Guide Tour of the 20th arrondissement of Paris, France

The 20th arrondissement is the last of the twenty arrondissements of Paris. It is characterized in particular by a very large number of theaters and café-theatres. The 20th arrondissement is also internationally known for the Père Lachaise Cemetery where one can find the tombs of many famous artists. This relatively gritty area is also full of a main nightlife for travellers who are interested in music and culture. There are nightclubs and cafés specializing in everything in the neighbourhood.

The 20th arrondissement is a district that authentic and full of charm, which do not resemble nothing like the usual Paris of postcards. Greenery and color more than elsewhere, an exotic landscape, a permanent cultural imprints. Narrow and flowery streets, cobblestones on the ground, artists’ studios, colorful houses, greenery… The district also has the heights to overlooking the main attractions of downtown Paris, the panoramas that can be seen from the Eiffel Tower, the Montparnasse tower and the Concorde Ferris wheel.

The arrondissement’s whole contributes to creating a lively, popular and friendly district. The 20th arrondissement represents an old working-class area now in rapid transformation. This arrondissement also a settlement of immigrants. However, its sociological profile is changing very quickly with the arrival in number of a population of young “trendy” and well-to-do bourgeois urbanites.

In the 20th arrondissement, cultural life is richer and more diversified than elsewhere. The many performance halls, concerts, theatres, street art, graffiti, hip-hop culture… Special mention for the small rue Dénoyez, undoubtedly the most colorful in Paris thanks to the many works of street art that cover the walls.

The 20th arrondissement lies to the east of the centre, located on the right bank of the Seine, it is bordered to the north by the 19th arrondissement, to the east by the municipalities of Lilas, Bagnolet, Montreuil and Saint-Mandé, to the south by the 12th arrondissement, to West by 11th.

It is bounded to the south by the cours de Vincennes, to the west by the boulevards de Charonne, de Ménilmontant and de Belleville corresponding to the former limits of the wall of the Farmers General, to the north by the rue de Belleville and the avenue de la Porte -des-Lilas and to the east by the streets of Frères-Flavien, Évariste-Galois, Pierre-Soulié, Jean-Jaurès, avenues of Professor-André-Lemierre, Benoît-Frachon, Léon-Gaumont, rue du Commandant-L ‘Herminier and the avenue de la Porte-de-Vincennes.

The 20th arrondissement was created in 1859, under the Second Empire, by the annexation to Paris of part of the former commune of Belleville located south of rue de Belleville, Ménilmontant included, a small part of the commune of Saint-Mandé and almost all of the former commune of Charonne. The 20th arrondissement annexation of several communes bordering Paris which give name to the different districts of the arrondissement.

Belleville district – This is a historic Jewish and Kabyle district of Algeria since 1945. When the Algerians came to France, they were French, the majority of businesses were run by Kabyles. Since the 2000s, new immigrants have been Chinese. They arrive en masse and buy commercial premises. A lot of animation and life in the steeply sloping streets.

Quartier St Fargeau – This is the most chic district of the 20th century, but just as pleasant, with its many shops.

Père Lachaise District (Père-Lachaise Cemetery) – On its northern part, near the Belleville district, we find Ménilmontant, also a former commune annexed by Paris, whose atmosphere is reminiscent of its neighbor Belleville. Further south, pedestrian streets surround the Père Lachaise cemetery, a real green lung of Paris.

Main Attractions
The 20th arrondissement is full of architectural heritage that offer real places of cultural expression.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery
The Père-Lachaise cemetery is the largest intramural Parisian cemetery and one of the most famous in the world. It brings together many French and foreign personalities such as Molière, Jean de la Fontaine, Parmentier, Colette, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrisson, etc. It welcomes more than three and a half million visitors each year, which makes it the most visited cemetery in the world.

Opened in 1804, the Père-Lachaise cemetery covers 42 hectares and is the largest cemetery in Paris. the Père Lachaise cemetery was designed as an English garden by the architect Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart. A portion of its wall, the Mur des Fédérés, pays homage to the communards who were shot there, a symbol of the struggle for freedom and for all forms of resistance.

The cemetery is huge and it’s easy to get lost, it is possible to buy a map at the entrance. Although it has become a major tourist spot in Paris, Père-Lachaise remains an active cemetery in which many funeral operations and commemorative ceremonies take place each year.

