Paris - Bellville and Père Lachaise

JUL 16,2019 - JUL 16,2019 (1 DAYS)

France

1 DAYS

Citywalk

Bellville and Père Lachaise:

Start: Bellville Metro Station (Line 2 and Line 11) or Couronnes station (line 2). End: Père Lachaise Metro station (Line 2). Duration: 3/4 day. Weather: Any weather. Distance: 9 km. Walking in the Père Lachaise cemetery consumes a few more kilometres.

Main Sights: Place Fréhel, 72 rue de Bellville - Edith Piaf’s birthplace, Parc de Bellville, Vieux Belleville, Rue des Savies, Église catholique Notre-Dame-de-la-Croix de Ménilmontant, Marché de Belleville, Le Zebre de Bellville, Rue Denoyez, Père Lachaise.

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Introduction: Somewhat chaotic neighborhood in Paris’ northeastern corner. One that many tourists find odd and even unnerving when they stumble on it. Belleville has always been a working class neighborhood, mostly with immigration generating much of the area's buzz. Most of the quarter inhabitants are North Africans, Sub-Saharan Africans and Chinese immigrants. But it started in the 1920's with Greeks, Jews and Armenians. Cheap rents have also led artists to flow into the area, making it an ideal spot for their ateliers. All these waves of immigration have constantly reshaped the neighborhood, creating fascinating layers of cultural influence that reveal themselves in surprising and interesting ways. Belleville may not provide a typical experience of Paris, but its energy and diversity are certainly worth checking out. The area remains one of the city's most diverse-- not to mention artistically vibrant. Noisy, crowded, and not always pristine - looking, this incredibly diverse, artistically charged area doesn’t really fit the idyllic image of Paris. Admittedly, you have to be accustomed to quite a bit of urban grit to see through some of the more unpleasant and even disturbing sides to the area. It isn’t unusual to see trash piled on the sides of the road and blowing casually in the wind, especially following the vibrant market that takes over the Boulevard de Belleville every week (see below). Many buildings in the area stand in frank disrepair, with peeling paint, collapsing foundations. It is bordered by: to the east by the Republique metro station, to the southeast by the Bassin de la Villette and the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, and north of the Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Belleville was a wine-making village, independent from Paris, until 1860 when it was annexed into the city. It was especially popular for its guinguettes, or country cafes. A tradition of folk music is also strong in the area, and up until very recently residents of the area were said to speak with their own specific Parisian accents. Long associated with popular revolt, socialist and communist ideas, Belleville is legendary as a site of battles and massacres, following the brief popular revolution of 1871 known as the Paris Commune. Residents of Belleville were considered some of the most rebellious, resisting fiercely during the Paris Commune of 1871, a popular insurrection that ended when the Versailles Army came to reconquer the city. The “Communards” of Belleville were among the last to surrender to the counterrevolutionary Versailles Army, building strong barricades around the neighborhood. Most of the revolters were captured; thousands of people were gunned down in the streets. Today, you can see a haunting memorial in their honor (known as the Mur des Féderés) at the nearby Père-Lachaise Cemetery (see below). 

The early 1900's saw many cultural groups fleeing persecution in their home countries and landing in Belleville’s safe haven: the Ottoman Armenians arrived in 1918, the Ottoman Greeks in 1920, the German Jews in 1938 and the Spanish in 1938. Tunisian Jews and Muslim Algerians began arriving in the 1960's. 

Our Itinerary: Start at metro Belleville (line 2, 11). Exiting the station, you’ll find yourself at the busy intersection between Boulevard de Belleville and Rue de Belleville. The latter starts out on flat ground but quickly runs up a steep hill, to the aptly-named Metro Pyrenees, then further north to Jourdain (where another neighborhood informally begins). From the Belleville Metro station - head northeast on Rue de Belleville toward Boulevard de Belleville, 400 m. On your right - Place Fréhel. This place was named in honor of Marguerite Boulc'h known as Fréhel (1891-1951), actress and singer of the inter-war period, whose lyrics are a reflection of a popular and miserable Paris. , in connection with the Lower Belleville district. The nickname of the artist comes from Cape Fréhel in Brittany:Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

On the corner of the street you’ll find Culture Rapide, a bar offering inexpensive drinks, an unusual atmosphere and a terrace overlooking the square. Continue climbing east along rue de Bellville. Cross rue Jouye-Rouve and rue Piat on your right and you arrive to 72 rue de Bellville - Edith Piaf’s birthplace. The legendary singer is said to have been born under a streetlamp on neighborhood thoroughfare rue de Belleville on 19 December 1915, the daughter of a busker and a cafe singer. There's a commemorative plaque at number 72. You can also visit a statue nearby depicting and paying tribute to Piaf. First, she sang at a tiny cafe down the street, Aux Folies, an art-deco relic with cubist mosaics, swirls of neon lettering above its zinc counter, and iron pillars plastered with handbills for shows dating back to the 1920s. She sang there when she was young and poor, in between performing as a street musician with her father. In her days this was a gritty neighbourhood and it hasn’t changed much, with a shabby market by the metro station and blocks of peeling townhouses; this is the real, old Paris, the world she sang about, with its desperate cast of thieves and tramps and lovers. Growing up here was what gave her songs their sting.

