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being quiet, but not blind on butte aux cailles

Eiffel Tower ✔︎  Louvre ✔︎  Buttes aux Cailles  Notre-Dame ✔︎  Musée d’Orsay ✔︎  Butte aux Cailles  Jardin du Luxembourg ✔︎  Butte aux Cailles.

The Butte aux Cailles will not be on most tourists’ check lists.  I would be surprised if a Frommer’s Travel Guide or a Rick Steves Paris assigned it any stars as a “must see sight.”  One will visit Paris several times before thinking of the small hill off the Place d’Italie in the 13th arrondissement.

I like the neighborhood because I am sometimes looking for peaceful streets in a large, busy city; I want to eat a good, reliable meal; and I am always surprised by the wall art I find there.

Arriving at the Place d’Italie, a large bustling space, cars and busses are seen racing along the streets and through the intersection.  It is a major metro stop so many people are coming and going on the streets as well.

But walking up rue Babillot from the Place to the intersection with rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles and veering onto the street, one finds a quiet village atmosphere where the buildings are often only two and three stories high.  This street and rue des Cinq Diamants slice up the Butte from which many smaller streets branch out.

As I mentioned I like looking for the wall art.

Finding something to admire on the Butte is easy.  The temptation is to stay on the two main streets, which I mentioned earlier, but do wander onto some of the smaller, very quiet side streets and you will be pleasantly surprised.

During my most recent visit, this piece was my favorite.  The  artist is clever.  I stood for the photograph so that center of the work would be covered by the lamp post, but the artist had painted a lamp post on the wall.  He or she placed the street lamp in the painting and had most likely anticipated photographs being taken.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

In addition the left side is upside down next to the right side.  Even the bird and the artist’s signature in the corner was painted upside down.

I found another piece by the same artist not far from the previous one.  Here, he used a trompe d’oeil technique to suggest that the girl, who is playing hopscotch, is jumping through the wall.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

The cartoonish dog seems to look at you and say, “Isn’t that amazing!”

Often the wall pieces are funny.  Maybe they are cartoon-like which will make one smile.  Here a boy is asleep on the sidewalk, and the window sill seems to give hime cover.  The little girl to the left has a cat sitting next to her on the ledge.  In the center is a flower pot and a flower.  The colors are vivid and clear.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

My least favorite style are the mosaic, cartoonish, maybe surrealistic images that I see often all over Paris and sometimes in other cities, such as Marseille.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

This painting was very very large.  It covered the entire side of a multi-storied structure that may have been a school.  This image is a small portion of the total painting.

Some suggestions for visiting the Bitte aux Cailles: one online site offers a good walking routeGood Morning Paris the Blog “The Butte aux Cailles: a Must-See Village in Paris.”

These three sites will give you as much information as you will need, and then some: 1) France Today; 2) Le Figaro (in French); 3) Le Bonbon (in French).

I will always eat lunch on the Butte aux Cailles.  Three restaurants have been reliable.  They represent the kinds of meals I enjoy, typically French cuisine in two or three courses.  Except possibly for Auberge de la Butte, all will show up in guide books or are online recommendations: 1) Chez Gladines; 2) Le Temps des Cerises; 3) Auberge de la Butte.   (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

My most recent meal was at Auberge de la Butte where I chose the menu du jour.  I ordered the feuilletté de chèvre et épinards for en entrée, the sardines grillés aux fines herbs for the main course, and for dessert–one should always think about dessert–the tarte aux mirabelles.  Plums are in season at the moment.  I drank rosé wine but had wished I had ordered red.  Un café arrived at the end.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. PresDuLac #

    I love the Butte aux Cailles, the 13eme is one of my favorite parts of the city. I was just watching the Place d’Italie episode (again) of my favorite Paris travel series – Paris Next Stop. It was a Discovery Channel series and it’s available on YouTube. I love street art and *collect* it so I’ll be on the hunt for these pieces on my next trip. Thanks for another wonderful post.

    • I watched the YouTube episode you mentioned. Thank you for the reference. The part concerning the Butte begins around minute 22.


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