We explored an uncharted area of Paris the other day. La Butte aux Cailles is a neighborhood in the 13th arrondissement unknown to many visitors. It once was a fenced-in village in the 17th century and was annexed into Paris in 1860. When we first visited the 13th, we had gone there for Chinatown, oblivious of this existing village.
As we walked along the cobblestone streets making our appearance in front of locals who were dining and drinking outside, we felt out of place. Many restaurants, pubs and cafes lined the narrow street we walked on. The buildings were quaint and had an art-deco ambiance. I could feel the vibe of this charming neighborhood, and it felt like a small town, as though everyone knew each other. It was obvious we were the outsiders.
Further into the neighborhood on Rue de la Butte aux Cailles, art hipsters had made their mark. We saw a few murals of unique paintings, but I didn’t dare whip out my camera in front of these locals. Our every move was being watched and although they probably pegged us as tourists, I still did not want to give in to it and entertain them any further.
Rue Daviel, on a slope to one side is a strip of art-nouveau villa houses and to the other side is a short block of homes built to resemble the traditional buildings of Northern France and Russia. There is a lovely courtyard beyond a gate of these little Russian style homes, but I didn’t dare step inside, fearing we would get reprimanded by some elderly French woman. Instead, I zoomed in my camera and took a vague shot of the place.
On our way out of the neighborhood, we scoped out one last thing. Of its entrance is a square on Place Paul Verlaine that provides natural spring water. People can go there and fill their very own spring water without having to pay for it. We took the opportunity to fill our empty bottled water and tasted it. It was very drinkable and did not taste any different from store-bought spring water.
Across from the square are more quaint homes and an art-nouveau swimming pool. I did not take a picture of the pool, but it is made up of red brick and the roof is bell curved with two chimneys erected from above.
Afterwards I found out we had missed the block of colorful homes in La Butte aux Cailles. Alas, that would have been nice to see! Be sure to look for them if you decide to take a gander.