Church of Our Lady of the Cross of Ménilmontant
The Notre-Dame-de-la-Croix church is a Catholic building that is located in the Ménilmontant district of the 20th arrondissement of Paris. This vast church (97 meters long, 38 meters wide, 20 meters high under the vault of the nave) combines neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic elements. It is also noted for its 78 meter high bell tower as well as for its monumental staircase which precedes its facade. It is one of the largest churches in Paris (the fourth by volume) and has been listed as a Historic Monument since 2017.

The architecture of this church is inspired by Romanesque and Gothic models, based around a very elongated plan and a fairly narrow central nave. The current church was designed during the reign of Napoleon III, by the architect Louis-Jean-Antoine Héret (1821-1899) in a neo-Romanesque style. It is built on the steep slope of the hill of Ménilmontant, which required the construction of a porch of 54 steps in order to make up for the difference in level between the square where the facade and the apse are located.

It has a very large surface of slate roofs. Part of the lower copper covers are original. They are supported by wooden frames, but the attic of the church also has metal beams completing the cast iron ribs visible under the vaults of the nave. Héret therefore built a building of traditional design, but was able to add a modern and audacious metal structure for the time, to support the vaults.

Among the older paintings are the Martyrdom of a Pope (1620) by Alexandre Durant and The Death of Joseph by Jean-Jacques Lagrenée. The other paintings mostly date from the time of the inauguration of the church. They are the work of painters Jules Louis Machard, Xavier-Alphonse Monchablon, Pierre Claude François Delorme (Jesus in Limbo), Jean-Pierre Granger (Jesus Healing the Sick) and Albert Chanot (The Last Judgment).

Church of St. Germain de Charonne
The Church of Saint-Germain de Charonne a religious building in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. This church is located at No. 4, Place Saint-Blaise in the Père-Lachaise district on the edge of the Charonne district. It is the only church in Paris with the Saint-Pierre de Montmartre church to still be bordered by its old cemetery (as in the Middle Ages), the cemetery of Charonne. The church has been classified as a historic monument since 23 May 1923.

In Gothic style, this small village church dating from the 12th century takes walkers back in time. The church of Saint-Germain de Charonne harmoniously combines some vestiges of the 12th century (large pillars of the tower) with elegant architecture, mainly from the 15th and 18th centuries. Before 1860, date of attachment to Paris, it was the parish church of the former village of Charonne, of which it constituted the heart with the rue Saint-Blaise.

This church became famous in the last scene of the film Les Tontons flingueurs, the wedding, where we see the environment (the Saint-Blaise district) as well as the interior of the church, in the scene from the kneeling uncles we can see in the background the left part of the painting by Joseph-Benoît Suvée: The Meeting of Saint Germain and Saint Geneviève. Saint-Germain de Charonne can also be seen in the comic strip album Le der des ders by Jacques Tardi and Didier Daeninckx, pages 53 and 54, published by Casterman.

Baudouin Square Pavilion
The Pavillon Carré de Baudouin is an 18th century building located rue de Ménilmontant in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, which was converted into a cultural space open to the public in June 2007. The venue is managed by the City of Paris and the City Hall of the 20th arrondissement of Paris.

The pavilion, known as Pompadour, is a pleasure house, a madness, built in the 18th century as a place of pleasure and vacation. One of the first owners, Nicolas Carré de Baudouin, inherited it in 1770, and asked Pierre-Louis Moreau-Desproux, who was Master of the buildings of the city of Paris, to add a Palladian facade in peristyle with four columns. ionic style.

In 2005, the 1,800 m 2 Carré-de-Baudouin garden was opened to the public and, in 2007, the pavilion, which until then had been hidden from public view, was opened in turn. It offers various facilities dedicated to art and culture over 815 m2: an auditorium, exhibition rooms, offices for associations, a House of secularism, etc. The set forms the corner between rue des Pyrénées and rue de Ménilmontant, accessible by number 121 of the latter.

The surrounding wall of the garden is the subject of an artistic program devoted to urban art. In addition to the exhibitions, the Pavillon Carré de Baudouin hosts a popular university, the Invitations to Arts and Knowledge.

Campaign in Paris Rue Irénée Blanc(Porte de Bagnolet)
Created in about twenty years at the beginning of the 20th century, this islet, located on former underground quarries and made up of half a dozen pretty alleys, was originally organized as a cooperative. It allowed the working class to access a hundred pavilions built especially for them and offered at affordable prices. Today, this district located not far from the Porte de Bagnolet has become gentrified. It is one of the most pleasant in the capital for an exotic stroll.

To access this small village located in the former town of Charonne, you have two options: take one of the many stairs that surround it or take rue Pierre Mouillard, the only access road for residents who come by car.. Once at the top, you will discover a unique atmosphere in Paris: cobbled streets, small brick or millstone houses, flowered and green gardens, stairs of which only the north of the capital has the secret. Hard to believe we’re in the heart of 20th arrondissement.