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Return to rue Piat and continue CLIMBING south-east along this road for 90 m. until you see, on your right, the entrance to Parc de Bellville, 47 Rue des Couronnes. Leave the chaotic urban bustle behind and enter this unassuming sanctuary. The Parc de Belleville offers strolls through tree-covered lanes, cozy park benches and a magnificent 180-degree view of the city. If you want to see Paris from a different point of view you have to climb to the top af the Park. This is Paris off the beaten path, we were the only visitors over here... A bit neglected and gloomy:

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Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

From Parc de Belleville we head southeast on Rue Piat toward Passage Piat, 30 m. Turn, a bit, left onto Rue des Envierges and on #12 you see Vieux Belleville, 12 Rue des Envierges. If you like Chansons and accordion, that place is for you (well, in the EVENINGS). It's a family run restaurant. The food in this place is not the main issue (it is GOOD !) , the chanson-that's why people coming every evening to this very old restaurant. The songs are all old-time French popular songs. Every Tuesday - they have Edith Piaf's evening. It is loud, cheerful, sometimes vulgar and joyous - hard to imagine anyone not having fun here.

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Head northeast on Rue des Envierges toward Villa Faucheur, 260 m. At Place Henri Krasucki, take the 2nd exit onto Rue de la Mare, 160 m. Rue de la Mare turns slightly left and becomes Rue de Savies, 50 m. Rue des Savies bears the ancient name of the territory of Belleville , Savegium or Savegiæ , Savies , preserved for a long time by the seigniorial farm belonging to the abbey of Saint-Martin-des-Champs .

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Climb east along rue de Savies and turn RIGHT to rue des Cascades. Lined with low and tall houses, the quiet and green rue des Cascades, is a surprising street with a provincial atmosphere. It is winding on the side of the Belleville hill between the Place Henri-Krasucki and the 101 rue de Ménilmontant. The first mention of the rue des cascades dates back to the 17th century. The name of the street means ‘waterfalls’ in French. It refers to the three ‘regards’ (or manholes) that were connected to the Belleville aqueduct. A clever water supply system was put in place during the Roman era and was later abandoned. In the Middle Ages it was rediscovered and used by religious orders such as the Saint-Martin-des-Champs abbey and the Templars (now in the 3rd arrondissement) to supply them with captured rainwater.

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Head south on Rue des Cascades toward Rue de Ménilmontant, 210 m. Turn right onto Rue de Ménilmontant, 250 m. Turn right onto Rue de la Mare, 95 m. Turn left to stay on Rue de la Mare, 15 m. Continue onto Rue d'Eupatoria, 110 m. The Église catholique Notre-Dame-de-la-Croix de Ménilmontant, 3 Place de Ménilmontant is on your left. Église catholique Notre-Dame-de-la-Croix de Ménilmontant. It is imposing, inside and out and the stained glass and frescoes add another element. For those interested in church architecture in Paris, this is well worth it!

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Head west on Rue d'Eupatoria toward Rue Julien Lacroix, 50 m. Turn left onto Rue Julien Lacroix and waljk 65 m. to see, on your right, L'ariel Café. 

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From L'ariel Café head northwest on Rue Julien Lacroix toward Rue Etienne Dolet, 40 m. Turn left onto Rue Etienne Dolet, 270 m. Turn right onto Boulevard de Belleville, 400. On your left you pass through Coronnes Metro station. The aforementioned Marché de Belleville, is open on Boulevard de Belleville between metro Couronnes and Belleville each Tuesday and Thursday from 7.30  to around 14.00. This open-air market is truly a little gem. Well known for its multiculturalism, with both Chinese and North-African culture, you could find in the surrounding lots of shops and restaurants. On the traffic island of Boulevard de Belleville, the ambiance is getting warmer every Tuesday and Thursday or Friday. you'll notice hundreds of different stalls offering typical products and exotic ones. It's in the neighborhood being. With the ethnic cuisine restaurant around here, you'll for sure find astonishing products. You can also find some clothes stalls here. You are at the crossroads of different cultures: Arabic, Chinese or Jewish. High quality foods at attractive prices and unsold Rungis. Then, at the end of the market, prices are sold off, making it without question one of the cheapest markets in Paris. Moreover, on the return, do not hesitate to stop in a stall of the boulevard to discover oriental specialties. Note: it is VERY busy, packed, slow-pacing and VERY HARD for quick navigation or browsing:

