A day at La Butte aux cailles by Esprit de France

Nature | Outings
La Butte aux cailles par Esprit de France
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A country atmosphere in Paris…

The Butte aux Cailles is one of those neighborhoods in Paris that have managed to retain a village soul. Do you know that it is named after Pierre Caille who bought this little hill in 1543? Often little known to tourists, it is ideal for strolling round. Here, there are no Haussmanian buildings or large avenues, but charming little houses and cobbled streets.

In the 16th century, the Butte aux Cailles was a hill still covered with meadows and windmills overlooking a river, the Bièvre. But from the following century on, it became populated with tradesmen working with the water of the river: dyers, tanners, linen maids, ragpickers, not to mention the exploitation of limestone quarries and their workers. In the nineteenth century, the Bièvre became, because of these polluting activities, an open sewer and it was decided to cover it. At the same time, in 1860, the territory was integrated in Paris, but it remained untouched by the major works Baron Haussmann undertook in the capital since the land could not support high and heavy buildings because of the old quarries that had weakened the ground. That's why the Butte has continued its development away from the capital's urban policies and has kept very picturesque aspects including its typical bistros, Le temps des Cerises, L’Oiseau Moqueur or La Folie en tête. However, the calm that reigns here today contrasts with the hustle and bustle that the Butte aux Cailles experienced in the past. Let us not forget that this district was indeed the theater of barricades at the time of the Commune of Paris in 1871, which have left historical and bloody memories.

Your walk will start with one of the three typical cobbled streets of this village district, Rue Alphand, Passage Barrault or Passage Sigaud. Then rue Daviel, at number 10, you will discover a garden city made of about forty half-timbered semi-detached houses with very steep roofs, hence their name of Petite Alsace. Organized around terraces and lawns with trees, they give off as much charm as modesty. In front, opens the Villa Daviel which is a pretty lane lined with maisonettes of the early twentieth century with pretty flower gardens. Continue your journey admiring all the street art works that decorate the streets, including those by Miss Tic with its silhouettes of femme fatales. And why not relax, place Paul Verlaine, at the "art-deco" swimming pool -listed historical monument- which has a pool outside for sunny days?