A parked car at Sedanstrasse in Munich.

Hood love: French Quarter

Live and let live

The so called French Quarter as a part of Haidhausen is perhaps Munich’s most liberal district. Veteran leftist thinkers live here among progressive gallery ventures. It is a place where people appreciate quality without feeling the need to show off about it – and a neighbourhood that never fails to surprise.

The thought might hit you: this could easily be Paris. You can see rows of trees symmetrically framing the square, neatly mown grass, colourful flower beds bordering greens to the east and west and a fountain burbling in the middle – all against a backdrop of historic buildings painted in pink, yellow and dusty blue. Is this the Place des Vosges? No, it’s actually Bordeauxplatz in Haidhausen – not as glamorous as Paris nor as ornate as Bordeaux itself, but cosier, quieter, more unpretentious.

Although the square boasts better views and more space than most other places in this east Munich district, it is rather puny compared to its brothers in France’s metropolises – and that is precisely why it fits in so well here. After all, Haidhausen is compact, described by some as a village within the city. It’s a populous neighbourhood of narrow, densely built-up streets, periodically interrupted by a circular plaza where a central fountain takes the spotlight: Weissenburger Platz, Pariser Platz, Orleansplatz.

Known as the French Quarter – which is no surprise given the number of French city and regional names that appear on its street signs, such as Sedan, Balan, Lothringen and Belfort. These names were not chosen to mark a great friendship with a near neighbour – on the contrary in fact. They commemorate events such as the devastating blow that the German army dealt French forces in Sedan during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/71, for example, and the defeat of a counter-attack by Germany’s former arch-enemy in Balan.

Haidhausen is compact, described by some as a village within the city. It’s a populous neighbourhood of narrow, densely built-up streets, periodically interrupted by a circular plaza where a central fountain takes the spotlight.

That’s how these streets were named back when Haidhausen started to transform from a slum to a working class neighbourhood from 1870 – in honour of the many victories of the powerful German army. Of course these days, there is no trace of cannons, blood or national pageantry to be found on Sedanstrasse, where people come to shop and dine.

Video: Neighbourhood Haidhausen

1260 Grad is a ceramic workshop and boutique offering handmade porcelain and wonderfully simple stoneware, while the Rosenkavalier florist a little further along the street sells elaborate floral arrangements and bouquets for romantics and enthusiasts. Shops like these can be found all around this area: little craft businesses that devote a huge amount of time and care to the details of what they sell. This approach comes at a cost – though the locals here can afford it. Haidhausen’s slum days are long in the past, and the neighbourhood is now mainly inhabited by the very wealthy.

What’s strange is that it doesn’t really feel like a fancy neighbourhood when you stroll through it: there’s nothing ostentatious or overblown, and nothing feels excessive. There is an air of alternative culture in the ambience here, though not the type characterised by partying punks and exuberant Bohemian art. In fact, what you might think of as “cool” is noticeably absent. Instead, an old-fashioned type of sustainability prevails here: fair-trade products, small shops, no chain stores, and a peaceful lifestyle.

Haidhausen really does seem more like a village. People greet each other on the streets, regularly visit specialist shops run by people who are passionate about their work, get together in inns, and believe in quality and a cosy atmosphere. They can find just what they seek at Café im Hinterhof, also on Sedanstrasse. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the Paris establishments frequented by the Expressionists in the 1920s, and it serves simple and unpretentious food to patrons wearing natural fabrics and muted tones, enjoying the terrace surrounded by greenery. Nobody in Haidhausen is interested in being fashion forward – but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time here.

In fact, what you might think of as “cool” is noticeably absent. Instead, an old-fashioned type of sustainability prevails here: fair-trade products, small shops, no chain stores, and a peaceful lifestyle.

There are a lot of bars in this district. With just three tables, Barroom on Milchstrasse is Munich’s smallest bar, and you can expect a very personal service there, including a drinks recommendation tailored to your mood and preferences. Rum cocktails are a house speciality. The Maria Passagne, just around the corner, is similarly intimate though a little more spacious. This cosy, red-walled cave of a place serves various sushi dishes to accompany your drink – totally out of the ordinary for a bar in Germany, but it’s actually a clever idea. A generous bite of fish just paves the way for another strong drink, after all. The Maria Passagne is a great place for drinking late in to the night, and before you get there you could enjoy an excellent evening meal in the Polka on Pariser Platz. This restaurant serves Bavarian, Tyrolean and South Tyrolean meals, with a Mediterranean twist which counters their inherent stodginess – all without any pretentiousness or ceremony, of course. After all, we are in Haidhausen.

If dinner leaves you unwilling to wander far for your evening drinks, you can actually just go downstairs into the cellar at the Polka, where DJs and bartenders will help you extend your evening in the best possible way. You can get the night going with beer or spirits and mixers, soundtracked by soul, disco or whatever the DJ of the moment favours. The next day – after you’ve sobered up and your hangover has abated – why not pay a visit to the Lothringer 13 gallery to take in some contemporary art? Beyond the big museums. Quieter, more private and often more experimental than the bustling Kunstareal. It’s a hidden gem, like so many things in Haidhausen, but easy to find – and another reason to stay longer in this village in the city.

 

 

Text: Nansen & Piccard; Photos: Sigi Müller, Frank Stolle, Redline Enterprises; Video: Redline Enterprises

Covid-19: current regulations

Hotels and accommodation establishments, shops, indoor and outdoor catering, and also clubs and discos are open. However, restrictions apply. All other important information on the coronavirus and your stay in Munich can be found here.

People at the Siegestor in Munich

A district full of life and adventure

Maxvorstadt is a bustling district: education, culture and business meet a colourful urban offering.

