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.
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.
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?