Tag Archives: Belleville

Walking Around Belleville

I spent a lovely day last week wandering around the Belleville neighborhood, which felt like a world away from the eighth. Back in the mid-19th century, Baron Haussmann’s makeover of Paris left many slum residents homeless. Throngs of these displaced people fled to Belleville, and today the area is home to many working-class people of all ethnic backgrounds. This is the place to look for those exotic ingredients or spicy peppers, or for authentic ethnic restaurants. Belleville also offers beautiful vistas of Paris without the crowds and tacky souvenir shops surrounding Sacre Coeur.

My first stop was Parc de Belleville. This relatively new park (I think it was opened in 1988) is built into a hillside and is a series of shady paths traversing the hill and stairs going up and down. It was serene on that late morning, with only a few people occupying shady benches and a small group of sun-worshippers having lunch in an open yard. IMG_2397 IMG_2395 IMG_2399 The park was nestled right up against apartment buildings, whose residents no doubt enjoy the view as well as the prime picnic opportunities. IMG_2398 IMG_2400 IMG_2401 And the view!! IMG_2402 Just outside a park exit was this inviting little cafe with a shady terrace. IMG_2407 I took a seat at one of the colorful tables and ordered the cheese and tomato tart. IMG_2403 IMG_2404 And then this happened. Don’t judge. I was climbing hills. I needed my strength. IMG_2405 Just across the street was this adorable building anchored by a boulangerie. I fantasized about living on the top floor. Yes, I would have been able to touch both sides of the apartment at the same time, and my bed would have to be placed diagonally. But I could rig a basket onto a rope pulley and send my money down and then pull a warm baguette or croissant back up through my window! And then I could eat them while admiring my view of the Eiffel Tower. How sweet would that be? IMG_2406 After that lunch, I had some walking to do. IMG_2409 IMG_2410 IMG_2413 I walked a long way up Rue Gambetta, which begins with this gorgeous Art Deco metro station. IMG_2414 IMG_2415 This street borders one side of the Pere Lachaise cemetery and offers a beautiful shady walk. IMG_2416 IMG_2396 IMG_2417 IMG_2419 IMG_2420 The street is also home to many elementary schools like this one. Each has a marble plaque commemorating the Jewish children who were removed from the schools and taken to camps with the cooperation of the Vichy government. It is difficult to visualize those scenes, how terrified and confused those poor children had to have been. IMG_2418 IMG_2424 IMG_2425 IMG_2427 I did not go to Place Sainte-Marthe on this trip to Belleville, but one of our very favorite restaurants is found there, Le Galopin. It’s well worth a trip off the beaten path the next time you are in Paris.

Thanks for visiting!

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Filed under Belleville, Le Galopin, Paris, Paris dining

Le Marche de Belleville

Last fall I spent a little time exploring the part of Paris known as Belleville, sandwiched between the 10th, 11th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements.  Belleville has traditionally been a working class neighborhood, and is a melting pot of immigrants.  The energy level was significantly elevated from that of the refined, and much less colorful, 8th, where I live.  I loved browsing the Belleville market, which was a totally different shopping experience from the President Wilson market.  In addition to the fruits and vegetables, cheeses, meats, and fish that are sold at every market, the Belleville market included fabrics, lots of peppers (not hot enough for my taste, but still..), shoes, socks, head scarves, and various household items such as combs, cleaners, underwear, and toiletries.  It was kind of like a traditional French market meets Wal-Mart or the Dollar Store.  The Belleville market was also much noisier than what I was used to, as the vendors attempted to out-shout each other for the attention (and euros) of the shoppers.  It really felt like another world- a lively, multi-cultural, energizing, and curious world.IMG_2877

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Filed under food markets, grocery shopping, Paris, shopping, Uncategorized