La Butte aux Cailles, Paris

Paris is a bustling, crazy city.
Visitors often complain about the large crowds.
Nobody has gotten lost in la Jocondes smile (Mona Lisa) since the 1960s.
La Dame de Fer (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 la Bièvre, a river.
Today, the river still meets la 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.

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 une 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 good as any.

A 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. 

Text and photos by French Girl in Seattle.

Please do not use without Permission.

Thank you.


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