It’s incredible how sometimes the large and ugly stands next to the small and cosy. But yet this is the case in Place des Fêtes’s area, near Buttes Chaumont park: right behind the five huge blocks of concrete which host a rather poor population, about 20 villas (here, villa = alley, lane) concentrated around Rue de Mouzaïa, constitute one of the most charming residential areas within Paris’s boundaries.
Also known as “Carrières d’Amérique” – an urban legend mentions that the plaster produced from old gypsum quarries (= carrières) was sent to America and used in the White House construction… – this area has a deep working class background. Back in the 19th century, this area was part of the East suburban industrial neighbourhoods, and this sloping site (unstable because of quarry exploitation) could only host fragile two-floored constructions.
More than a century later though, it surely is one of the most picturesque and intimate areas of intra muros Paris, which will ravish not only flower enthusiasts but also cat lovers: cats are indeed the real sovereigns of the villas, and as a poetic homage to their feline fellows, some of their owners have put funny signs on their door (many of them in Villa Sadi Carnot) such as “chat gentil” (= friendly cat), “chat lunatique” (= quirky cat) or “attenti ai gatti” (Italian for “beware of the cats”). A delicate warning, isn’t it?