Paris hides several areas that feel like you’ve escaped a big city and have landed in a neighbourhood where streets are small and often steep, and where houses are tiny and cute. The Butte aux Cailles, located in the southern 13rth arrondissement, is one of them.
There are reasons why the Butte aux Cailles does not attract the same mass tourism as its famous brother Montmartre, but that’s exactly the point of going there. The neighbourhood, hidden behind large flat blocks surrounding the Place d’Italie is not that large, but the numerous bars and restaurants make up for it. Most of the places have an informal feel, as this is where neighbours meet.
I visit the Butte aux Cailles regularly to work in a café or to go for drinks after my weekly choir rehearsals (yes, I sing…). The bar owners know us and (pretend) they don’t mind when we give a private concert. A classic place is Chez Gladines, a basque restaurant with 5 addresses in Paris. The food-price proportion is excellent but free tables are rare.
Another cute place is L’Oisivithé (1 rue Jean-Marie Jégo), a tea room that sells wool and nice brunches. If you’re up for a swim, go see the historic swimming pool in Art Nouveau style (Place Paul Verlaine).
The Butte aux Cailles also seems to be a favourite spot for street artists. I’m always on the lookout for decorated walls, but lampposts are equally the object of creative spirits.