Guide Tour of Butte-aux-Cailles, Paris, France

The 13th arrondissement is full of historic and hidden places. The Butte-aux-Cailles, which means “quail hill”, although it originates from its former landowner Pierre Caille, who bought a vineyard here in 1543. A now extinct Bièvre river,once made this area important for the tannery and tissue trades. Since its incorporation into Paris, the Butte-aux-Cailles has managed to retain much of its village ambiance.

Butte -aux-Cailles was a former working-class district that has become trendy. The bucolic Butte-aux-Cailles deserves to be lost in its cobbled streets, its secret green alleys and its picturesque passages to soak up its rural and peaceful atmosphere. Today the Butte-aux-Cailles area assembles a young, trendy and festive Parisian population in its many small bars and restaurants.

Along the old route of the Bièvre, discover a Paris with village accents, through picturesque alleys and old factories. The Butte aux Cailles is a countryside in the heart of the capital, ideal for strolling, undoubtedly one of the most charming corners of all of Paris. Its village-like appearance, its small houses, its cobbled streets, its lively bars, its colorful storefronts, its street-art…

From the 14th century, the district became the center of Parisian manufacturing thanks to the waterways of the Bièvre which then criss-crossed the south of the capital. Stroll around the route of the Bièvre river, from the Manufacture des Gobelins to Petite Alsace via the preserved district of Butte aux Cailles, take the typical alleys sometimes flowery, sometimes decorated with street art and enjoy a moment steeped in history.

La Butte aux Cailles is also picturesque streets preserved from major Parisian works. More and more guides recommend this area for its village atmosphere with cobbled streets, small parks and sunny terraces, also because of its many restaurants and cafes. Its underground quarries made it a fragile territory that modernization projects like those of Baron Haussmann preferred to avoid. Stroll through its cobbled streets with village charm, Old workshops, workers’ houses and flower gardens dot the walk.

Main Attractions
From Rue Daviel, there are full of art-nouveau houses, explore the adjoining Villa Daviel and nearby streets for quaint examples of art-nouveau architecture. Stroll down the adjacent narrow streets and passages with no definite endpoint in mind. Embrace the spirit of a Parisian flâneur/flâneuse. Follow the colourful trail of street art and discover yet another silent, cobbled street in Paris.

Place Paul Verlaine square features a decorative 19th-century well sourcing natural spring water. Visitors can fill bottles with the very-drinkable water, which is used to fill the art-nouveau style swimming pool just behind the well.

Rue du Moulins-des-Près is a collection of stone houses with facades decorated with bricks and mosaics. Villa Daviel and Square des Peupliers follow one another pavilions in brick or millstone with abundantly flowered gardens.

Rue Dieulafoy offers a beautiful perspective on elegant townhouses with pastel facades, while the Cité Florale, each street of which evokes a flower (rue des Glycines, rue des Orchidées, rue des Iris, rue des Liserons, rue des Volubilis…) is home to colorful little houses with charming gardens.

At 10th rue Daviel you can see the Petite Alsacewhich is a working-class town with half-timbered houses and pointed gables, inspired by Alsatian dwellings. Place Paul Verlaine, the swimming pool of the Butte-aux-Cailles in red brick and in the art deco style, classified as a Historic Monument, is one of the oldest swimming pools in the capital.

Télécom ParisTech (formerly École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications), which occupies the space between rue Barrault, rue Vergniaud, rue Tolbiac and rue Daviel, on the western slope. At the time of the École Supérieure des Postes & Télégraphes (ESPT), in 1934 it joined the premises vacated by the Noblet glove factory, as evidenced by the logo consisting of an N and two Cs inverted several times repeated on the facade of Barrault street.

On the main facade, at No.46 rue Barrault, there is a bas-relief dated 1962 and due to the sculptor Félix Joffre (1903-1989) and the architect Marcel Chappey. It bears the following inscription: Man throughout the ages uses the elementary forces for transmissions. Six characters each symbolically use a form of transmission at a distance: sight, carrier pigeons, a trumpet, fire—probably in the form of smoke signals—clapping the hands and shouting.

