Just a few hundred feet downhill from Sacré Coeur, in the Abbesse quarter, a more authentic kind of charm is still alive. Sure, its winding cobblestoned streets have been slicked up by trendy boutiques over the past 10 years (when gentrification really kicked in), but the tinny little merry-go-round in the Place des Abbesses remains the neighborhood's nucleus, and the surrounding lanes are lined with vegetable stands and open-air cafés. The spirit of the area that once house Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, and Raoul Dufy hasn't completely dies. Prim old ladies, jocular bistro owners, a stray drag queen or two - everyone knows everyone in Abbesses, and unlike in Paris's chillier, more bourgeois neighborhoods, here they say "hello."
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.