Paris Arrondissement 13

Buttes aux Cailles

Butte aux Cailles

I made another little trip to Paris this week.  What can I tell you?  Life is tough.

This time, however, I decided to do something different and found a place to stay in Arrondissement 13. It’s not a part of Paris I know well (or actually, know at all), so it felt like a new adventure rather than going ‘back to Paris again’.

It’s hard to find anyone singing the praises of Arrondissement 13, and it’s not hard to see why.   A somewhat neglected area, it saw ‘development’ in the 1960s with the building of a whole heap of ugly tower blocks.   Now wherever you go the view is somewhat marred by these monstrosities.  However this does mean relatively cheap prices for a fairly central location. 

looks like a quaint Parisian residential street, but there are those flats in the background again.

Looks like a quaint Parisian residential street, but there are those flats in the background again.

The area is home to Paris’s Chinatown (actually more of an ‘Asiatic quarter’ rather than exclusively Chinese but known as Chinatown all the same).

It is, apparently, the biggest Chinatown in Europe consisting of a triangle of restaurants and Asian supermarkets, plus an indoor market called Olympiades selling no end of tat that wouldn’t look out of place in China, Thailand or Indonesia.  Good for a browse and a spot of people-watching.

Chinese Notre Dame church, and there are the tower blocks lurking behind again

Chinese Notre Dame church, and there are the tower blocks lurking behind again

I ate in a Vietnamese restaurant on Avenue de Choisy.  I wouldn’t recommend it.  The food was good but the waiter was rude and surly.  I didn’t leave a tip; I’ve only recently graduated to being able to do this when waiters are rude and I feel quite proud of this achievement.

Arrondissement 13 also contains the Butte aux Cailles, the one part not bulldozed to make room for the tower blocks (apparently the foundations here aren’t solid enough to support the high-rises).

It’s a nice area with some interesting architecture and a couple of streets of bars and restaurants, but really an hour or so is enough for it.

It is, I am told, ‘up and coming’.  People priced out of other parts of Paris, particularly writers and artists, are moving to Butte Aux Cailles to find their little pied-a-terres.  It will be interesting to see how it develops over the next few years.  Will Butte Aux Cailles become the new, more affordable Montmartre?

Hmm.

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There is a street market opposite Corvisart metro station on Blvd Auguste Blanqui.  This happens on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

22 replies »

  1. Brilliant From: The Mad Woman in the Attic To: chrissiestrick@yahoo.com.au Sent: Friday, 10 October 2014, 23:05 Subject: [New post] Paris Arrondissement 13 #yiv4380998199 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4380998199 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4380998199 a.yiv4380998199primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4380998199 a.yiv4380998199primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4380998199 a.yiv4380998199primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4380998199 a.yiv4380998199primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4380998199 WordPress.com | Sarah M posted: “I made another little trip to Paris this week.  What can I tell you?  Life is tough.This time, however, I decided to do something different and found a place to stay in Arrondissement 13. It’s not a part of Paris I know well (or actually, know at ” | |

  2. I really like this post because it’s not the conventional recommendation for Paris visitors! I didn’t even know there was a Chinatown. I’ll be sure to take you up on your recommendation.

    • Well it doesn’t hold up so well to the more tourist orientated parts of Paris, but it is a lot cheaper. I had this weird thing about staying in every arrondissement in Paris and I’m a bit of a completist.

  3. If that’s where the writers and artists hang out, that’s where I need to be. Looks like a lovely little neighborhood. Lots of things to do as well. very nice.

    • Well I think Montmartre is still the place to go for writers/artists, but few can afford the prices there anymore. There are limited affordable places left in Paris and this is one of them and anywhere cheap is going to encourage artistic types.

  4. I like the artwork painted on the buildings. I’ve never heard of Arrondissement 13 but From your pictures, I would have to agree that the buildings ruin the views and architecture you would expect being so close to Paris. Some China Town Markets are really great, I wouldn’t have expected rude service, usually the Asian markets they are so nice!

    • Maybe it’s the french influence that makes these people a little rude and arrogant. It’s no big deal, but I felt so guilty afterwards for not leaving a tip, even though he was really rude.

    • Most big cities have a little Chinatown somewhere, but sometimes it’s just 1 or 2 streets. It’s an interesting part of Paris but it isn’t as pretty as other parts. Supposed to be up and coming though. We shall see.

  5. Sometimes is great to know other parts of the city, besides the touristic ones, you can see how people really live. Remember this post if Butte Aux Cailles becomes chic in few years 🙂

  6. Wow, I have never heard of this area. How interesting that it is so neglected. I imagine it will be somewhere like Shoreditch in London, which twenty years ago was very neglected and grimy and now is ‘the’ place to be. Was the transport still okay?
    Thanks for sharing, I will keep this area in mind next time I visit, keep the costs down.

    • Yes the difference between Paris and London is that Paris has the periphery road, which sets its boundaries. So whilst London can expand outwards Paris is limited to the space it has. So it’s hard to find a place in Paris that hasn’t been developed and places like this that seem relatively ugly are all they have left.
      I can’t see it as a Parisian Shoreditch, mainly because of the awful high-rises, but it is interesting that there have been some artistic types taking an interest, maybe because it’s all they can afford. It’s still pretty central with 2-3 metro stops nearby.

  7. Well, for starters, I didn’t know a Parisan Chinatown even existed. Whenever I go to a cold country (going to Paris in December), I crave for a nice bowl of Chinese soup. So atleast now, I know where to go. The artwork seems pretty interesting too. Definitely something I’d like to check out when I’m in Paris.

  8. I had no idea that Paris had a Chinatown but it definitely sounds like it’s worth checking out. I like to see parts of the city that other tourists don’t usually visit. Good to know that the accommodation is slightly cheaper too!

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