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Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

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Raise your head and note the Le Zebre de Bellville, 63, boulevard de Belleville. The Zebra Belleville is a former neighborhood cinema transformed into a theater (concerts, circus ...). In the smallest cabaret in Europe, the artists are always present, the conviviality lined with humor makes wonder: the trapeze artist brushes the heads, the juggling clubs surround the bodies, the magician makes his turns between your plates. When then their numbers finished, the artists take a drink with you and invite you a few steps of dance. The Zebra program also offers many concerts and circus workshops for those who want to try this living art! Le Zebre de Belleville is a very compact cabaret, offering, actually, intimate cosy setting. Apart from hosting a variety of music concerts, they also stage their own shows, like the “Histoires Z'et Cordes", les Z'ateliers Cirque d'Alyona et Lilly.  → 1945, creation of Le Nox Cinema. → 1951, The Nox becomes The Berry. → In the 80s, Le Berry is named after Zebra . It becomes The Berry-Zebra. → In January 1995, The Zebra Berry is abandoned and remains walled for 5 years. → January 1999, Francis Schoeller , director of the Cirque de Paris , bought the walls. → March 1 , 2002, inauguration of the Belleville Zebra and 1 st show, The Cirque Cruel.

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We  also recommend checking out “Le Food Market”, a new pop-up market that’s open one Thursday evening a month in the same location. Vendors at this new market sell delicious street food dishes based on recipes from around the world. From Le Zèbre de Belleville, 63 Boulevard de Belleville head northwest on Boulevard de Belleville toward Rue de l'Orillon, 80 m. Turn right onto Rue de l'Orillon/Rue Ramponeau and continue to follow Rue Ramponeau, 60 m. Turn left onto Rue Denoyez. This short, narrow, cobbled street in Belleville is almost totally covered with graffiti and this is rare in the sense that graffiti artists are given free space to express themselves. So not only the walls but the bollards, street signs, window shutters etc. are ALL covered. It is creative, imaginative and very funny. It is not a tourist site, as such, though people take photos. This place is so exceptional or bizarre that it will certainly make most people smile if not laugh out loud. Whether you take 15 minutes or an hour, explore the little streets around Rue Denoyez, situated at the left-hand side of the cafe-bars that’s long been beloved by locals, Aux Folies (8 rue de Belleville). After wandering down the street and taking in the murals and local ateliers, you can stop to have a cheap drink on the terrace at Aux Folies.

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Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

When you’re on a budget, Belleville is an ideal place to explore Paris’ varied culinary culture. It’s especially famous these days for its Chinese restaurants and Vietnamese Pho joints (traditional noodle soup with beef and vegetables). For example: Pho 19 at 43, rue de Belleville. If you start your itinerary during the midday hours - try the Le Président restaurant, 
120 Rue du Faubourg du Temple (20 m. west to the Bellville Metro station). Closer to metro Couronnes, at the point where Boulevard de Belleville turns into Boulevard Ménilmontant, you’ll find a variety of eateries and small markets specializing in Moroccan and Tunisian cuisine (L'Assassin, Cannibale Café, DI-Napoli). We took our lunch at Canailles Belleville, 82 Boulevard de Belleville. Delicious food, average service, set menu at 17 euros. NO signal for your internet. We suspect - it is caused by the owners. A HUGE tourist TRAP. The young owner (Tunisian) had inflated the prices and tried to rob us. DO NOT DARE entering this place !!! AVOID IT BY ALL MEANS!!! 

