Guide Tour of the Gambetta area, Paris, France

The Gambetta area is located in the 20th arrondissements of Paris. The Gambetta area is a district that authentic and full of charm, most known as the secret village of paris, filled with a large number of newly built buildings that are different from the uniform style of Paris, characterized in particular by a very large number of theaters and café-theatres.

The area’s whole contributes to creating a lively, popular and friendly district, cultural life is richer and more diversified than elsewhere. The many performance halls, concerts, theatres, street art, graffiti, hip-hop culture… Narrow and flowery streets, greenery, landscape, cultural imprints, cobblestones on the ground, artists’ studios, colorful houses, undoubtedly the most colorful in Paris thanks to the many works of street art that cover the walls.

Avenue Gambetta is a road located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. It owes its current name to Léon Gambetta (1838-1882), politician, member of the Government of National Defense in 1870, President of the Council. Lined with trees, Avenue Gambetta is formed by four different axes. It begins at Place Auguste-Métivier at an altitude of 54 metres, from where it climbs the hill of Ménilmontant to the northeast, along Square Samuel-de-Champlain, towards Place Martin-Nadaud.

The avenue then turns due east and reaches Place Gambetta. Place Gambetta is a street located in the Père-Lachaise district of the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Place Gambetta forms a crossroads with Avenue Gambetta, Rue des Pyrénées, Rue Belgrand and Avenue du Père-Lachaise. It has the shape of a perfect hexagon with an average width of 90 m. The perimeter is planted with trees.

The town hall of the 20th arrondissement borders the square, between Avenue Gambetta and Rue Belgrand. A modern fountain is located in the center of the square. Installed in 1992, it is due to the architect Alfred Gindre, the visual artist Jean Dismier and the master glassmaker Jean-Louis Rousselet.

There, it heads north-east, runs along the town hall of the 20th arrondissement, the square Édouard-Vaillant and the Tenon hospital, and reaches the places Paul-Signac then Saint-Fargeau, where she suffered her last misalignment. After passing behind the Administrative Center of Les Tourelles, headquarters of the DGSE, it borders the Olympic swimming pool Georges-Vallerey and the Square du Docteur-Variot and ends at Porte des Lilas at an altitude of 116 m.

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 Gambetta area 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.

Belleville district
Belleville with energy and diversity, is home to one of Paris’s lively Chinatowns, a burgeoning artist quarter and a dizzying array of cultures. Belleville has always been a working class neighborhood, with immigration generating much of the area’s zest. Cheap rents have also led artists to flow into the area, making it an ideal spot for their ateliers.

The name Belleville literally means “beautiful town”. Originally a village perched on the side of a hill, Belleville was annexed to Paris during Haussmann’s large-scale renovations in 1870, but has retained its picturesque charm. Attractive row houses and some beautiful views with quaint villages, row houses and beautiful views, leave the bustle of the city behind as you explore this district.

Not only swayed by the Belle Époche at the turn of the last century, but also have a strong artistic and working-class background, the Belleville of today is rather influenced by the zeitgeist of newer times. What’s Picasso and Hemingway for Montmartre, is Street Art for Belleville. A lot of animation and life in the steeply sloping streets.

Belleville, a part of the city where creative energy, a multicultural population and working-class inhabitants combine to create a bustling, cosmopolitan community. It’s where legendary French singer Edith Piaf lived and called home, and along with the city’s second-biggest Chinatown, Belleville is also known for its impressive street art and for offering sweeping views of the city below.

Since 1820, Belleville has been a very industrious district with countless small industrial businesses and craft workshops. At the time, these trades were grouped by field of activity: small trades in Paris, shoes, clothing, leather goods, machine tools… This characteristic made Belleville the first working-class district and saw the birth of the very first French trade unions (hat, metallurgy, etc.)

For more than thirty years, artistic life has been very active. There are many workshops there, and every year, in May, an open weekend allows you to discover them. For example, rue Denoyez brings together several artists’ associations. Graffiti artists have also taken over a blind wall in the street to exercise their talent. The numerous neighborhood cinemas of the 1960s have almost all disappeared, only the MK2 Gambetta remaining.

The district with a combination of greenery and modernity Passage Gambetta, the trees provide welcome shade to pedestrians. Villa du Borrégo, a cul-de-sac some fifty metres in length, lined with picturesque red brick houses. A timeless atmosphere reigns here, as in the other dead-end streets in the area. Jardin Saint-Simonian, where the cherry trees produce an amazing profusion of blossoms in spring. Walk along Rue de Ménilmontant, then turn right into Rue des Pyrénées. The Place du Guignier on your right, with its pastel-coloured buildings, kiosk-like stone building serving as an entrance for municipal sewer maintenance workers, and an inviting bench.

