I've gone though pages and pages of archives and I think I'm ready for some advice now that I've narrowed things down. We're looking to rent an apartment for about two weeks next year. It will be our first time so obviously we'll be hitting the usual tourist sites and maybe a day trip or two. But with that time we also want to stay in a place where we can settle a bit into the neighborhood.
As reference, when we're in Paris we always stay in the upper Marais (3rd), and have begun spending more time around Oberkampf and the Canal St Martin. In New York we always stay around the Bowery, East Village, or Greenwich Village. I'm looking for a place that ideally has many cute boutiques and independent shops, vintage clothing stores, and mid-range and ethnic restaurants, gastro-pubs, bakeries and food purveyors.
Right now I'm thinking South Kensington, Islington, Bloomsbury? Any other suggestions would be welcome as well. Thanks so much.