Saturday in Belleville
There are so many different neighbourhoods in Paris and each with its own unique characteristics. While the Latin Quarter is well known for its feisty nightlife, Belleville is the multiethnic, beautiful working-class district. The name itself means a beautiful city. And true to that, it is a beautiful, albeit less explored part of Paris.
I had the chance to finally visit it last weekend and it was the perfect way to spend my Saturday. We started off with a big fat brunch at La Fontaine de Belleville, a popular café that serves the most amazing pain perdu (French toasts done in a beautiful way which I don't know how). Unlike many cafes in the city centre, such as La Marais or where most of the monuments are, La Fontaine de Belleville is truly authentic. I believe we were the only foreigners/ non-Parisians there. Thankfully, we finished before the restaurant filled up and got really busy. To help digest and keep our food babies under control, we decided to take a walk in one of the biggest parks in Paris, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, a beautiful public garden in the 19th (Belleview covers areas across both the 19th and 20th arrondissements). We crossed the bridge to get to the viewpoint on top of the mountain. The park seemed to be a prime spot for runners, as you see many of them in their gears, getting their cardio-fix. While I couldn't summon my energy to do the same, I had a great leisurely walk around the park. Near the bottom entrance of the park, you'll find a large pond and many people seated around it for picnics and sunbaths. Despite the sun shining fiercely, the temperature was still on the lower side. Without packing anything for a picnic, we headed to one of the three Rosa Bonheur in Paris, conveniently located in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, near the exit closest to the metro stop, Botzaris. Fancy a more expensive apero, you can find the beautiful Pavillon Puebla on the other side of the park, not far from the metro stop Buttes Chaumont. For a more mid-range dining/ drinking experience within the park, try Le Pavillon du Lac, which is halfway between the other two restaurants mentioned above. All of them has outdoor seating as well as delicately decorated interiors.
I feel that the above paragraph mimics the size of the park perfectly and its spaciousness can be slightly overwhelming. There is, however, a smaller but nonetheless swanky Parc de Belleville just down the road from Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Close to it is the Ateliers d'Artistes de Belleville, a modern art gallery where you can admire the creations of the artists in residence.
Whilst this is not necessarily classified within Belleville, I cannot resist mentioning one of the most beautiful and calm cafés I've ever set foot in, Le Pavillon des Canaux. It is a restaurant, a coffee shop and an event space, where workshops, social events are held regularly. I wrote about it in my article for Wander-lust here.
Despite being a smallish neighbourhood, Belleville has lots to offer and here are just some of the many things you can do and see in one of the most colourful corners in Paris.