An area typically ignored by the standard tourist guide, Belleville is an area in Paris which spills out into the 10th, 11th and 20th arrondissements. Reminiscent of Montmartre, but higher, the streets narrow as they incline. The name of the commune Belleville comes from a twisting of the expression belle vue in the 15th Century, which is one of the reasons why it features on today’s post.
What makes Belleville such an exciting place to visit, aside from the staggering view from the top of the park, is the humming diversity that the self-proclaimed village offers. Known for it’s high immigrant population, Belleville has its very own China Town, and an enormous popular market, centred around the Ménilmontant area . Most of the residents hail from Armenia, Greece, Spain, Northern Africa and East Asia.
With this wealth of culture, it is not surprising that Belleville soon began to attract the artists who had once sworn allegiance to Montmartre, tired of what is now an over-touristed area of Paris. The dizzy heights and babble of foreign tongues kick-started an artistic revolution within an area of working class immigrants. Tiny theatres and artists’ ateliers have sprung up everywhere.
The Belleville magazine gives insight into its developing character; an unpretentious, fiercely diverse melting pot. On the 14th May, for example, I am hoping to go along to the Rally for Human Rights…on rollerskates! However, if wheels aren’t your friends then perhaps the concert with reggae/dub artists Alpha Blondy on the 14th April might be more your scene.