The Butte aux Cailles is one of the most picturesque parts of Paris. Once a village on the outskirts of the city, with the river Bievre (now filled in) running through it and surrounded by windmills, it housed workers employed in the industries that grew up around the river – mainly tanners and laundries. It’s located in the 13th arrondissement in the south of the city, and a walk around the pretty streets can feel like taking a stroll though a small country town.
The area really feels special in the city. It’s located at the top of a small hill, and does not have a supermarket or any chain stores. The streets are narrow and often cobbled, the area was spared the modernisation under Haussmann that changed so much of the rest of the city, and you’ll find individual houses up here with their own gardens, something extremely rare in Paris. In the spring the wisteria and blossoms fill the streets with colour and the air with perfume. Several artists now have their studios here, and the once modest area is now seeing real estate prices rise faster than almost any other part of the city.
A walk around the Butte aux Cailles is a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon. There are plenty of cafés and small restaurants, lots of street art, and one of the oldest and most beautiful swimming pools in Paris, the Piscine de la Butte aux Cailles– built in 1924 it has both and indoor and outdoor pools.
Take a look at the drinking water fountain on Place Paul Verlaine, the small square in front of the swimming pool. It dispenses mineral water from an artesian well and you can often see locals filling up their bottles from it. The swimming pool also uses this water – the original Bains Douches built in 1908 used hot water also from the springs and the outdoor pools are still filled with this warm water.
Take the metro to Glacière or Corvisart and walk up the hill. The main heart of the area is the rue de la Butte aux Cailles, this street is picturesque during the day and a lively and fun place to have a drink or dinner in the evenings. Whatever the weather or the time of day, the Butte aux Cailles is one of the most charming areas in Paris.
- Metro Glacière or Corvisart. 75013 Paris.