21 Shades of Shabby-Chic: The Facades of Belleville

The area of Belleville is an interesting creature indeed. Most travelers spend weeks in Paris without even hearing of it, and those who do usually aren’t sufficiently convinced – or maybe just lack the time – to make the journey to what in their minds is a faraway land with fewer sights of interest. So for the average outsider it continues to be, in the grand book of Paris, a rather crumpled and invisible footnote.

This of course is why Parisians absolutely adore it. Belleville is way too cool for the conventional beauty of a cathedral or palatial museum; it draws its magic instead from rough-hewn layers of real people and real life…always with an artsy, vintage flair. For the locals who actually make Paris run, it’s home. For lovers of roads untrodden and unexploited, it’s a visual playground.

Yesterday I went to the area’s western edge (10th arrondissement) determined to explore several streets for a blog post. In less than an hour I’d gathered more than enough inspiration and intriguing photos…and I had walked a total of just two streets. Fertile land indeed!

Being Sunday the sidewalks were empty and all shop windows shuttered, producing a moody atmosphere. All perfectly conducive to the type of meditative treasure hunts that made me fall in love with Paris in the first place. So here’s shabby-chic Belleville on a Sunday afternoon, via 21 facades.

For the record these photos were taken primarily on Rue Sainte-Marthe and Rue Jean et Marie Moinon. Stay tuned for my next post dedicated to the smaller details of this walk that I didn’t have space for!


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