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From Canailles Belleville, 82 Boulevard de Belleville - it is a 1 km. walk to Père Lachaise cemetery. Head southeast on Boulevard de Belleville toward Rue de Pali-Kao, 400 m. Continue onto Boulevard de Ménilmontant for 600 m. and the Père Lachais Metro station, 30 Boulevard de Ménilmontant is on your left. Otherwise - head southeast on Boulevard de Belleville toward Rue de Pali-Kao, slight right toward Boulevard de Belleville and turn left onto Boulevard de Belleville - all in all 170 m. Take Metro Line 2 from Couronnes Metro station to Philippe Auguste station (3 stops). It is the CLOSEST metro station to the Père Lachaise cemetery. The Père Lachaise cemetery takes its name from King Louis XIV's confessor, Father François d'Aix de La Chaise. Both the largest Parisian park and cemetery in one, Père Lachaise makes for an odd attraction but is certainly worth a look in during a stay in France’s capital. It is the most prestigious and most visited necropolis in Paris. Situated in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, it extends over a HUGE area and contains 70,000 burial plots. The cemetery is a mix between an English park and a shrine. All funerary art styles are represented: Gothic graves, Haussmanian burial chambers, ancient mausoleums, etc. On the green paths, visitors cross the burial places of famous figures of the European history: Honoré de Balzac, Guillaume Apollinaire, Frédéric Chopin, Colette, Jean-François Champollion, Jean de La Fontaine, Molière, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, Jim Morrison, Alfred de Musset, Edith Piaf, Camille Pissarro and Oscar Wilde are just a few. In 1963, 100,000 people followed Piaf’s coffin to her grave, stopping the traffic right across the city. By then she had become an icon of the place, an authentic voice whose life matched her songs of heartbreak and courage. Fellow singer Marlene Dietrich called Piaf “the soul of Paris”. Fans still gather at her grave in the celebrity-studded Père Lachaise cemetery. It’s a simple black slab of marble, with a vase of fresh flowers and a line from a song at the foot: “God reunites those who love each other.” After paying your respects, revive your spirits is the nearby Bar de la Place Edith Piaf, whose walls are covered with black-and-white photos of the diva at her best. In the square outside is a statue of her in full song, arms stretched above her head – though whether in rapture or despair it’s impossible to tell. Cemetery open MON-FRI: 8.00 - 18.00, SAT: 8.30 - 18.00, SUN: 9.00 - 18.00. FREE. Note: fairly difficult to navigate the cemetery's many paths. The maps you get are USELESS. Huge distances among the famous graves. Impossible to spot and locate the famous ones without local help !

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Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Mass grave of Jewes from the concentration camp Mauthausen.

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In 1963, 100,000 people followed Piaf’s coffin to her grave, stopping the traffic right across the city. By then she had become an icon of the place, an authentic voice whose life matched her songs of heartbreak and courage. Fellow singer Marlene Dietrich called Piaf “the soul of Paris”. Fans still gather at her grave in the celebrity-studded Père Lachaise cemetery. It’s a simple black slab of marble, with a vase of fresh flowers and a line from a song at the foot: “God reunites those who love each other.” After paying your respects, revive your spirits is the nearby Bar de la Place Edith Piaf, whose walls are covered with black-and-white photos of the diva at her best. In the square outside is a statue of her in full song, arms stretched above her head – though whether in rapture or despair it’s impossible to tell.

Tomb of Edith Piaf:

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Tomb of Marcel Marceau:

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Tomb of Gilbert Becaud:

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Tomb of Oscar Wilde. Over the years Oscar Wilde’s grave has attracted an almost cult following as visitors flocked to adorn the tomb with red lipstick kisses and declarations of love. Cleaning the lipstick marks from the tomb resulted in irreparable damage and Wilde’s family repeatedly requested that his burial place should be respected. Eventually, in 2011, a protective barrier was erected in an attempt to preserve the tomb but we still spotted plenty of lipstick marks above the glass:

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Tomb of Honoré de Balzac. Author of the great novel series La Comédie Humaine, Balzac loved to walk among the tombs in Pere Lachaise. If he was alive to appreciate it he would surely be delighted to be buried amongst his heroes today. He is buried alongside his wife, with a bust of himself (made by David d’Angers) and a figure of a feathered pen with a copy of La Comédie Humaine:

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Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

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Memorial tomb of Jews from the concentration camp Mauthausen:

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Memorial tomb of Jewes from the concentration camp Buchenwald:

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Memorial tomb of deads from the Auschwitz concentration camp:

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Memorial tomb of Jewish children killed by the Nazis 1942 - 1945:

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The Mur des Fedérés at Père-Lachaise commemorates the gunned-down victims of local insurrectionists during the Paris Commune of 1871:

Citywalk in , France, visiting things to do in France, Travel Blog, Share my Trip It is a 500 m. walk back to Pere Lachaise Metro station. From the main entrance at 8 Boulevard de Ménilmontant - head west on Impasse du Pilier toward Boulevard de Ménilmontant, 20 m. Turn right onto Boulevard de Ménilmontant, 270 m. Continue along Boulevard de Ménilmontant further for 220 m. and Père Lachaise Metro station is on the right.

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