When you visit a city like Paris, it’s hard to imagine that there might be places resembling little rural villages, right here in the heart of the city. Today, we will share with you a guide to four neighborhoods, so you can get away to the countryside without leaving the capital !
Do we still need to introduce Montmartre, a must-visit gastronomic and cultural district of Paris?
To visit the neighborhood, just take the Metro to Anvers or Barbes-Rochechouart. Take the Rue d’Orsel, and in just a two minute walk, you will find yourself in front of Marché Saint-Pierre, the largest collection of shops dedicated to fabrics in the Paris area, a real institution. Just a few steps further and you are at the entrance to Louise Michel Square. Enjoy the scenery and climb the steps that will lead you to the Sacré Cœur Basilica.
If the 222 steps scare you, the funicular is located next to the square and will take you to the same place, but without the effort! It’s impossible to skip stopping to visit this magnificent Basilica, which offers a panoramic view of the city.
You will now be just steps from the famous Place du Tertre, a place of worship for painters of all kinds, plunging back you into the 1920s and a must-see despite the throngs of tourists. As you leaving the Place du Tertre, it’s quite natural to take the Rue Lepic down, for a stop at the Café des 2 Moulins, the famous café from film Amélie, and then you’ll arrive at the Montmartre Cemetery.
However, to avoid the crowds, you can branch off down the little Rue des Saules where you’ll find the vineyards of Montmartre, in the heart of the city!
Get back to Parisian life as you pass the must-see Moulin Rouge.
2. La Butte aux Cailles
Originally, this charming hill (or Butte) located in the 13th arrondissement was covered with meadows, windmills, and vineyards. It still retains its village-like feel in the modern city.
The Butte has the distinction of getting its water from an artesian well, which supplies very pure spring water. You absolutely must stop by and check out the Place Paul Verlaine, a village-like square which has a fountain supplied by an artesian well, where neighborhood residents regularly come to get water.
To reach it, go down the lovely cobblestone streets Rue Paulin Mery and Rue Gérard, instantly plunging you back into the atmosphere of a village of yesteryear. Take a break in Henri Rousselles Square before going to see the beautiful Church of St. Anne. Continue making your way down the Rue de la Butte aux Cailles, very lively street with many bars / restaurants and landmark for street art, finally coming the pretty Place de la Commune de Paris and its Wallace fountain. For art lovers, the area is also full of little galleries.
You can’t leave the Butte aux Cailles without checking out the Rue Daviel, a street home to what’s known as “Little Alsace”; a set of 40 half-timbered brick workers’ homes gathered around a central courtyard, incredible scenery in the countryside of the Butte aux Cailles neighborhood.
And if that’s not enough, the charming Parc Montsouris is not too far away to take advantage of the quiet of the neighborhood, in a bucolic, relaxing setting.
3. L’Ancien village de Charonne
Less well-known but equally charming, the former village of Charonne is an actual little town right in the middle of the 20th arrondissement of Paris.
When you enter this pastoral neighborhood from the Porte de Bagnolet metro station, you are quickly transported outside the city: take the charming little cobblestone streets surrounded by old stone or brick houses, previously belonging to the workers who toiled in the nearby gypsum quarries.
Not far away, you can visit Edith Piaf square, where a small bronze statue pays tribute to “La Môme (the Waif).”
Then, cross to the other side of the Rue Belgrand, to reach the Debrousse gardens, which house the elegant mansion, the Pavillon de l’Ermitage, a Rococo relic of the eighteenth century, and open to the public. Exit the gardens by the Rue des Balkans, to appreciate the tranquility of the lovely Square des Grès. The scenery continues when you take the Rue Saint-Blaise, at the end of which is the church of Saint-Germain de Charonne, built in the twelfth century, with its belfry and its own country cemetery, quite a rarity today.
Now it’s time for the mandatory visit to Père Lachaise Cemetery, final resting place to many famous people, such as Jim Morrison or Edith Piaf.
To complete the enchantment, you can enter the Natural Garden which is located at the entrance to the cemetery, designed by landscapers who wanted to restore the biodiversity of the region, a true haven of peace in bustling Paris.
4. Le Village de Saint-Paul
The old village of Saint-Paul is a genuine little village lying at the heart of the Marais, a must-visit Parisian neighborhood, between the Rue St. Antoine and the Seine.
The neighborhood was revived by its renovation in 1979, with the creation of 80 commercial premises in addition to the existing businesses: thus it is filled mostly with antiques dealers, second-hand merchants and design stores, so it’s the perfect place to treasure hunt in a pleasant setting.
Take a stop by the charming Place des Vosges situated nearby, now once again the heart of the Marais, formerly a royal square and place of elegance and festivities, until the storming of the Bastille, that is.
This village is actually a very pleasant pedestrian maze, accessible through arcaded passages near the beautiful Saint-Paul church, built in the eighteenth century by order of Louis XIII. In the area, you will come across lots of little shopping streets with fashion boutiques, trendy bars, and restaurants with a village feel.
In the neighborhood, you can also see the vestiges of the Philippe Auguste wall, which marked the city limit from the eleventh and sixteenth centuries.
You absolutely must stop by for a tour around this charming neighborhood filled with small shops.