A sunny Sunday walk in Belleville
What do Parisians do on a sunny Sunday? They do much as people do in any city. They meet friends in a favourite café or restaurant. They exercise in the local park or take the children there to play and for a picnic. They walk the dog, do a bit of food shopping perhaps, or browse a lively market. Certainly the people of Belleville do all those things.
While we often revisit favourite spots in Paris and take in some of the ‘big hitter’ sights, we always try to discover somewhere new on each visit too. On the Sunday of our latest visit, the day of our anniversary, we decided to explore this one-time village of Belleville, perched on a hill to the north east of the city.
Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Belleville
We started at the Jourdain metro station. When we emerged from the station we saw the Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Belleville directly opposite, its beautiful façade catching the morning sun. Being a Sunday I thought we might be prevented from exploring inside if a Mass were in progress; but fortunately all was quiet.
This was one of the first churches of neo-Gothic architecture to be constructed in Paris, 1854-1859. The façade has scenes from the life of John the Baptist and a statue of him between the large doors. The latter depicts him in the desert presenting the Lamb of God.
The interior is relatively simple but has some lovely stained glass which was dappling the walls of the nave with spots of colour in the sunlight. A sign in one of the side chapels told us that Edith Piaf was baptised here in December 1917.
On the streets of Belleville
Leaving the church we set out on our walk, heading in the direction of the Belvédère de Belleville. On the way we passed lots of good examples of street art and some appealing cafés. But we resisted the temptation to stop for the time being at least.
As we neared the park I noticed that the apartment blocks were looking increasingly smart. This seemed a very pleasant area in which to live and one that would appeal to me. I loved the combination of the vibrant cosmopolitan community feel and the wonderful views over the city.
Belvédère de Belleville
The views over Paris once we reached the belvedere were wonderful.
We took some photos, of course, before retiring to a nearby pavement café to enjoy a coffee and watch others doing the same.
More Belleville streets
The next part of our walk took us back towards Jourdain by a different route, along the Rue de Belleville, with its eclectic mix of shops. Lots of people were out by now, doing a bit of Sunday morning shopping or enjoying brunch with friends in the various cafés and restaurants. I found some interesting details to photograph and more street art.
We passed through a more modern residential area centred on the Place des Fêtes. The food market had attracted quite a crowd; so we steered around it and carried on towards a more picturesque area, La Mouzaïa. The unusual name is Algerian; the district is named after the mountain pass of Mouzaïa, where the French army fought during the French conquest of Algeria, in 1839.
Here we found narrow lanes known as Villas, lined with pretty houses, with even prettier gardens. These small homes were originally built for workers, quarrymen in the local gypsum quarries. Today they are very desirable residences, reminding me a bit of London mews houses. I loved all the little details in the gardens!
The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
We skirted the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont to find lunch in a café by the town hall of the 19th Arrondissement on the Place Armand Carrel, as we suspected (rightly) that the park’s cafés would be too busy on this sunny Sunday. We then spent a relaxing hour or so exploring the park, where we encountered a friendly lady walking her kitten on a lead, lots of picnicking families, beautiful views and a few steep hills!
This was once the site of the former gypsum quarries. In 1860, Napoleon III decided to have the area transformed into a park what was then the fashionable ‘English’ style. Although they may look natural, all its features, from its lake to its rocky outcrops, were created from scratch by the engineer Adolphe Alphand. The bridge that spans the lake and links the main part of the park to the rocky island was the work of Gustave Eiffel – yes, that Eiffel! But we (I) had run out of steam at this point so were content to simply photograph the bridge rather than cross it.
Maybe on our next visit we will return to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont for more in-depth exploration, but on this occasion relaxing and people-watching took priority.
Perversely, I’m sharing our Sunday walk for Jo’s Monday Walks, and posting it on a Tuesday!
I visit Paris often; this walk in Belleville was a highlight of our most recent 2021 visit
The cafe with the dancing aliens (?) made me laugh out loud! 😀
I couldn’t work out what they were Ruth, but dancing aliens certainly seems plausible!