Villa de l’Ermitage, a private street leading off from near Number 315, Rue des Pyrénées, harks back to a bygone era. Lined with individual houses and artists’ studios, this quaint little passage filled with lush vegetation, palm trees, roses and wisteria. The Cité Leroy is bordered by charming little houses, some of them hidden from view by greenery-swathed metal gates. A flowerpot filled with blooms, or a cat basking on the cobblestones. A residents’ association called Leroy Sème has started a community garden bursting with colour and fragrance.

Belleville’s elevation made it one of the city’s largest water reservoirs in times past. Rainwater was collected here and then distributed using aqueducts. A short climb will lead you to a vestige of this era: the ‘regard’ (manhole) Saint-Martin, which once covered the Belleville aqueduct. This stone construction dating to the 18th century provided access to the underground tunnels. Find some bouteroues, or wheel guards, in Rue de Savies. In Rue de la Mare, a disused railway line that has been returned to nature. then left on Rue Henri Chevreau to get to the Parc de Belleville. Keep on walking on rue du Transvaal and reach the belvedère.

Belvédère de Belleville, this viewpoint at a height of 108 metres provides one of the most sweeping views of the capital, from the Eiffel Tower to Jussieu. The Belleville viewpoint has been named after Willy Ronis (1910-2009), the well-known humanist photographer. The pillars surrounding the viewpoint have been decorated by the street artist Seth. His urban art ‘canvases’ painted in bright, cheerful colours depict local residents with their heads in the clouds. The artworks really stand out in this greenery-filled setting.

No.80 of Rue Rébéval is a prime example of the 1920s art deco movement. This building with a curvilinear orange-brick façade was once the headquarters of the toy company Meccano. It now houses the Paris School of Urban Engineering. Walk along Rue de Belleville, perusing the little shops and the restaurants serving world cuisines. Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Belleville church, a typical example of Gothic revival architecture, one of the first churches in Paris to be built in this style. Admire its sculptures, beautiful frescoes and stained-glass windows. With its soaring nave, pointed arches, clustered columns and ribbed vault.

Place des Fêtes is a large esplanade hosts flea markets where people enjoy browsing for eccentric items, and a thrice-weekly food market. Major renovation work began here in 2019 as part of current plans to redevelop the city, and will make the esplanade greener and more liveable, with two new plant-filled terraces. Villa des Fêtes, one of the area’s many pleasant tree-lined streets. Mouzaïa neighbourhood is made up of charming little houses with wrought-iron gates, and narrow pedestrian-only streets and cul-de-sacs lined with buildings of a modest size. The row of pretty houses comprising the Villa des Lilas, the colourful exteriors along the Villa Alexandre Ribot and the lush vegetation along the Villa Claude Monnet.

Église Orthodoxe Saint-Serge de Radonège with striking red and blue wooden sculpted door of this place of worship, with The frescoes and icon screen by the artist Dmitri Semenovich Stelletsky. Originally built as a German Lutheran church, it was abandoned, and subsequently confiscated, during the Second World War. It was later transformed into a Russian Orthodox church.

In 1860, Napoleon III decided to have the Buttes Chaumont hill area transformed into a 25-hectare Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in the English style. Every single one of its features, from the lake to the rocky cliffs. Wander through the tree-lined walkways, head to the lake, fed by water from the Canal de l’Ourq. Go over the suspended footbridge (a Gustave Eiffel masterpiece) to explore the Île du Belvédère, perched 30 metres above the waters of the lake, where the main attraction is the Temple de la Sybille, a copy of the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy. Another bridge known as the Pont des Suicidés leads you out of the park and into Rue Manin.

Butte Bergeyre offering the feel of a village perched up above the city. Nestling at a height of 100 metres, it provides a spectacular vista of Paris and a bird’s-eye view of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and the Eiffel Tower. Walk with a leisurely stroll around the streets on the slope of the hill, admiring the houses draped in grapevines and the community gardens.

Saint-Fargeau district
The Saint-Fargeau district is the 78th district of the capital. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it is bordered to the south and southwest by Rue Pelleport. Saint-Fargeau was annexed to Paris around 1859, after the incorporation of Charonne and Belleville into the capital. The district takes its name from a park, the last vestige of the Saint-Fargeau castle that once belonged to Louis-Michel Lepeletier de Saint-Fargeau. This castle is also called the Ménilmontant castle.

From industrial until the 1960s, the Saint-Fargeau district has become a purely residential district around the old Surmelin river. In this district are in particular the Tenon hospital, the villas of the Countryside in Paris, the square Séverine, the Olympic swimming pool, the reservoir of Ménilmontant and the reservoir of Belleville, and an important group of barracks of the 19th and 20th centuries, used by the administration of the Ministry of Defense, including the DGSE next to the Georges-Vallerey swimming pool.

Belleville Reservoir commissioned shortly after the Ménilmontant reservoir, in 1866, this is an annexe reservoir built by Eugène Belgrand with a final capacity of 18,000 m3. Built in 3 years (between 1862 and 1865), a steam engine had to be installed to pump and convey the water from the Ménilmontant reservoir to it.

