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Porte de Bagnolet and the 20e!

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Published by Oat Sitalasai — 5 years ago

For yet another adventure in Paris, I would like to take you away from where the tourists would usually visit. This means we’re going out of the main Arrondissements of Paris, into what my local mate calls the countryside of Paris.

If you take the Paris metro out towards Gallieni on line 3 and get off at the second to last stop at Porte de Bagnolet, you will be surprised at what Paris really has to offer. Paris is not just admired internationally by its iconic places like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Musée du Louvre and so on so forth, but also for its rich history. If you get off at Porte de Bagnolet, you will be able to witness the unmatched history and development of the city like no other tour guide will offer you.

As you walk up the stairs from the metro station, you will immediately see apartment buildings in front and around you. But, why did I recommend that you come see a bunch of apartments? Well, they’re not just your average apartments, but in fact, buildings that represent the history of the city’s transformation and development. So I all just transfer the knowledge I was presented from our local friend to you directly in this post, so that when you step into the place, you kind of have a better idea of what’s going on.

Behind you and on your left, you will be able to see white-ish apartments, which are some of the accommodation provided by the government to those on a very limited budget. In fact, I’ve been told by many French and Parisians that during the industrial period of Paris, the richer population of the city would live in the south west of the city, and those with less wealth would live in the north eastern parts. This was due to simple logic that during this period, factories would release fumes and undesired emissions to the air, in which polluted the environment. The wind in Paris generally goes from east to west, which resulted in the residences on the west side of the factories getting bombarded with fumes. The wealthier of the citizens would find accommodation in the eastern suburbs to avoid the unfortunate fumes. What’s left from this is transformation of the 16th arrondissement, which is the undoubted THE place for the wealthies in the city.

Believe it or not - but perhaps you should - the lovely, classic looking brick slash stone houses were actually the less luxurious accommodation a hundred years ago! But can you believe how much they cost now? Well, I was told that they cost quite an amount that when they are advertised, the real estate company does not put a numerical value on them. The value is only revealed when a potential candidate asks for it, somewhat exclusive I must say. And to add to that, it is also uncommon for people to be living in houses here in Paris. So when someone lives in a house, chances are they either have a decent looking size bank or that they have an interesting story to share.

If you then keep walking up the street, pass these lovely houses, there’ll be an alley with stairs leading you up to the the street the houses are located in. This place is magical. If you look around you, you would never be able to guess that you’re standing in Paris. The houses are beautiful and you really get to appreciate their elegance up close. This is the perfect spot for a photos and for those into modelling or arts, this is a great setting.

Keep walking but not all the way, since it’s just a residential area. Make a left turn down another set of stairs and you will be on rue Irenée Blanc and rue Jules Siegfried. At this point, take one last look and appreciate the wonders of the stone house, and perhaps snap a pic similar to what I have. To me and a few of my friends, we felt that this street sign is unique since there’s a cute little red heart on it. For what reason, we’ve got no idea, but keep a look out for other street signs, because we found at least two more with this red heart sticker.

From here, cross the street and make a left turn on the first intersection you see. This will lead you down the street with bars, tabac, and a few other local businesses. About five minutes later, you will end up where we started at the train station, but on the other side at Memorial of Edith Piaf. For those not very good with the French culture, arts and musics like myself, Edith Piaf was an excellent song writer who’s fame stretched beyond borders and is still recognised today was one of the most successful French persons to have gone internationally. There is a bronze statue of her here to celebrate her success and greatness over the decades. If you’re interested and would like to find more about this, I would suggest typing Square Edith Piaf or Place Edith Piaf into our friend google for more accurate details.

From the lovely square, turn right and keep on walking. We were there around 2:30pm, and just narrowly missed out on the market. What was left of the market was clear, with vegetables and fruits on the pavement, and the smell of seafood lingering in the air. In less than ten minutes on food, you will arrive at Gambetta metro station, but before you back home, you may also be interested in grabbing an ice cream or a coffee enjoy the greenery in Le Square Edouard Vaillant. After this, you will be able to see what’s left of the few old-school cinemas in Paris. On your left just a stone throw away from the the park, you will see MK2 Gambetta. Constructed in the 1920’s, it’s just shy from its 100th year anniversary and is another one of the city’s well-kept treasure.

Stay away from the temptation of going home because there’s still a lot to see! You know that you’re in the main round about when you see Gambetta metro station and McDonald’s on the other side of the road. Grab a milkshake or a sundae from here to energise yourself then look out for Avenue of Père Lachaise which is just on the side of McDonald’s. Take this street and continue for about five minutes, and you’ll be entering the famous and absolutely massive Cimetière du Père Lachaise.

This cemetery is huge and takes up more than 100 acres of land. If you look at a map of Paris, you could see that this place - usually a green square - eats up a good chunk of the land. The cemetery is open to public, and is said to be the lying place for famous personnels including but not limited to Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison and the and only Dublin born writer and poet, Oscar Wilde. One of the highlights of this cemetery for those just visiting is the tombstone of Oscar Wilde. You could how big and important his lying place is, by the countless red lipstick kisses on the glass and the actual stone tomb. I really can’t imagine how many people have kissed his grave, nor imagine how clean the glass could be. While this is a nice and peaceful walk, I would not recommend that you follow the foot step of prior visitors by physically kissing the glass.

From this point onwards, you will really need Google Maps on your phone. I cannot express how essential this will be, since even I cannot remember directions to this place. Where I would suggest you continue onto next is rue de Retrait. This small and quiet street is well-known to the locals for its street arts. Many artists have taken their creation and sense of pride for their city of this street and created various pieces. I was told that arts on this public and private spaces have been deemed as illegal and uncivilized, until the local administration realises the important messages of the art works. These art pieces are more tolerated nowadays, and you’ll be able to catch some pieces here. But do look out for them though, since a few of them may be hiding!

At the end of this street, I think it’s fair to say that you’ve done a great job and has a fantastic walk through the less hectic parts of Paris. You will need your buddy Google Maps again to find the nearest metro station or bus stop, but roughly, metro stations Gambetta and Pelleport are your closest bets.

Alright, I hope this post was useful regardless of my horrendous attempt to give your exact directions. At the very least, I hope that you now have a better idea of what to discover in Paris outside of the usual tourist attractions! If you really want to take this trip a step further, be sure to check out my previous post on Panorama Gourmand Belleville for not only where to get some snacks and drinks, but also an additional great view of the city.

If you like the content of this post, or just want to check out some pictures that I take on my adventure, feel free to like and/or follow me on instagram at oat93, cheers!

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