The 20th is one of the districts of Paris that in many ways remains untouched.
The stroll began right at the exit of metro stop Alexandre Dumas, which falls on the intersection of Boulevard Charonne and Rue de Bagnolet— which is also the border of the 11th and 20th districts.
Miss Annie (the homie of mine who knows all things concerning Parisian history, and thus is the instigator of such strolls) met up with me and we started to wander eastwards up Rue de Bagnolet. Annie lived in this area during a study abroad when she was 16, so she knew the area pretty well, despite the radical changes and gentrification it had been through in the recent years. The street is filled with little shops, cafés, bars and tucked away villas filling the street with color. On this little hike you’ll pass Le Merle Moqeur on the left, which is a preciously kitsch bookshop with loads of accessories and stationary-like goodies. If you keep wandering in the same direction you’ll come across of two of the most amazing thingsthis part of town has to offer: La Flèche D’Or and Mama Shelter.
Both of these little havens rest right upon La Petite Ceinture, which is an old railroad track that circles Paris. It has been deserted for years, but still illustrates a little hint of history every time you see it near the Parisian inner walls (photographed above). It’s a good question why it’s not in use, but the debate continues concerning what to do with it. La Flèche D’Or, one of Paris’s highlight concert venues, is an old station from the railroad and keeps it’s spunk with the evacuation stairs leading down to the tracks and of course the views of the tracks from the bar/café upstairs.
After a few ooh’s and ahh’s over the preciousness of both of these venues, we wandered up to see Place Edith Piaf, by metro Porte de Bagnolet. This little place sports the name of one of France’s most famous icons, who was known to have come from the 20th district of Paris.
This part of town lead us to the northern rim of Cimitère Père Lachaise, one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Paris (I mean, they’re all stunning). Icons such as Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde are buried in this cemetery. Autumn was the perfect time to stroll here, as the sidewalks were covered in orange and golden leaves…..luckily we didn’t catch any rain that day. You can see some photos of Père Lachaise in the fall by Making Magique right here. Up from Père Lachaise cemetery is where the 20th merges with the other districts (11th & 19th), near the depths of Belleville. Right before- however- you’ll pass Menilmontant, an area that is also bustling with life. Right east of the Menilmontant metro on rue Menilmontant is Paris’s oldest and most well known “squatters” paradise, La Miroiterie (also a concert venue, gallery, bar etc…). On the way back down rue Menilmontant, stop and get an Algerian pastry in one of the local shops. They are delicious.
Now Up to Belleville. (By the way, you can read more on the entirety of Belleville right here,.. because it sits on a few different Parisian districts, this post focuses simply on the southeast side of the petite ville toute jolie). Belleville is one of the parts of Paris that all people should wander a little bit. Its rich colliding-of-cultures make it a rich adventure worth taking. Beyond the cafés and busy streets are abandoned alleys filled with street art and other amazing outdoor installations. In this area is also La Bellevilloise, which is a great place for all things artsy. Check their website for upcoming events and the likes- even stop in for a coffee. If you wander back enough you’ll hit le Parc de Belleville, which from the top has a stunning view of all of Paris. Heading north you’ll go until the southern border of the 19th. Sometimes I wonder how I did not discover these places until now, after 4 years of living here. These areas are what make up the true Paris. The untouched Paris.
Go on now, discover this part of Paris. You won’t even feel like you’re in Paris- which is simply exciting. Paris has so much to offer outside of the cliche everyday central things- it’s worth a gander.
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Some Random Suggestions in the 20th:
A la Vièrge de la Réunion – Bar à vins – Maraîchers
Aux Folies de Belleville - Bar, Café, Brasserie – Belleville
La Bellevilloise - Concert venue, Art Space, Café – Ménilmontant / Pelleport
Le Comptoir des Mots – Bookstore - Gambetta
Confluences Maison des Arts Urbains – Art Space / Gallery – Philippe Auguste / Alexandre Dumas
La Féline – Dive Bar – Ménilmontant
La Flèche D’Or – Concert Venue, Bar, Club - Alexandre Dumas / Porte de Bagnolet
La Flûte de Gana – Boulangerie – Gambetta / Pelleport
La Mer à Boire – Bar – Pyrénées
Le Merle Moqeur – Bookstore – Alexandre Dumas
Les Mondes Bohèmes – Restaurant, Wine Bar, Gallery – Alexandre Dumas
Les Pères Populaires - Bar – Buzenval / Avron
Le Poisson Bleu – Wine Bar – Alexandre Dumas
Mama Shelter - Hotel, Restaurant, Bar – Alexandre Dumas / Porte de Bagnolet
La Miroiterie – Espace particulier – Menilmontant
O Mille et Une Fèves - Chocolaterie – Alexandre Dumas
Le Studio de l’Ermitage – Performing Arts Centre / Music Venue – Ménilmontant / Saint-Fargeau
Z’indems Café – Bar / Restaurant – Alexandre Dumas