Réservoir du Ménilmontant is one of the main reservoirs of Paris, it was built in 1865 by Eugène Belgrand. Located near the Telegraph, it has a storage capacity of around 95,000 m3. Today it is supplied by the Joinville-le-Pont treatment plant and supplies 15% of the Parisian population. It is located at the highest point of Paris to ensure a better redistribution of water.

Square Emmanuel-Fleury allows visitors to relax among the poplars and their silvery foliage, cherry blossoms, a gigantic sequoia and a magnificent tulip tree.

Pere Lachaise district
The Père-Lachaise district is located in the heart of the 20th arrondissement. Urbanization only reached this district of Paris during the 19th century. Previously, the countryside extended there and ecclesiastics and wealthy Parisians went there on holiday. The creation of the cemetery, under the reign of Napoleon, structured the creation and development of the district.

Like most of eastern Paris, the Père-Lachaise district was a popular district throughout the 20th century. The gentrification that gradually spread to the neighborhood in the 2000s and 2010s was limited by the high proportion of social housing.

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.

Charonne district
The Charonne district is the 80th administrative district of Paris, located in the 20th arrondissement. It takes its name from the old village of Charonne, attached to Paris in 1860 by Napoleon III. The village used to be surrounded by vineyards, for which it was an ideal location, being situated on the southern slope of Belleville hill and watered by a number of springs.

Near the end of the rue de Repos, the Tampographe Sardon with an unusual shop window, a workshop-cum-gallery where all kinds of rubber stamps are designed and hand-made, appreciate the caustic humour of some of the messages, the romantic illustrations or the elegant graphics. The Cité Aubry’s community garden is a charming community garden. A haven of tranquillity tucked between the buildings, it’s a tiny green lung where local families grow tomatoes, herbs and bright sunflowers. This urban kitchen garden has one particularly unusual feature, the large-scale murals painted by street artists on the surrounding wall.

The dead-end of Rue de Bagnolet cobbled street is lined with former nineteenth-century industrial workshops, some of which are now artists’ studios. The silence, the trees growing over the cemetery wall at the end of the road, and the weeds poking up between the cobblestones combine the impression of being miles away from the city. The local bookshop Le Merle Moqueur perusing the shelves beneath the long glass roof, a generalist bookshop with a wide selection of titles in all sections, including literature, children’s books and travel guides. Nearby is Le Quartier Rouge, a pleasant café and restaurant and an ideal place for reading recently-acquired matter.

Le Jardin Naturel half-hidden in the shadow of Père Lachaise cemetery, this remarkable garden has the particular feature of encouraging “indigenous” plants: trees and wild flowers that once flourished in the countryside around Paris. To respect the plants’ natural development cycle, the garden is maintained using “organic” gardening techniques. A wide path leads through the garden under the oaks, maples and hazels that provide shade for a variety of woodland plants.

Square Henri Karcher located in the winding tree-lined path and discover the charms of this hillside garden nestling alongside the Père-Lachaise cemetery. The hillside was once covered with vineyards and windmills. La Flèche d’or, a former Petite Ceinture railway station, the place used to be Charonne railway station became one of the trendiest concert venues in Paris. It built up a reputation for spotting upcoming musical talent. The Marguerite Duras multimedia library, one of Paris’s most innovative libraries. As well as being a municipal library, it also features an exhibition area, auditorium and, on the top floor, a multimedia collection dedicated to Eastern Paris, where you can learn more about the area.

Saint-Germain de Charonne church, is the only one in Paris, along with Saint Pierre de Montmartre, that is still surrounded by the parish cemetery. The tower dates from the thirteenth century. Here you are at the heart of the former village of Charonne, which has managed to preserve some of its picturesque charm. On the opposite side of the road stands the much more recent church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, designed by architect Henri Vidal.

Rue Saint Blaise with numerous pavement cafés and restaurants are as many invitations to take a break. The cobbles and the colourful street furniture accentuate the atypical nature of this semi-pedestrian street, overlooked by the pretty medieval church tower. L’Ogresse, a small community theatre specialising in musical or spoken word performances and puppet shows. From this little belvedere, you can look down onto Rue de Bagnolet, at a pair of houses (numbers 134 and 136) that proudly display the elegant steps leading up to their raised front doors.

The imposing Louis XIV style Pavillon de l’Ermitage, is the only vestige of the park of the Château de Bagnolet, formerly the property of the Duchess of Orléans. Place Edith Piaf is a small square for the 40th anniversary of the singer’s death. It features a pretty Wallace fountain and a statue of Edith Piaf by Lisbeth Delisle.

La Campagne à Paris is a little residential area perched atop the hill. The charming houses were built in the 1920s and cultivate their individuality while forming a harmonious ensemble: each one is different but together they form a cohesive whole, with their luxuriant gardens, elegant awnings, wrought-iron gates and brightly-painted shutters. The attractiveness of this spot is enhanced by the perpetual calm of these narrow streets.

Green Space
The Gambetta area 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 Gambetta area 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.