1900, it has become a local institution for its vintage decor; high ceilings, tarnished mirrors and period lamps adorn this spacious spot where the wine is good and the food typically French. In the evenings, live music and Dj sets are a fixture at the Charbon.
While there, make sure to check out the constantly-changing mural on the corner of Rue Oberkampf and Rue Saint-Maur; run by nonprofit association Le M.U.R., the space has been reserved for local street artists to show their work.
Aux Deux Amis
- Address: 46 rue Oberkampf
- Metro: Oberkampf
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 58 30 38 13
Aux Deux Amis is an excellent late night spot that’s always packed to the rafters with young Parisians looking to enjoy great tapas and wines. The staff is friendly and the atmosphere cosy and warm, so if you don’t mind a little crowd, check out this Oberkampf fixture that surely won’t disappoint.
- Address: 22 rue de la Folie Méricourt
- Metro: Saint-Ambroise or Parmentier
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 58 30 98 02
With its tasty menu and pastel decor, Café Méricourt is a rare find in the bustling Oberkampf neighborhood. Located in a charming backstreet, this café / restaurant is a great stopping point for delicious specialty coffee, quality Parisian brunch or lunch.
- Address: 2bis rue Neuve Popincourt
- Metro: Parmentier ou Gare du Nord
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 43 38 12 00
At Al Taglio, pizza is sold by the weight (au poids) which means you can indulge in one slice or sample them all. The queue to access this chic yet traditional pizzeria can be a bit long but worth the wait.
Once inside, grab a high wooden stool and treat yourself to pizza that delivers every time. Try one with truffle, cream and potatoes: a purely gourmet experience.
- Address: 14 rue du Crespin du Gast
- Metro: Ménilmontant
- Tel : +33 (0) 1 48 06 18 48
Le Perchoir is a vibrant rooftop bar restaurant located on the 7th floor of an old industrial building. With its 360 views of Paris, this attractive space offers a creative cocktail and snack selection. The prices are a little steep but the spot, with its cushion-strewn benches, urban jungle-like decor and select music is the hip bar in town where throngs of young Parisians gather after work and toast the setting sun.
East Side Burger
- Address: 60 boulevard Voltaire
- Metro: Saint-Ambroise
- Tel: +33 (0) 9 67 00 78 72
This fast veggie joint serves some of the best vegetarians burgers in Paris. The menu also includes vegan quiche and vegetarian hot dogs, as well as a selection scrumptious desserts (try the cheesecake). With its indie-rock flair and easygoing feel, East Side Burgers is an original spot worth checking out.
- Address: 101 rue Amelot
- Metro: Saint-Sébastien Froissart
- Tel: +33 (0) 1 58 30 93 43
Panic Room is a lively cocktail bar that also features a small electro club in the basement. With its graffiti wall art and cool lighting system, it is a unique spot with a cocktail selection that will make your head spin.
The place is especially crowded at happy hour, when drink prices get almost slashed in half. Only later in the night does the atmosphere become electric, with local DJs and live artists playing their very best set lists.
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Paris Unlocked Contributor Patricia De Oliveira has written for various publications, including music magazines The Blue Walrus and TEEZ’FM. She lives in Paris and is currently working on her first novel.