Artist Alexis Peskine On Where to Eat, Shop & Play In Paris

By Kym Allison Backer | November 16, 2021

Alexis Peskine, “Raft of Medusa - Bana Banalises 1” (2018). PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND OCTOBER GALLERY, LONDON

Artist Alexis Peskine breaks down his hometown’s hidden gems.

Known for his piercing photographs, videos, and unconventional mixed-media acu-paintings that often spotlight societal issues, Alexis Peskine’s (@alexispeskine) talent has taken him around the world, with exhibits and collaborations stretching from the Caribbean and the U.S. to Europe and across Africa.

After a life spent in movement, from living in Las Vegas as a child to graduating with a degree in art from the Mecca, Washington, D.C.’s Howard University, Peskine is as dedicated an activist as he is an artist, creating collaborative projects with inner-city youth around the world. But, he says, his heart—and home—remains in his native Paris, where he’s part of a thriving and widespread community of Black creatives who make their mark in everything from fashion to food.


Alexis Peskine, “Power” (2017). PHOTO COURTESY OF OCTOBER GALLERY, LONDON
Alexis Peskine, “Power” (2017). PHOTO COURTESY OF OCTOBER GALLERY, LONDON

Here, Peskine introduces us to some of his favorite places in the city’s arrondissements where he communes with his fellow creators. “Paris to me is not one place,” he says. “It’s always a different spot with different people, for different reasons. Especially Black Paris—we don’t have much agency and things change, so [the city is] always on the move.”

BEST LEISURE

I like to ride my bike or run from my hood in Issy-les-Moulineaux along the Seine River, passing the Eiffel Tower and the Palais de Tokyo and Rue de Rivoli by the Louvre because it’s exclusively for cyclists.

BEST EATS

I like to go to L’Embuscade (47 Rue de la Rochefoucauld) to eat—a Black-owned Afro-vegan restaurant and bar near Pigalle and the Moulin Rouge, where at some point people organically cut a rug. It’s aesthetically cool looking and they also make super interesting and delicious Black diaspora-inspired cocktails.

Furahaa (78 Rue Réaumur) is a Black- and deaf-owned delicious vegan burger joint working nonstop from 12 PM till 10 PM in Réaumur Sébastopol near Paris’ cool center Les Halles (where a lot of young Black people hang and shop because that’s where all the RER major lines intersect when traveling from various suburbs). They only hire deaf employees who are often, I believe, largely unemployed.

Le Faitout (23 Ave. Simon Bolivar) is owned by a Black woman doing healthy, heavy vegan dishes and burgers and juices from scratch and a really nice funny white dude making vegan cheeses from scratch as well. It’s in the cool 19th arrondissement right by the stunning Buttes-Chaumont Park, which you have to visit since it’s like Paris’ smaller Central Park.

6.jpg

Alexis Peskine, “Sequita” (2020) PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND OCTOBER GALLERY, LONDON

La Kaz French Caribbean (20 Rue des Halles) is a modest hangout for Creole tapas and has two Guadeloupean staples, bokit, a crisply fried bread reminiscent of Jamaican dumplings and Trinidadian bakes, and agoulou, used for panini-style sandwiches with various fillings. Sit outdoors when it warms up.

Mama Jackson Soul Food (12 Rue Claude Tillier), near Gare de Lyon, pays homage to African American culture and dishes up everything from fried chicken and fried mac and cheese balls to sweet potato pie.

Villa Maasai (9 Blvd. des Italiens) is a well-known spot where you can sit and eat Caribbean and African home-cooked food and have cocktails.

It’s a bit pricey but has cool decor, like zebra wallpaper. It’s spacious, visited by many celebrities, and it’s also one of the only all-night spots that’s both central and Black-owned and serving cooked food.


Alexis Peskine in his studio, Paris, 2020 PHOTO: BY SIMON GABOURG; © JONATHAN GREET
Alexis Peskine in his studio, Paris, 2020 PHOTO: BY SIMON GABOURG; © JONATHAN GREET

BEST READS

When you’ve eaten your fill, take a stroll by Présence Africaine bookstore (25 Bis Rue des Écoles) in the University of La Sorbonne neighborhood. Although most books are in French, it’s definitely a landmark worth visiting.

BEST GALLERIES

The Mariane Ibrahim gallery (18 Ave. Matignon) is the best gallery in Paris in terms of location, space, design, and diverse artist roster.

Murielle Kabile (99 Rue Alexandre Dumas) is an incredible hair artist and designer based in a beautiful atelier in the 20th who uses hair to make haute couture pieces. I’ve collaborated many times with her.


Peskine and an assistant at work gilding nail heads, October Gallery. PHOTO: BY SIMON GABOURG; © JONATHAN GREET
Peskine and an assistant at work gilding nail heads, October Gallery. PHOTO: BY SIMON GABOURG; © JONATHAN GREET

BEST THREADS

Peulh Vagabond (48 Rue Myrha) in the 18th, in the same Château Rouge African neighborhood where she grew up. She dressed Beyoncé and is super talented, affordable, and for men and women, dressy and casual cool. Her folks are Fulani and she employs lots of women in her motherland, Senegal.

On the same street as Vagabond, you’ll find Maison Château Rouge (40 Bis Rue Myrha), which collaborated with Monoprix and Jordan. Co-founder Youssouf Fofana prides himself on working with African artisans.

On the 3rd (Marais), you absolutely have to go to Laurence Airline (90 Rue des Archives); most of my clothes come from her store. Yasin Bey, [Nigerian singer] Keziah Jones, and many others are her customers. She’s French and Ivorian and her artisans are in Grand Bassam in Côte d’Ivoire.

Photography by: (Images credited above)