La Butte aux Cailles
As you leave the busy Rue Auguste Blanqui and venture into this secret area, nestled amongst the 13th arrondissement of Paris, you may have a sense that you have arrived in a small friendly village in country France.
Never fear, instead you are about to explore the adorable neighbourhood known as the Butte aux Cailles.
It wasn’t until 1860 that this charming area became the 13th arrondissement in Paris.
Before then it was a fenced in farming community with green meadows, quarries and windmills with the River Bièvre running through the village.
The 13th was one of the last arrondissements to become a part of Paris and sits on the far south of the left bank, bordering the periphery. Its neighbouring arrondissement, the 14th was the first to see a skyscraper in Paris, still to much controversy.
Today the river runs underground, feeding the nearby public swimming pool and fountain, the windmills and green pastures have been replaced with high rise apartment blocks but there are still pockets of pleasure to be discovered, as a reminder of times gone by.
Strolling down the main street of Butte aux Cailles, Rue Cinq Diamants, the surrounds begin to change as you work your way deeper into the centre.
The popular and bustling Chez Gladines is a fabulous place to stop for lunch or a break.
The regulars range from the young hip and arty to quiet elderly locals who pack this place out for the hearty and inexpensive Basque food served by the busy yet very friendly staff.
It would be very easy to spend an entire day here but a couple of hours will still allow you to explore what the area has to offer.
Meandering up and down surrounding streets such as, Passage Barrault and Rue Alphand observing, pretty shutters, tiny alleyways, interesting street art and dusty cottages adorned with flower boxes, pretty pot plants and creeping vines.
If you enjoy photography, you will find enough surprises to fill a whole memory card!
Further along where Rue Cinq Diamants meets Rue de la Butte aux Cailles, you will come across the quaint village square with a bakery, fruit shop, a colourful crepe café, brasseries and a delightful little shop selling fresh honey and wax products. This is the heart of Butte aux Cailles.
The nearby Rue Daviel and the dead end passage, Villa Daviel offers a couple more hidden secrets.
La Petite Alsace (pictured) can be found near the pretty red trimmed cottage at #10 Rue Daviel.
This was one of the first public housing complexes in Paris, built in 1912, consisting of 40 apartments surrounding a central courtyard in the Alsatian style.
If you quietly poke your head over the gate you can catch a glimpse of the courtyard.
Opposite the unusual La Petite Alsace is the enchanting narrow street; Villa Daviel.
Strolling along this peaceful pretty passage you will find, adorable two storey cottages, each with their own unique style and character.
Below you will find a rough map I have created to get you started indicating some of the streets that I have mentioned above but be sure to discover each and every tiny cobbled street and alleyway along the way. There is so much more to discover and explore than I have tried to squeeze in here.
Let your imagination run wild and take you back to a time gone by as you walk along the cobbled paths that so many have trod before.
When the hilly country side, with a gentle flowing river passed through green pastures, and was acquired by Pierre Caille, who bought a vineyard here in 1543.
This is where the butte (the hill) takes it’s name. Butte aux Caille, which saw the first hot air balloon wafting above.
Imagine the landscape with limestone mining and windmills as industry progressed in this working class village. The lamp lighter, patiently lighting up the cobbled streets as he individually lit each and every street lamp as darkness fell.
And now today, with an eclectic mix of architecture, elderly longtime residents, the new wave of young arty individuals, interestingly cheeky and political street art, all sitting together in peaceful harmony, with not a tourist or chain store in sight.
This is what makes up this wonderful enchanting secret pocket of Paris, they call Butte aux Cailles.
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