Sunday, August 17, 2014

Paris, that village... (Summer 2014 Travelogue - Part 3)

Paris is a bustling, crazy city.
Visitors often complain about the large crowds;
Nobody has gotten lost in la Joconde's smile (Mona Lisa) since the 1960s;
La Vieille Dame (the Eiffel Tower) will keep you waiting, and waiting;
Les Champs-Elysées look like a cosmopolitan ant world, day and night;
Notre-Dame only gets quiet if you climb her towers, looking for Quasimodo.

Paris is a city of villages. 
Former villages; now neighborhoods;
Each with a distinct flavor.
Venture out of the beaten path, visitor;
You shall be rewarded. 

Somewhere on the Left Bank, a special place hides. 
It is known as la Butte aux Cailles (Quail Hill.) 

Once a working-class neighborhood, it sat by the Bièvre river.
Today, the river still meets the Seine, but it runs underground.
On the shores of la Bièvre
there were tanneries, windmills, and limestone quarries.
The ground became so unstable it could not carry the weight of heavy construction.
That is why la Butte aux Cailles still looks like a village.
Private homes, tucked away from the street behind green metal gates.
Peaceful streets, sleeping in the summer sun.

Villa Daviel
A friendly local...

During la Commune, a violent civil insurrection in 1871, 
People in La Butte aux Cailles fought long and hard. 
Memories of the uprising linger on la Place de la Commune de Paris.

The only signs of rebellion today are tags and graffiti. 
In la Butte aux Cailles, they call this street art. 

There is a small square, la place Paul Verlaine
In the center, the fountain's water supply comes from
an old artesian well, sourced by natural spring water.

The fountain was closed when I stopped by in early July... Dommage.

Place Paul Verlaine, there is a swimming pool, inaugurated in the 1920s;
One of Paris' three public swimming pools at the time. 
Red brick façade. Art Nouveau style. Water pumped from the artesian well;
Kept at a comfortable 28 degrees Celsius (82 F) year round.
The old public baths are still there too.

The three pools (one indoors, two outdoors) were renovated and re-opened a few weeks ago
(Commons - Wikimedia) 

These days, nobody goes starving in la Butte aux Cailles.
This is Paris, after all. 
Visitors can sit in a wine bar; eat a crêpe, or sample traditional cuisine. 
At night, locals, artists and hipsters mingle.
The old neighborhood wakes up with the sound of animated conversations;
Tables and chairs crowd the sidewalks.

Loved my lunch at L'Oisive-Thé
restaurant; knitting and crochet club. 
La Butte aux Piafs (Piaf = small bird) 

In Paris, you get the visit you deserve. 
Mine always include a stroll in a favorite "village." 
And as villages go, la Butte aux Cailles is as authentic and special as any.

This is your lucky day. 
How about a stroll there, right here, right now?
The great Inès de la Fressange is more than a style icon.
She embodies the ultimate Parisienne.
Les Parisiennes know their city, and Inès has many scoops on Paris.
Follow her in this entertaining video clip, as she takes us to her favorite boutiques
in Paris' la Butte aux Cailles neighborhood. 
(Note: Isn't it great to see that even a fashion icon can be a total klutz?) 

Bonne visite et à bientôt. 

To visit la Butte aux Cailles:

Metro Line 6 
Station: Corvisart
Walk up la rue des 5 DIamants (street of the five diamonds)
until it meets la rue de la Butte aux Cailles. 
You have arrived. Explore. Relax. 

All photos unless otherwise noted by French Girl in Seattle.
Please do not reprint, use or Pin without Permission.
Thank you.


  1. Thank you for the lovely tour of this part of Paris!! I hope to visit it in the next year! You must have enjoyed it so much, being back in your native country! I think You are an ambassador icon of France! I do love Ines' Little Diary videos.

    1. I did enjoy being back in Paris, and in France, even more than usual, this summer. "Ambassador icon of France" -- Methinks I love my new title!

  2. Thank you for a wonderful insight into this Parisian village. Our first few visits to Paris entailed seeing the usual tourist sights, now we just stay in one arrondissement and explore that area. However, we have tended to keep returning to the 4 arr and the 6 arr, but its definitely time to move on. The 13arr is a priority now! I agree whole-heartedly with Sketchbook Wandering - you are a wonderful ambassador for France. Merci.

    1. Nothing wrong with the 4th and the 6th arrondissements, Elizabeth, except larger crowds (sometimes.) The 13th arrondissement is less touristy, but there are fun things to discover there too: The Beautiful Parc Montsouris (built in the late 19th century,) the Chinese district, and of course, la Butte aux Cailles make it worth a visit.

  3. I went on a walking tour of this neighborhood awhile back and was instantly charmed. It is indeed a wonderful and calm place.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Stuart. I hope life is good in Amboise!

  4. One of my favorite places in Paris to wander Veronique. And I think that is one of the things about the city that charms me so - that in spite of the bustle and crowds, it really is just a tapestry of villages all stitched together.

    Hope you have a lovely week! XO

    1. A very fitting description of Paris, Jeanne. Not all areas feel like villages, but that makes neighborhoods like La Butte aux Cailles all the more special. A bientôt!

  5. Hello Veronique, I absolutely love when you escort us through the streets of your home town. Knowing an area, intimately, as you do, leads to surprising places known to the locals. The Ines de la Fressange video is fitting.
    Wishing you continued joy as we bask in summer's sunshine.

    Helen xx

    1. Thank you so much, dear Helen. It has been my pleasure to take readers through my favorite places over the last three-something years. I never travel alone, and that is really wonderful!

  6. This is such a charming area, full of character, which really does look like a village and it seems so compact too. It's these hidden, lesser known parts of cities which offer so much to the visitor and I would be delighted to have lunch in L'Oisive-Thé too. I enjoyed taking a leisurely stroll with you and of course with Inès who epitomises the term 'effortlessly chic.' I believe there are several videos in her Little Diary series including Le Marais which I shall have to watch sometime.

    1. You are correct, miss b. Inès shot quite a few of these little videos for Roger Vivier a few years ago. There are all entertaining, but the best part - of course - is to watch Inès ;-) I hope you are having a fabulous summer!

  7. FABULOUS post!! I esp love the Ines film...but all of it. Mille Merci, Veronique! Hugs to you....


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