Before traveling to Belleville I had been warned to look for escalators in the metro as the area rivals Montmartre in the “highest hill in Paris” game. The neighborhood is situated mainly in the 19th and 20th arrondissements, but also bleeds over into the 10th and 11th. This is the eastern side of Paris, to the north of the Seine, and I doubt it is on the radar of most tourists.
A multi-ethnic, mostly working class neighborhood, Belleville is colorful, gritty, and lively. Much action centered around the local market on the day of my visit where locals crowded around stalls selling everything from fresh produce to underwear, while just down the street a plaque noted where Edith Piaf had been born and raised.
My British friend and I met in a café across from the Télégraphe metro on rue de Belleville. The friendly café looked like it hadn’t been swept in a month with paper sugar packets littering the floor inside. My friend has visited Belleville many times on trips to Paris and had planned a walking tour of some interesting and colorful areas.
I almost wish the first couple of little streets we visited could have been tacked on at the end of our walk, as seeing these charming homes would have been even more surprising. I added the first few photos of the cemetery and water tower to give an idea of the blocks of apartment buildings built in an urban renewal effort several years ago. They certainly contrast with the buildings in the following photos.