I used to live on Gemmayze street for some time. The name comes from a tree carrying the same name which actually decorates the street.
It is a charming neighborhood: it connects downtown with the famous Mar Mikhael known for bars, restaurants, coffee shops but also art galleries and local designers’ showrooms. If you continue further you will reach the legendary Armenian quarter called Bourj Hammoud.
I recommend walking Gemmayze street and starting from the side of downtown — you can enjoy your breakfast at the Frenchy Paul. The street is usually very busy, with cars stuck in traffic jam, honking and moving slowly. The buildings are kind of a mix, some old traditional Lebanese, some newer and modern. The electricity cables spread above the people rushing in both directions on the narrow sidewalks are part of the decoration.
You might hear the siren of a passing ambulance, as there is a Red Cross in one of the old villas. There is also plenty of coffee shops and small restaurants and bars. My favorites are Sip or The Coffee Room, which is actually on the St. Nicolas’ stairs, which lead you from Gemmayze to the posh residential Sursock Area, with many old-style Lebanese villas and the Sursock Museum. At the end of Gemmayze, you should definitely visit souvenir shop L’Artisan du Liban, where you can get various traditional products and support the local artisans. If you still have the energy, continue further all the way to Bourj Hammoud.