You’ve seen the Eiffel Tower. You’ve wandered around the Louvre. Hey, you may even have climbed the spiralling staircases of the Arc de Triomphe. But have you heard of the hidden villages of Paris? They’re little pockets of tranquillity that were once small communities in their own right but have since been absorbed into the fabric of the busy capital city. Here are 9 secret villages in Paris that even the locals don’t know about:
Butte Bergeyre, 19e arrondissement of Paris
Not far from the vast and quirky park of Buttes Chaumont, you’ll find Butte Bergeyre. Off the beaten tourist track and accessible via only two steep flights of stairs and one winding lane, Butte Bergeyre is one of the few secret villages in Paris that remain lost to most Parisians to this day.
Filled with artists residences and fantastic views over Paris that few ever get a chance to experience, located in the very heart of this micro-arrondissement, you’ll also find one of the last remainingParisian vineyards. And, if you’re lucky enough to stroll among the vines, stunning views onto the Sacré-Coeur…
Square de Montsouris, 14e arrondissement of Paris
Forget the queues at the nearby Catacombs of Paris. Because not far from the green space of Montsouris Park, the Petite Ceinture, and the cavernous expanse of the underground, there’s a small road marked by a solitary sign declaring it ‘privé’. Those who walk down this road will enter into one of the few last remaining villages in the French Capital.
Rather confusingly, as the name most certainly doesn’t suggest, you’ll actually find a long winding road rather than a ‘town square’ type of place. There’s a large number of art deco houses, artists residences dating back to the early half of the 20th-Century, and leafy façades that wouldn’t look out of place in a Cezanne painting.
Butte aux Cailles, 13e arrondissement of Paris
For a Provençal feel in the heart of Paris, especially so in the summer months when the sun is shining and the cafés spill out onto the streets, head to Butte Aux Cailles. The hilltop neighbourhood feels like miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday Parisian life, and its architecture is worlds apart from the traditional Haussmannian style that is so synonymous with the city.
Hilly and filled with plenty of street art, the Buttes aux Cailles was once a village in its own right, separate from the rest of Paris, and overlooked the now underground Rue Bièvre and Gobelins area of Paris. In 1783, the former village was even the site of the first ever hot air balloon ride!
Cité Florale, 13e arrondissement of Paris
The aptly named Cité Florale is a secret micro-arrondissement in the very middle of the Butte aux Cailles area of the city. A secret village inside a little-known village, if you will. Small townhouses are covered in flowers, leafy vines, and the entire space has the feel of a French countryside hamlet.
The streets are cobbled, secluded and rarely see any tourists. This is the perfect place to head if you’re looking for a place to explore without the tourists without having to leave Paris. In the springtime, there’s wisteria to be seen, while other flowering plants bloom throughout the summer months. In total, six streets make up the Cité Florale, and all are worth walking down.
Read more: A secret space in Paris, Cité Florale.
Plaisance, 14e arrondissement of Paris
‘Plaisance’ is not just the name of a metro station on line 13 of the Parisian underground, but the name of a quirky district to the South of the River Seine that was once a village in its own right. In fact, the entire 14e district came about when Montrouge, Montsouris and Plaisance grew to the point that they merged with one another.
Within the Plaisance area, you’ll find one of the quirkiest churches in Paris, that of Notre Dame du Travail, as well as the Hunger Games Film set lookalike of ‘Jardin des Colonnes‘. Head to the 14e arrondissement of the city if you’re looking to visit an area of Paris that few tourists ever venture to. After all, the district is often overlooked in favour of the nearby Luxembourg and Latin Quarters.
Quartier de Charonne, 20e arrondissement of Paris
If you’re looking to experience a village feel, then you need to look no further than the charming area of Charonne. Filled with little dead-end streets that remind you of the Mews Streets of London, these little pockets of calm are perfect for snapping photos or escaping from central Paris in the summer months.
The entire area was first merged with Paris under the direction of Napoleon III in 1860. Prior to that, Charonne had been a village in its own right, and is one of the few spots in Paris to retain a small community feel to this day.
Village Saint Paul, 4e arrondissement of Paris
Behind one of the most iconic churches in Paris, tucked away in the place where you’d least expect it, you’ll find Village Saint Paul. Of all the secret villages in Paris on this list, Village Saint Paul is probably my favourite. After all, it’s not often that you can go shopping for antiques and vintage wares just steps away from one of the chicest districts in Paris.
Villa Léandre, 18e arrondissement of Paris
Of all the secret villages in Paris, Villa Léandre is probably my favourite. Close to the Sacré Coeur Basilica and near to the Montmartre Cemetery (a Parisian graveyard famed for being located between a particularly modern road), you’ll find what is perhaps the most unusual road of Montmartre.
All trailing vines and art deco English-inspired houses, Villa Léandre was built in the 1920s on the site of a former Parisian windmill. For those with a sense of humour, it’s also worth noting that No. 10 even has a little plaque ‘Downing Street,’ an ode to the Prime Minister’s office in London!
Hameau Boileau, 16e arrondissement of Paris
Tucked away behind a sea of iron gates, the little ‘hamlet’ of Hameau Boileau is comprised of five cobbled streets and was listed as a site of historical/ national importance when it faced demolition by developers looking to expand housing offerings in the area in July 1970.
If you’re lucky enough that a ‘gardien’ lets you in behind locked doors (the hamlet is generally closed to the public), you can expect to find 32 plots. Wander further into the leafy depths of this secret Parisian village, and there’s a lot of intricate architecture to be seen.
La Campagne à Paris, 20e arrondissement of Paris
Tucked away in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, ‘La Campagne à Paris’ is literally translated as ‘the countryside in Paris’ and is so secluded and off the beaten path that even many Parisians don’t know of its existence.
Focused primarily on the roads around Porte de Bagnolet, wander around this neighbourhood and you’ll soon discover plenty of floral clad houses and pretty side streets. For more inspiration and how to visit, check out my guide to La Campagne à Paris.
La Mouzaïa, 19e arrondissement of Paris
Bucolic and beautiful, the serene La Mouzaïa is a little off the beaten tourist track and is well worth the trek outside of the main city centre. Comprised of two and three-storey houses as opposed to the typical Haussmannian architecture that is so synonymous with the city, there’s plenty of cobbled lanes to see, not to mention more greenery than you’re likely to spy within the rest of the city!