Thanks for sharing, Sarah. I really loved this walk with you and definitely captured the mood of the place.
Great to have you come along with me Teresa!
Such interesting areas to visit. We love Paris but haven’t been to these areas yet, I think we will refer to your blog next time we go to get some ideas. Can just see us sitting at a table at Les Regoles Bistrot, it is so us
I definitely recommend exploring Belleville if you enjoy getting off the main beaten path in Paris. Les Regoles looked nice but there were some even more appealing places near the belvedere, which I omitted to photograph!
Amazing photo collection. I loved it!
Thank you so much, I’m happy you enjoyed this 😊
The Elephant caught my eye. Wouldn’t it be fun to interview street artists and ask ‘what moved them’ to create a particular image? And while some travelers find the Eiffel a gaudy piece of metal tourist attraction, I find it a fascinatingly elegant piece of architecture.
The elephant caught my eye too – I love elephants! But it was hard to get a good photo, with its side wall positioning and lamppost in front. I agree about the Eiffel Tower 🙂
What a lovely lot of interesting photos you’ve given us in this post, Sarah. I don’t know Paris well, don’t know why. I know virtually every other city in Europe much better than I know Paris and it’s something I wish I could rectify. When I started travelling seriously, I mean when I associated it with culture, history and the love of people and new experiences, I was already deep into the Hispanic way of life and somehow never made it back to Paris although other parts of France had my attention. You’ve shown me just what I’ve missed.
Thanks Mari 😊 It’s funny isn’t it how each of us develops an affinity with a certain part or parts of Europe and tend not to look beyond it? For us it’s Paris plus Italy, I have another friend who always goes to Switzerland and so on … I hope you get to give Paris a chance one day, it’s really worth it 🙂
What a lovely area, Sarah! It looks quite a distance out in your shot with the Montparnasse tower in the distance, but then much closer in with the Eiffel in the foreground. Love the look of that park too. I sometimes wonder if we shouldn’t have moved to France- I find the language much easier. Thanks for a great walk. Much appreciated.
Thank you Jo 🙂 Yes, I find French easier than any other foreign language, perhaps because I started to learn it at school while still very young (seven). If I were picking anywhere in Europe to live, I would choose Paris or an Italian city, maybe Bologna 🙂
So did I. Never been to Bologna but Italy was a consideration, before we ended up here 🤣💕
Well. language aside you are in a lovely part of the continent!
Beautiful views,lovely part of Paris.and you took a photo of a very cute cat.Can we expect a cats of Paris post?
Ah no, sadly – I believe this may be the only one we saw and certainly the only one I photographed. But I have photos of cats in other places that I’m sure I’ll share in the future 🙂
Just one cat in whole of Paris?maybe they hid from you😉great,I am looking forward to seeing more cat posts.I have one old photo cat post on my blog too
What a great choice of where to go for a Sunday morning. I haven’t been to Belleville for several years now, and never had such good weather. And I’ve never been to Place des Fêtes, which I’ve been meaning to visit just for the name.
To be honest we found Place des Fetes disappointing, as it’s in the middle of what looked like a not particularly attractive sixties housing estate and nothing like as nice as the name would suggest!
Good to know.
I. J. Khanewala
I love the way street art has taken over Paris. When I look at my photos from the previous decade there are hardly any.
Me too, although there’s still relatively little in the city centre. The outer arrondissements are better – we found some great examples in the 13th on our previous visit.
I. J. Khanewala
I can believe that. But the 13th was pretty staid too, in terms of street art, a decade ago. I saw a little bit in the 1st and 4th a few years ago.
If you are interested I posted some photos of street art in the 13th a while back: https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/gallery-off-the-beaten-track-in-paris/
Perfect. This kind of city-mooching with no must-see monument in sight is what I most enjoy in big towns.
Thank you Margaret – I tend to enjoy a mix of the two, but it was especially nice doing this walk on a Sunday when the locals were out enjoying themselves, and very few tourists among them 🙂