The Belleville district of Paris
doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. Practically everyone knows about Le Marais, the Champs-Élysées, Montmartre, Montorgueil, and the Louvre area. But Belleville? The place is not as famous but it ought to be. The neighborhood has such a vibrant energy, street art decorates the area, a ton of great hotspots, and there's even its own little Chinatown too. It may be one of the more low-key parts of Paris, but it's still definitely worth exploring. Perhaps even moving to if you plan to become a Parisian yourself!
A Lot of History
Although most people know that Paris is a historic city, many might not realize just how much. Practically every corner and neighborhood in Paris
has relevance in French (and at times, world) history. Take Belleville, for example. It's hardly the most popular part of the city yet it also has a riveting history behind it. The most famous of which is the Paris Commune, a revolutionary government that seized power in the capital city in early 1871. Although it led to a bloody battle and massacre of the revolutionaries, its rebellious spirit still lives on to this day.
A Haven for Immigrants
Today, Belleville is perhaps most known as the haven for immigrants in Paris. Although everyone who's moved to Paris
can stay in any other part of the city, this district is undoubtedly the most welcoming, particularly to those who need sanctuary. As a result, however, Belleville turned from the center of the working class in Paris to one of the less-desired neighborhoods. This isn't to say that it's a ghetto area, but it is notorious for being one of the rougher parts of town. Nevertheless, it's still a great place to explore overall, especially with its diversity.
A Diverse District
Since Belleville is a known haven for immigrants, it also means that it's become the most diverse area in all of Paris. Various nationalities and ethnicities from around the world have set up their own communities here, ranging from African and Latin American to Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. You'll see it in the various restaurants, shops, and boutiques that make up Belleville. Most famously, part of the neighborhood features Quartier Asiatique
, more commonly known as Chinatown. You'll find the most exquisite Chinese and other Asian restaurants here, not to mention the liveliest place to celebrate Chinese New Year in Paris.
A Street Art Gallery
Belleville is a neighborhood-wide open-air gallery of street art. If you thought that the various museums in Paris feature the most fascinating artworks in the city, think again. This whole district, specifically Rue Denoyez, is decorated with graffiti, murals, pop art, and more. Entire buildings are covered with so much art that they don't even look like they're still in Paris anymore. And it's become such a colorful area that they've even begun setting up street art tours of Belleville. It's perfect for capturing some of the best Instagram-worthy spots in Paris
A Ton of Hotspots
Beyond the street art, let's not forget that Belleville is still part of Paris. And like many of the other districts, it has its fair share of notable hotspots. Take Aux Folies, for example, which is a typical cafe and brasserie. With reasonable prices and good food, it's the go-to spot for locals looking for a good meal. Le Vieux Belleville, on the other hand, is as much known for its music as it is for its food. It's almost like a cartoon version of a Parisian restaurant, wherein you can indulge in some escargot while some guy with an accordion serenades you with “La Vie En Rose
A Few Great Parks
Belleville might not be known for its parks but it does have a couple of noteworthy green spaces. One of which is Petit Ceinture, an abandoned railway turned street park. The former tracks still remain, offering an almost-eerie view of its history. You'll also see many skateboarders and teenagers hanging out here often. Another is the more famous Parc de Belleville, known as one of the highest parks in Paris. Perched atop a hill, you can feel such refreshing breezes when you go here during spring or autumn. It's also a great place to hang out or even have a picnic in Paris
A Great View of Paris
While you're still in Parc de Belleville, don't forget to enjoy the incredible views up there. As already mentioned, the park is perched atop a fairly high hill in the city, offering up what's practically a bird's eye view of the rest of the French capital. Not even the Eiffel Tower, the Montparnasse Tower, or Montmartre Hill would give you such breathtaking sights. It's safe to say that this is probably the most popular and beloved part of Belleville, even with all the other amazing things you'll find in the district.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Guilhem Vellut
Belleville deserves more credit as a fascinating and exciting neighborhood in Paris. It may not be the most famous area in the city, but there's a lot to look forward to in this part of the French capital!