This historic thoroughfare a stone’s throw from the Place d’Italie in the 13th arrondissement was once the main street in a charming country village. Imagine a vineyard-coveredhill withwoods, meadows and windmills overlooking the River Bièvre. In 1543, when Pierre Caille acquired this bucolic plot of farm land outside the gates of Paris, the area, which at the time was attached to the town of Gentilly, was known as a craftsman’s neighbourhoodwith tanners, weavers and dyers, many of whomwere employed by the pres tigiousManufacture des Gobelins, amajor textile pro ducer that depended on the nearby river to supply water for its tannery. But because of the foul smell generated by this activity, the area was deemed to be unsanitary and disreputable. It was not until 1860, when the neighbourhood was finally included within the boundaries of the city of Paris that the Bièvre was covered over. However, we can still trace its old route, which ismarked by a series of commemorative bronze plaques embedded in the city sidewalks PRESERVED VILLAGE SPIRIT When strolling through this peaceful urban enclave we discover the warm, neighbourhood atmosphere of the Rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles. This narrow street at the top of the hill, between Rue Bobillot and Rue de l’Espérance, comes alive in the evening when locals and tourists flock to its bars and restaurants including the iconic Le Temps des Cerises, 3 at no. 18-20, opened in 1976 in a former grocery store. This convivial space was organised as a SCOP cooperative as a tribute to the resistance fighters of the 1871 Paris Commune. The walls of this neighbourhood are places of free expres sion, where people come to see murals by such street artists as Rémi Cierco, along with collages, paintings, posters, graffiti and stencils by anonymous creatives who flock here to add their own messages 2 . At L’Ar genterie (no. 5), an ethnic and vintage jewellery bou tique, is a neighbourhood standout, withwindows full

of glinting silver. A few steps further on, l’Artisan, a bakery and patisserie at no. 25, opens at 6:30 am to provide locals with delicious homemade viennoiseries andgood coffee to awaken their tastebuds before stroll ing into this maze of alleys and squares that retain their time-honoured soul.

Curiosities on the Rue de La Butte-aux-Cailles

  • A street art tour with works by Seth, the late great Miss.Tic, Remi Cierco, Philippe Beaudelocque, Je Aerosol, Aydar and Bebar
  • N°3: Morgan Tatouage, a well-known piercing and tatoo parlour on the Butte aux-Cailles.
  • N°17: Les Amis de la Bienvenue, a popular neighbourhood organisation with a library and a shop, which hosts reading workshops, extracurricular and literacy classes, and workgroups for both children and adults.