Maxvorstadt is a bustling district: universities, cultural temples and business meet small cafés, bars, restaurants and colourful shops.

Weissenburger Platz in Munich photographed from above with a drone.

A village in the city

Haidhausen and Au have developed from working-class quarters into popular residential areas.

When strolling along the narrow streets of the districts Haidhausen and Au with small shops and green courtyards, it almost feels like being in a village in the middle of the city.

The Academy of Fine Arts in Munich in autumn.

From artists and writers

Around 1900, it was the artists and writers who settled around the university and the art academy and shaped the spirit of Schwabing.

In the heyday of the Schwabinger Bohème around 1900, it was the artists and writers who settled around the university and the art academy and shaped the spirit of Schwabing.

Towers ot the St Luke's Church in Munich photographed from the air.

A beautiful spot

Lehel is considered one of Munich's most popular and exclusive residential areas. But it wasn't always the case.

Lehel is considered one of Munich's most popular and exclusive residential areas. But it wasn't always the case.

Nymphenburg Palace in Munich photographed from above with a drone.

Around Nymphenburg Palace

Neuhausen-Nymphenburg offers a wealth of things to discover besides the palace.

In addition to the palace, Neuhausen-Nymphenburg also has the Botanical Garden, numerous museums and the vibrant neighbourhood of Neuhausen with its vibrant shopping and café scene.

The Hans-Mielich-Strasse in the district Untergiesing in Munich

A district full of variety

Giesing may be famous for soccer and beer, but what the locals value most is the neighbourhood’s lively diversity.

Giesing may be famous for soccer and beer, but what the locals value most is the neighbourhood’s lively diversity of architecture, culture, and people.

Flowerbed at Gärtnerplatz in Munich.

Where the night begins

Independent labels, hip bars, pubs and cool inns attract the young and the young-at-heart.

The Gärtnerplatz and Glockenbach neighbourhoods are known as trendy quarters. Their independent labels, hip bars, pubs, cool inns and calm backyards attract the young and the young-at-heart.

Panoramic view of Karlsplatz / Stachus in Munich with the Frauenkirche in the background photographed from the air.

Classical and curiosities

Numerous Munich stories can be told along the roughly one-kilometer-long route between Karlsplatz-Stachus and Marienplatz square. A city walk.

Numerous interesting Munich stories can be told along the roughly one-kilometer-long route between Karlsplatz-Stachus and Marienplatz square. A city walk.

Maximilianeum in Munich at sunset.

Once a village, now a noble district

The Bogenhausen district in the northeast of Munich captivates with many green areas, old villas and its proximity to the river Isar.

There's a lot to discover here: the Bogenhausen district in the northeast of Munich captivates with many green areas, old villas and its proximity to the river Isar.

Tower of the Deutsches Museum with the river isar in the background photographed from the air.

Between the Isar and the Theresienwiese

The Isar river, clubbing, Oktoberfest or multicultural mix at the main station: On a voyage of discovery in a versatile district of the city

The Isar river, clubbing, Oktoberfest or multicultural mix at the main station: On a voyage of discovery in a versatile district of the city

Panoramic view of the Olmpic Park with Olympic Tower, Olympic Swimming Hall, Olympic Lake and the headquarter of BMW in Munich in the background.

Masterpieces of architecture and entertainment

BMW Welt, Allianz Arena and Olympic Park - Munich's north has much to offer.

With the Olympiapark, BMW Welt and Allianz Arena and the city's oldest church, the north of Munich has a lot to offer.

A group of humans is tasting Baklava in front of a vitrine in a shop in the station district in Munich.

Many cultures, one neighborhood

The charm of the oriental Bajuvaric microcosm in the quarter to the south of the main train station gives you that holiday feeling.

The aroma of mocha and black tea fills the air: the charm of the oriental Bajuvaric microcosm in the quarter to the south of the main train station gives you that holiday feeling.

Munich Card & City Pass

Discover Munich in a relaxed and uncomplicated way: discounts for the diverse range of art, culture and leisure activities with our guest cards.

Public transport is included

Many discounts with the Card, many things for free with the Pass.

Online or at the tourist information offices

Small meeting room of the Neues Rathaus in Munich

Exclusive tour through the town hall

Explore the Neue Rathaus on Marienplatz with an official City of Munich tour guide. A visit of the famous law library is also included!

Book now from 18 €

Magistrates, Monachia and magnificent celebrations: explore the Neue Rathaus on Marienplatz with an official City of Munich tour guide. A visit of the famous law library is also included!

Stage and audience of the Passionsspiel in Oberammergau.

The game of suffering, death and resurrection

The inhabitants of Oberammergau staging probably the world's most successful and largest amateur play. Buy your Tickets here.

The inhabitants of Oberammergau have staged what is today probably the world's most successful and largest amateur play. Buy your Tickets here.

Merchant with dried fruit on the Viktualienmarkt in Munich.

Viktualienmarkt Tasting Tour

Discover the most delicious delicacies of the city and learn all kinds of interesting facts about Munich's most famous food market.

Book now for 32 €!

Discover the most delicious delicacies of the city and learn all kinds of interesting historical facts about Munich's most famous food market.

Panoramic view of the Neues Rathaus in Munich with the Frauenkirche in the background.

Visit to the Town Hall Balcony

Join us on the famous balcony of the New Town Hall, where FC Bayern has celebrated a triumph many times - and enjoy the beautiful view over Marienplatz.

Book now for only 6 €!

Join us on the famous balcony of the New Town Hall, where FC Bayern has celebrated a triumph many times - and enjoy the beautiful view over Marienplatz.