Rural and unusual Paris
  • 08
  • May
  • 2009

A city in the country atmosphere: that’s Paris too, because the city is actually an amalgamation of many villages around a central nucleus. For a complete change of scene, this unusual walk in “la Butte aux Cailles” area is just the ticket. Be prepared for a few surprises !  Duration: 2 – 3 h

Don a comfortable pair of walking shoes, because the narrow paved street are quite steep. This is a fascinating walk even in winter; la Butte aux Cailles has a timeless charm and authenticity which gives you a different take on Paris. Start at the Porte d’ Italie metro station in the 13th Arr. ; leave the station by “August Blanqui” exit. The green-painted railings intertwine like lianas, as if to underline the rural character of this walk. They are the work of Hector Guimard, a champion of the art nouveau, who embellished most of Paris’ metro stations.

Walk across the square tot the Rue Bobillot, turn right into the Rue Paulin Méry and follow Rue Gérard: you are now in the heart of “la Butte”. There is a big contrast between the hustle of the Place and the tranquility of these  narrow streets.

The Rue Jonas on the right, leads to the Rue des Cinq-Diamants, further along on the right you’ll find Passage Barrault, a  narrow street lined with charming little houses. In the rue Barrault is a group of houses known as ” La Petite Russie”, they were built in the 20′s by a taxi company whose drivers were mainly Russian exiles. On the ground floor is a garage, upstairs the family’s living accomodation. Nowadays you need to be pretty comfortable off to afford one of these little houses with a garage – a rare luxury in Paris.

Turn right into Rue Daviel. Welcome to “La petite Alsace”, a cluster of some forty half-timbered houses built around a gardened courtyard in 1913. Next to it is the Villa Daviel, a charming cul-de-sac with brick houses, each with a small front garden. Cross over the Rue Barrault and walk down Rue Michal, another street lined with “dolls” houses osme in pure art-deco style. Walk up Rue de  l’Espérance to the Place de la Commune de Paris with its cast-iran fountain Wallace ( drinking water flows from it) .

Follow the Rue de la Butte aux Cailles to the Place Paul Verlaine. The art-nouveau buildings on the side of the square is one of the first swimmingpools to be built in Paris. The decoration outside but also inside has been preserved. At the end of the road cross the Rue Bobillot, follow the Rue Vandrezanne ant then the Passage. Where Rue du Moulin des Près crosses the Rue de Tolbiac on the right you see the Square des Peupliers, a triangle surrounded with small houses and gardens.

If you still have the energy return to Place d’Italie and go for a stroll in the largest Chinatown in Europe, between Av de Choisy an Av d’Ivry, home not only to Chinese but also to people from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, etc. Parisians come here for the countless Asian restaurants and exotic product on sale at the large Tang Frères supermarket.


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