Living in the neighborhood for more than 8 years now, I've witnessed firsthand how the area has profoundly changed over the last few years, going from a relatively quiet and rather undesirable residential area to the hipster haven and bobo playground it is today.
Nothing wrong with that - gentrification can have its good sides, bringing cool concept stores, trendy coffee shops (Hollybelly, Pouch) and wine bars (Le Verre Volé), fancy restaurants, and artisanal specialties (du Pain et des Idées) to this once overlooked part of Paris. Now, flocks of cool kids gather along the Canal Saint-Martin at the first signs of spring, sitting along the water and soaking up sunlight for spontaneous apéros or picnics. The crowded terraces that lead from the Hotel du Nord to the Bar de la Marine on the other side of the canal give the area a permanently festive vibe.
Perhaps not as hip as the neighborhood's newcomers, I tend to avoid the crowded, hype places generally referred to as branché. Instead, I prefer spending time in quiet gardens, enjoying an apéro with friends in a somewhat secret bar (Café A), or strolling along the upper part of the canal, heading north towards La Villette.
I also love the multicultural side of my neighborhood. Residents come from all corners of the globe, meaning you can meet some interesting people and find virtually any type of world cuisine. With African, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, Cambodian, Japanese, and, of course, French restaurants, you can go on an international culinary journey right in the heart of Paris.