Wandering through Paris you’ll find little enclaves and pockets of architecture which don’t really fit in with the rest of the city. That is to say, they’re not ‘Haussmannian’. These small areas offer their own unique vibe and are collectively known as the ‘Micro Arrondissements’ of Paris. One of my all time favourites of such spaces is Cité Florale; a teeny tiny greenery filled area nestled away in the 13e arrondissement of the city…
Cité Florale: A Hidden Micro Arrondissement in the 13e
Dotted throughout Paris you’ll find small sections of the city that are unlike any other. One of the most famous is that of Butte Bergeyre, which also happens to be home to one of Paris’ last remaining vineyards. These small independent areas are known as the micro-arrondissements, and the Cité Florale is one of them.
The micro arrondissement quite literally lives up to its name of ‘Cité Florale’. After all, the area is simply a small city of flowers, bushes, and greenery. Vines, wisteria and ivy trail off the side of the houses. And stepping into this secluded pocket feels like stepping out of Paris and straight into the French countryside.
Small potted plants line walls of art deco architecture. Cobbled, private paths are hidden behind secret doorways. Passageways that are inaccessible… Unless you’re in the know, that is! This is Paris off the beaten track. This is where Parisians live their lives, tucked away and hidden from the public spaces of iconic Paris.
Cité Florale lies not far from the lovely Parc Montsouris, a green space that’s home to one of the last remaining secret sections of the Petite Ceinture, a Napoleonic era railway which once looped its way through the centre of Paris. Today, the 13th and 14th arrondissement are where plenty of hidden gems of Paris can be found, including the Parisian catacombs.
Much of the art deco architecture in this Micro-Arrondissement is reminiscent of nearby Square de Montsouris (a road which may well be the prettiest in all of Paris). Six streets make up Cité Florale; each has its own garden and is named after a type of plant. Rue des Glycines (Wisteria Road), Rue des Iris, Rue des Liserons (Bindweed Road), Rue des Orchidées, Rue des Volubilis and Square des Mimosas together form the Cité Florale.
How to visit Cité Florale and the best time to go!
The floral city, as it is known in English, is much newer than many other parts of the city. After all, it was only constructed in the late 1920s. The streets here were once focused around a singular triangle garden in the very midst of the six streets. Completed in 1928, the houses are built on the site of a former meadow.
The nearby river Bievre often inundated the meadow, flooding it with water. As a result, it was deemed that the area was too damp to build the traditional Haussmann buildings that are so prevalent throughout the rest of Paris. Instead, they constructed the cute little houses you’ll find dotted around the area today.
Situated in the Buttes Aux Cailles district of Paris, once in Cité Florale you’ll soon discover small houses and pastel paints. The area is free to visit and open all year round. The nearest metro station is Cité Universitaire (RER line B of the underground).