Two steps away, still on the main facade, at no.42, another smaller bas-relief, by the same sculptor, bears the inscription “From the earth to the cosmos” and represents footprints humans as well as several stars.

On rue Daviel there is Alsacian Villa, with little Alsace and Russia are worker’s villas built to resemble traditional buildings in Northern France and Russia. The interior courtyards are open to the public during the day.

Streets and Via
Wander down the narrow cobbled street, when classic street lamps and pastel shades of shutters line the street, feels like stepped away from Paris and into a Provence village that has existed for centuries.

Rue de la Butte aux Cailles – Pretty and cutting its way through the micro-arrondissement, Rue de la Butte aux Cailles follows the crescent of the hill. In the daytime, the street is rather quiet, while during the evening it becomes a hive of activity. After dark, the place really comes to life when all of the bars and restaurants which line its two sides open for business late into the night…

Rue Daviel – Wander down Rue Daviel to find the chalet-style houses built in the Alsace style.Away from all the Hausmmannian architecture that’s so synonymous with Paris, there are a number of villas constructed in the Alsacian style. “Little Alsace” built in 1913 were originally workers’ homes. Try the gate and enter the courtyard to see the terraces and flowers in this tranquil oasis in la Butte aux Cailles, Paris. Right across from “Little Alsace” is Villa Daviel. Homes with small front gardens laden with greenery and flowers line the street.

Place Paul Verlaine – While not technically a street, the pretty square reminds you of a central village space in the South of France. The fountain in the centre of the square was once home to a spring where locals would draw water straight from a natural well as early as the 20th century.

Rue Michal – This quaint and secluded street is the perfect place to capture stunning photographs of the church’s dome, as well as to enjoy a quiet place to rest, away from the hustle and bustle of busy city life.

Rue des Cinq Diamants – Literally translated as ‘the road of five diamonds’, the road contains plenty of 19th-century houses. Though Butte aux Cailles may have little by way of attractions, Rue des Cinq Diamants is a sweet street where you can enjoy plenty of Miss. Tic’s artworks. At No. 10, you’ll find the ‘Theatre of Five Diamonds’.

Street art
Many galleries such as La Fab. d’Agnès B., Yellow Cube Gallery, Itinerrance, Mathgoth, le Lavo//Matik or even L’Aiguillage exhibit the creations of French and international urban or contemporary art artists. Les Frigos installed in a former refrigerated building concentrates 87 workshops of painters, sculptors, photographers, stylists… The open days organized once a year allow you to discover this unique place of creation. Installed in the former Halle aux Farines, Bétonsalon is a contemporary art and research centerwhere artists, scientists, architects, sociologists and many other stakeholders express themselves through a varied artistic program.

Rue de la Butte aux Cailles and Rue des Cinq Diamants is the center of dining, shopping and nightlife in the neighborhood.

Reputedly one of the best restaurants in the area, Chez Gladines (30 Rue des Cinq Diamants) is open on a daily basis for both lunch and evening meals, specialising in Basque dishes. Chez Gladines serves up hearty Basque fair at very reasonable prices. The convivial, cheery atmosphere is a real boon, too.

Right across the street from Chez Gladines, Le temps des Cerises is a quirky restaurant with a vaguely Spanish theme serves delicious, reasonably-priced favorites including steamed mussels. Wine is very decent and not too expensive.

L’Oisive Thé: An intimate little tearoom at 8 Rue de la Butte aux Cailles that plays on the French word for laziness/listlessness (l’oisiveté) and tea (thé). An ideal spot for a mellow afternoon reading or chatting.

In Butte Aux Cailles, along it’s main street, there’s even a shop by the name of Les Abeilles (literally ‘the bees’). It’s the only store in Paris to specialise specifically in all things bee related.

La Cave du Moulin Vieux, a wine cellar opened in 1981 and specialises in incredible wines from across France and beyond. Open on a daily basis, ‘The Old Mill Cellar’ is a trip around the world in countless wines.

The Butte is home to oodles of quirky and vintage shops, making it the perfect place to go shopping for unusual wares. No chain stores can be found here. Instead, treasures such as Murano glass, old postcards, vintage clothing and more can all be found on a perusal through the many stores dotted throughout Butte-aux-Cailles.