Other attractions
After having been an underground performance hall, the mythical Flèche d’Or installed in the former Charonne station on the edge of the Petite Ceinture is today a militant and inclusive place, by and for queer and minority people.

A stone’s throw from Boulevard Davout, at the end of the Hospice Debrousse garden, sits the Ermitage pavilion. The only Regency-style madness in Paris, it is the last preserved element of the Bagnolet estate, property of the Duchess of Orléans. Guided tours and temporary exhibitions are regularly offered.

Founded in 1988, the national theater La Colline gives pride of place to contemporary and modern theatrical writing. Designed by architects Valentin Fabre and Jean Perrotet, it has a glass facade, a symbol of its openness to a multicultural district.

Rue du Retrait, a real open- air museum, is teeming with collages and creations by urban artists such as Jérôme Mesnager and Fred le Chevalier. In the narrow Rue Laurence Savart, works by Mosko can also be seen. On the Belleville side, rue de Tourtille presents several street art frescoes by Enersto Novo, Seize Happywallmaker and Namasté. The Willy Ronis belvedere in Belleville Park, meanwhile, is adorned with the works of the artist Seth.

Close to the Villa de l’Ermitage, the former Biscuiterie Brun has been transformed into a concert hall: the Studio de l’Ermitage, dedicated to jazz and world music.

Not far from there, La Bellevilloise and La Maroquinerie also testify to a popular past. La Bellevilloise is a former workers’ cooperative (1877) that has become a place of culture, independent and multidisciplinary. Just as original, the Maroquinerie is a former leather workshop converted into a concert hall, with a very convivial interior terrace.

At the corner of rue des Pyrénées and rue de Ménilmontant, the Carré Baudouin pavilion is defined as a place of culture, popular and open to all. It boasts a demanding program that is totally free, with exhibitions, conferences and even an urban art wall.

In the four corners of the 20th arrondissement there is a small village atmosphere. In the heart of the Charonne district, rue des Vignoles is dotted with about fifteen narrow and winding dead ends, dating from the 19th century. The impasse Casteggio, the impasse des Souhaits, the impasse Poule… are the vestiges of the old suburbs.

In the district of Saint Fargeau, the Villa du Borrégo dating from 1909 also retains some vestiges of working-class housing: red bricks, wrought iron balconies, facades covered with ivy. Barely 52 meters long, it ends in a dead end at the foot of a steep staircase.

Three other picturesque addresses to discover: the charming passage of the Villa de l’Ermitage is full of artists’ studios and beautiful pavilions. Cité Leroy, a maze of small motley houses give the place a postcard look. Finally, the Cité de l’Ermitage is a pleasant rural island with a working-class past.

Natural areas
The 20th arrondissement of the capital has managed to preserve the popular atmosphere and the green setting of the small villages that once made it up. Its unsuspected heritage, which has become a refuge for biodiversity, is a source of inspiration for artists and for all Parisians. Ecologically committed, the 20th arrondissement contributes daily to the enrichment of urban biodiversity and the natural heritage of Paris.

On the edge of the Père Lachaise cemetery, a veritable reservoir of biodiversity, the Pierre Emmanuel Natural Garden is a haven of wild greenery, far from the beaten track. It reconstructs the natural environment that existed in Paris. A hundred native plants and a pretty pond provide a change of scenery for all walkers.

Perched on a hill, the Parc de Belleville culminates at an altitude of more than 100 meters and reveals a breathtaking panorama over all of Paris. This huge green space is home to magnificent trees: oaks, lime trees, apple trees, Mexican orange trees.

The Charonne farm is an agro-ecological farm, which cultivates micro-greens, herbs and edible flowers. On the roof of the Flora Tristan college, an educational urban farm raises awareness among young people about the environmental challenges of tomorrow.

The Jardin Suspendu accessible via the Square Antoine Blondin is an atypical permaculture rooftop to reconnect with nature. At the corner of rue de Belleville and rue du Télégraphe, an incredible field of flowers. The first urban floral farm in the capital, where more than 200 species of flowers are grown, according to the principles of biodynamics.

On the edge of the ring road, Emmanuel Fleury Square is a breath of fresh air, with its flower beds, flowering cherry trees and Bolleana poplars. The Shared Haies shared gardens (Casque d’Or garden) and the Yvonne Godard swimming pool, with its solarium surrounded by green spaces, are also fine examples of the protection of Parisian biodiversity.