Butte aux Cailles Neighborhood

The first time we visited Paris we stayed in the fifth arrondissement, which was close to the Sorbonne. Most people we know, choose the arrondissements within walking distance to the main attractions of Paris, like we did that first time. It’s great to be walking distance from the heart of the city. However, if you don’t mind using the metro, you can find great places to stay and fun neighborhoods. Our choice this time around was the 13th arrondissement.
We found this neighborhood because we decided to rent an apartment this trip. We found our spot using Airbnb, one of many websites that offer vacation rentals. We knew nothing about this area, but the reviews sounded positive. And, they were correct!
The 13th has three Farmer’s Markets each week—Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. There was more than enough opportunity to find fresh produce and other delicious prepared foods. This neighborhood also has a cool area called the Butte-aux-Cailles, which has a wide assortment of bars, cafés and restaurants at more reasonable prices than the more central spots. It’s a popular area for the young crowd, but it’s not rowdy at all. The coffee bars and Boulangeries are also less expensive. We also found a quaint Salon de Thé with more varieties of tea than we’ve ever been offered. Then, there are even more ethnic restaurants near the metro that we just didn’t even have time to sample.
Staying a bit further from the main arrondissements has its advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage is that you don’t tend to go downtown at night as much, so you could miss the lights on the many monuments. Another disadvantage for some people is that you aren’t around tourists as much, so you don’t hear much English. But staying in a real neighborhood exposes you to the everyday people and their daily rituals. If you want to practice your French, you also have more opportunities to do so. People in the outer neighborhoods will not speak as much English and they appreciate it when you speak French—no matter how poorly. But my favorite part of being in the 13th arrondissement is discovering a quiet square to sit in and where we can enjoy a peaceful break from the bustling city.

About msraaka

I am an artist, writer and desktop publishing consultant living in the Pacific Northwest. After our first visit to Italy, my husband Bob and I have found ways to spend more and more time there and other countries in Europe. We love to travel, but especially to stay in one area and get a better sense of place. I love learning languages, so I continue to study Italian, French and Spanish so I can communicate a bit more with the locals. Even learning the basic greetings can make a big difference.
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