Guide Tour of the area around Place d’Italie,Paris, France

The Place d’Italie area is the reflection of a new young and accessible Paris. Eclectic and bubbling with culture, it reveals multiple facets. Cosmopolitan, resolutely innovative and dynamic, but also popular. The Place d’Italie is like a large roundabout or intersection in Paris, which has become a major traffic and business area, yet has a lovely green space with a fountain in the middle of it, and numerous restaurants close by.

The Place d’Italie takes its name from its proximity to the Avenue d’Italie, which, traditionally, has been the point of departure on the road that links Paris and Italy, a route now called the RN7 (Route nationale 7). The Place d’Italie, where the principal districts of the arrondissement (Quartier des Gobelins, the Asian quarter, Butte aux Cailles, etc.) converge, is the center of automobile traffic circulation and a crossroads for most of the métro and bus lines in this part of Paris. It is a major crossing-point for those leaving the city for the suburbs (and vice versa) and for those traveling between Montparnasse and the rive droite (right bank).

One of the largest concentrations of Parisian business activity is in the area of the Place d’Italie. The heart of the arrondissement is the Place d’Italie. Circular in shape, it is the meeting point of the main avenues and boulevards of the borough, as well as the metro lines. This is where the districts of the arrondissement meet: Butte-aux-Cailles, Les Gobelins, Asian district. The Paris Rive Gauche area, being built along the Seine.

Around the Place d’Italie area, there is the Quartier Asiatique, contains many high-rise apartment buildings. The Place d’Italie area also hosts the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand and the newly built business district of Paris Rive Gauche. The increasingly rich Parisian culture has gradually filled the streets, such as bourgeois neighbourhoods and gardens, and dazzling graffiti and murals, makes the area full of sence of Parisian life.

The area around Place d’Italie is primarily a residential and business district in the southeast of Paris, on the Left Bank of the Seine. The Paris rive gauche district, the second large-scale urbanism project which will bring a new gradually emerging Paris. To the west of the PRG, along avenue de Tolbiac is the first of these urbanism projects, Les Olympiades, with its raised esplanade and the latest of the Paris Meteor (high-speed metro) stops, Les Olympiades.

The Place d’Italie area is also full of historic and hidden places. Along the old route of the Bièvre, discover a Paris with village accents, through picturesque alleys and old factories. 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.

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… The Chinese community of the Place d’Italie area being numerous. Restaurants, exotic supermarkets, red lanterns… To dive a little deeper into Chinese culture, every year an impressive parade is organized on the occasion of the Chinese New Year.

The charming Cité Fleurie with all the possible and imaginable species of flowers there, but 29 pretty workshops spread over 2000 m2 around a superb central garden. The district is a veritable open-air museum for Street-art, a real curtural journey with monumental frescoes painted on entire walls on many building.

It is a place for nightlife with the restaurants and cinemas of the avenue des Gobelins. One of the most important cinemas in Paris and the largest 35mm screen in the capital, the Gaumont Grand Ecran Italy (now closed), overlooked the square. It can be said that the whole of the Place d’Italie area converges towards the Place d’Italie with the exception of the Paris Rive Gauche district, along the Seine.

Main Attractions
The Place d’Italie area mix with different atmosphere in terms of the architecture of the neighborhoods. Modern architecture near the François Mitterand library, small cobbled streets in the Butte aux Cailles district, a very pleasant stroll along the banks of the Seine, the ambient bustle of Place Italie and its shops.

Place d’Italie
The Place d’Italie was once where there was a wall of the Farmers General, which was a tax enclosure constructed during the reign of King Louis XVI in order to obtain taxes on goods. The location of the Place d’Italie was occupied by a barrier of the Farmers General wall, an enclosure built by the architect Claude Nicolas Ledoux, which separated the communes of Paris and that of Gentilly. The two granting pavilions, burnt down in 1789, were not destroyed until 1877. The annexation of the bordering towns by Paris and the disappearance of the barrier allowed the creation of this place.

There was a major plan put in place in the 1960s to completely redo the area and add high rise buildings, including a skyscraper that would have been taller than the Tour Montparnasse Tower. However, with so much criticism and lack of support, the project was somewhat abandoned. Yet a few new buildings were constructed, which are now home to offices and a shopping centre and there was a cinema here, which is now closed.

But on this square in Paris you will also find the mayors office for the 13th Arrondissement in a lovely architecturally designed building, and in the small area behind there is a sculpture that was produced by Ossip Zadkine. Plus there is a small area outside the shopping centre, which was named Place Henri-Langlois after the gentleman that collected film archives and set up a cinema here. And now through the efforts of Henri Langlois, there is a museum in Paris called the Musee de la Cinematheque, which is located within Parc de Bercy.

The center of the square is devoted to a small green-space. Facing the Avenue d’Italie, there is a monument in memory of the Marshal of France, Alphonse Juin, completed by the architect, Henri Cantie, the sculptor, André Greck, and the foundryman, Daniel Landowski, in 1983. At number 17 on the access road, Rue Godefroy, located between the Boulevard de l’Hôpital and the Boulevard Vincent Auriol, a plaque recalls that the Chinese premier, Chou En-lai lived on this site, then a modest rooming house, during his time in Paris, 1922 to 1924.

