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When I first moved to Paris in 2008, the 19th seemed so far away. Over the years my vision of Paris has become smaller, and now 30 minutes by bike brings me to the city center, and a 30 minute metro ride can very well be to the other side of Rive Droit.

I have a vivid memory of being at Buttes Chaumont for Nuit Blanche a few years ago. There were lamps placed every few meters across one of their fields, and as the sun set the park lit up with Pixar-like lights. There was a panel with messages flashing, and many other marvelous installations.

It’s the ideal park for a picnic. Despite the hills, if you find a good spot on a slight incline, you’ll be set for hours. The park is filled with youth and laughter, with runners, families, music and ice cream. Climb around the back of the hills up to the path that leads to the tower where you have a panoramic view of the city, with the silhouette of Sacré Coeur and Montmartre in the distance. You’ll feel so high up. From that particular spot things seem so far away and spaced out so awkwardly. There was smog, but with the sunsetting it made for shadowed like buildings contrasting the pastel skies. It was quite nice.

If you’re just visiting Paris for a few days this spot may seem pretty far out, but make the treck, it’s a different kind of charming, not like the other parks in the heart of the city.

Parc de la Villette - De quelle planete es tu - 1Spring is still chilly and gray here. I’ve constantly got the chills. Sunshine, come out to play.

I will admit it’s nice to force ourselves to get out of the house a bit. Do you ever find it hard to just get out and move around on cold days like this?

This particular Sunday we went to explore somewhere I had never been, le Parc de la Villette in Paris’s 19th. The skies were gray, and the parts of the park that we wandered through were more than just silent and far too calm. La Géode‘s reflection of the sky gave it the same shades of gray, and at times I had to squeeze my eyes shut and squint to make out where it was when looking at it from a distance.

When the weather is nice, this park is filled with so much life, but with the cold the structures seemed even more immense and simply empty. It was surreal… and felt abandoned in some ways.

It was a refreshingly chilly stroll.

Parc de la Villette - De quelle planete es tu - 2 Parc de la Villette - De quelle planete es tu - 3 Parc de la Villette - De quelle planete es tu - 4 Parc de la Villette - De quelle planete es tu - 5 Parc de la Villette - De quelle planete es tu - 6 Parc de la Villette - De quelle planete es tu - 7 Parc de la Villette - De quelle planete es tu - 8 Parc de la Villette - De quelle planete es tu - 9Stay cozy. Sunshine will be here to stay soon, j’espère.

If you’re looking to stroll through this part of Paris, find my favorite spots in this post on the 19th district.

Paris’s 19th district I feel is sometimes misunderstood. It’s a big district, so this is split into two parts. Part one is the Eastern 19th. (Western 19th will come later on)

The 19th arrondissement is the home of Place des Fêtes, Jourdain, the Quartier d’Amérique and La Villette as well as many other unique- and sometimes forgotten- places. In case you’re a bit unsure of where the 19th is, it spans the northeastern Parisian limits. It is such a charming and different area. I started to fall in love with it while roaming around. It almost feels untouched by the cliché mob of tourism that often takes over Paris.

The whole adventure started with a view looking down on Paris through rue de Belleville from Pyrénées (line 11), where Annie and I met up one cold and rainy Saturday. From there we wandered north on rue de Bellville into the midst of the 19th’s treasures. Once we got up by Télégraphe we went due north on Rue du Docteur Potain to find the Mouzaïa Villas that are hidden up by the périph behind Place des Fêtes. Sure enough, heading eastwards on Rue de Mouzaïa brings you right to the bottom of the most precious streets packed with pastel-coloured duplexes on both sides. It was so incredibly picturesque. Ever so kindly, a man saw us awing over the adorableness of the houses and he chatted about the area and how pleasant it was to live there- and of course full of history. I would love to have a neighbor like him! I have had issues finding information on Le Quartier d’Amérique’s history, but all I can say is is that it has the most interesting yet flawless combination of architecture.

From the villas we looped around between the towers to Place des Fêtes, which that particular Saturday had an antique market/garage sale. It was busy and exciting as everyone was out and about. From here, you’d only be a short walk to Parc Butte Chaumont, which I find to be one of Paris’s best kept secrets. Of course the 19th reaches Paris’s limits at Parc de la Villette as well, which is whole other ballgame of adventures. (You’ll see both of these places in Part 2!)

While roaming this area,  I felt as if I was not in Paris for a short second… but then I realized that maybe people have an incorrect vision or cliché expectation of the city as a whole. Paris is a puzzle of unique and diverse sectors. Each arrondissement has it’s own little twist. Sometimes you’ve got to branch out from the center to experience it all.

. . . . .

Some random suggestions in the 19th:

Aux Bons Amis – Bar/Restaurant – Belleville

BarOurcq – Bar – Laumière

Butte Chaumont - Park – Laumière

Cabaret Sauvage – Concert Venue – Porte de Pantin

L’heure Bleue – Restaurant – Botzaris

La Faitout – Snack – Belleville

La Géode – Cinéma – Corentin Cariou

La Rotonde – Bar/Venue – Place Stalingrad

Le 104 – Art Center/Venue – Crimée

Les Mère Veilleuses – Bar – Pré Saint Gervais

Les 400 Coups – Restaurant/Bar – Jourdain

Rosa Bonheur - Restaurant/Guinguette – Botzaris

Zoé Bouillon – Restaurant – Butte Chaumont

This photobooth run by La Joyeuse de Photographie is at the Centre 104 in Paris (which is worth a day in itself). Stop by for a few flashes, the whole place is worth a wander. Don’t forget to pop by the Emmaüs Boutique there, they have some fantastic things that will probably catch your fancy (for other Emmaüs shops in Paris, click here). Their agenda is always changing, so before you go be sure to check out what’s going on there right here.

Le Centre 104
5 rue Curial, 75019
Tél:  01 53 35 51 00
Métro: Riquet (7)