In the small garden behind the municipal building for the arrondissement, there is a sculpture, “Return of the Prodigal Son”, executed in 1964 by Ossip Zadkine. The esplanade on the side of the mall nearest the Avenue d’Italie was named Place Henri-Langlois in 1995 to honor Henri Langlois, a French pioneer of the film archive movement.

The Italie 13 project, a grand exercise in urbanism, was conceived in the 1960s, and, under this plan, the Place d’Italie represented the center of a district of high-rise towers stretching out along the entire length of the Avenue d’Italie, with the construction of a truly eye-catching tower, taller than the Montparnasse Tower, called the Apogee Tower, on the Place d’Italie itself.

The project began with the construction, close to the Place d’Italie, of six inter-related towers, each about one hundred metres tall. Some sort of mast or multi-colored campanile, conceived by Kenzo Tange, is now planned for the plot of land originally expected to be used by the Apogee Tower, replaced, since 1992, by a collection of smaller buildings, an office building, a luxury residential building, as well as the famous audio-visual complex, Grand Écran Italie (Big Screen Italy).

Gobelins district
The Gobelins Manufactory is a historic tapestry factory in Paris, France. It is located at 42 avenue des Gobelins, near Les Gobelins métro station in the area around Place d’Italie. It is best known as a royal factory supplying the court of the French monarchs since Louis XIV, and it is now run by the Administration générale du Mobilier national et des Manufactures nationales de tapis et tapisseries of the French Ministry of Culture.

It was originally established on the site as a medieval dyeing business by the family Gobelin. Recognizable thanks to the bas-reliefs of its facade representing weavers, the Manufacture des Gobelins has been producing tapestries for French palaces for more than four centuries. Created in 1601 under the reign of King Henry IV during the rise of Flemish tapestry. The Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins, as well as the corresponding soils, are classified as historical monuments by order of the March 24, 1993.

The manufactures of Gobelins, Beauvais and Savonnerie are three high places of tapestry and carpets in France to which are attached the workshop of Lodève (carpet) and the workshops of Puy (bobbin lace) and Alençon (lace needle). The priorities are the furnishing of state buildings and the continuation of a tradition, with the conservation of ancient techniques and the maintenance of a traditional quality applied to contemporary artistic expressions.

The Galerie des Gobelins is dedicated to temporary exhibitions of tapestries from the French manufactures and furnitures from the Mobilier National, built in the gardens by Auguste Perret in 1937. The gallery, renovated from the end of the 1970s in order to rediscover its original mission as an exhibition space, celebrates its 400th anniversary when it reopens to the public on May 12, 2007.

Official name “Manufacture nationale des Gobelins”, the factory is open for guided tours several afternoons per week by appointment. Managed by National Furniture and the National Carpet and Tapestries Manufactures, which includes the National Furniture, the Gobelins Tapestry Manufacture, the Beauvais Manufacture (workshops located in Paris and Beauvais), the Savonnerie Manufacture (workshops located in Paris and Lodève) as well as the lace workshops in Alençon and Le Puy.

The Mobilier national provides, within its School of Textile Arts, complete initial training in the profession of tapestry or carpet weaver in the Gobelins, Beauvais and Savonnerie factories, and in the profession of tapestry or carpet re-entryer in restoration workshops.

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Butte -aux-Cailles
Butte -aux-Cailles is a district of Paris, 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. 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.

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.

La Butte aux Cailles is also picturesque streets preserved from major Parisian works. 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.

Cultural space
With its many facets and its openness to the most innovative projects, the 13th is a dynamic, booming district. Street art is everywhere in the 13th, in its streets, its main avenues or even on the facades of its buildings. A real open-air museum.

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.

A cultural institution par excellence, the National Library of France has nearly 30 million documents, including 14 million books. Temporary exhibitions, live shows, conferences and readings are organized there throughout the year. Nearby Le Petit Bain, moored at the port of the station, brings together a concert hall, a restaurant and a green terrace on the water. It programs many cultural activities.

The immense esplanade of the National Library of France, the heart of the Paris Rive Gauche district, is a real place of life that concentrates students in a hurry, young skateboarders or dynamic executives who take their lunch break there. A stone’s throw from the library, Station F is worth a detour. Created in 2017 on the initiative of Xavier Niel, in the Halle Freyssinet, this start-up incubator dedicated to digital technologies covers 34,000 m².

Initiated by the Galerie Itinerrance in partnership with the town hall of the Place d’Italie area, among the urban frescoes of the 13th not to be missed: the stencils of Miss Tic; boulevard Vincent Auriol the creations: “Turncoat” by D*Face, “Étang de Thau” by Maye, “Embrace and struggle” by Connor Harrington and “La Madre Secular 2” by ‘Inti; “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” and “Delicate balance” by Shepard Fairey or even Jeanne d’Arc “And I held my breath” by Fail.

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.

Natural space
The little belt as in the majority of the arrondissements bordering Paris, are portions of the Petite Ceinture. Like today’s ring road, these train tracks circled the capital. Built in the 19th century and then abandoned, it is now gradually rehabilitated into green spaces and various gardens and gives the walks of Parisians a rural feel. Built in 1928, the floral city is made up of six alleys with amply flowered houses. The names of the streets are reminiscent of the horticultural identity of this little corner of paradise. Square René-Le Gall is very quiet with its rosebushes and four gazebos typical of the 1930s.

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