Paris Self-Guided Walking Tour of Belleville, France inner banner

Paris Self-Guided Walking Tour of Belleville, France

The French capital is full of characterful neighbourhoods, and most of them are best discovered on foot. This self-guided walking tour will introduce you to colourful Belleville.
31 Jan, 2024
Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville
Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville. Image: Shutterstock

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Are you done with Paris’ crowded major monuments, forgettable tourist restaurants, and exorbitantly priced coffees?

What you need is an afternoon in Belleville in the city’s north-east! It’s home to off-the-beaten-track attractions, gritty street art, cheap-and-cheerful cafes, and plenty of options for a good pho!

Belleville straddles the 10th, 11th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements, and has large Chinese, Vietnamese, and North African communities (evident on Tuesday and Friday mornings at the lively outdoor markets). Originally a working class area, it’s now quite hip. Welcome to the Paris melting pot!

This Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville will introduce you to many of the area’s hidden gems. Give yourself a few hours to do the walk, and enjoy the unusual sights, sounds, and tastes along the way.

Follow the Google map provided below. Remember to print the map beforehand (or keep this page open!) if you don’t have Wi-Fi. Bonne balade!

Ruby’s Belleville Walking Tour – Google My Maps

Designed by Ruby Boukabou. Photos Ruby Boukabou & Julien Thonnard

(A) Belleville Metro Station & (B) Aux Folies

Exit the metro at Belleville metro station and walk up rue de Belleville. Aux Folies is a grungy and colourful cafe. It’s a local institution and the perfect place to stop for a noisette (short black coffee with a splash of milk). The café is on the corner of rue Denoyez, which is plastered with colourful street art. Wander down and peek into some of the tiny art galleries and artists’ studios.

Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville
Enjoy the street art in rue Denoyer. Image: Ruby Boukabou

When you’ve finished your coffee, continue up rue de Belleville past the many Chinese and Vietnamese eateries. If you’re feeling peckish, pick up a Vietnamese sandwich (a Belleville street food favourite amongst the locals) at Chez Yu to eat later in the park. They’re about 3 euros and they really hit the spot. Choose from chicken or beef with cucumber, carrot, coriander, chilli-if-you-dare and a delicious sauce, served in a half baguette.


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(C) Birthplace of Edith Piaf

Pass Place Fréhel and Culture Rapide bar and cafe. Take in the enormous urban art work that sits above the square (you can’t miss it!). Up the hill on your right is 72 rue de Belleville — the supposed birthplace of Edith Piaf (who is said to have been born here under a street lamp!). The legendary singer grew up in Belleville.

Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville
Visit the supposed birthplace of Edith Piaf. Image: Bigstock

(D) Parc de Belleville

Humming La Vie en Rose, stroll back downhill a few metres and take rue Piat to the left. Then go through the gate into Parc de Belleville. Find a nice spot on the grass to enjoy your sandwich. Once you’re done, continue your leisurely stroll through the park. Gasp at the panoramic view of Paris.

Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville
Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville: Parc de Belleville

Once you leave the park, take Passage Piat (opposite Moncoeur restaurant and cafe). You’ll pass local vegetable patches and grape vines reminiscent of the vineyards that once grew in the area.

(E) Rue Henri-Chevreau

Swing to the left and cross rue des Couronnes into rue Henri-Chevreau. You’re now in the lovely, local backstreets of Belleville, which are brimming with small theatres, cafés, restaurants, and street art. Look up to the left to see a mural by Némo — an artist whose original stencil paintings of black cats, boats, and red balloons for his children in the 1980s inspired his later street works.

Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville
Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville: Némo mural. Image: Ruby Boukabou

(F) Rue de Savies & (G) Rue des Cascades

Take a left turn into rue de la Mare, then right into rue de Savies (the old name for Belleville), and right again into rue des Cascades, with its cobblestones, coloured buildings, and cafés spilling out onto the street. When you come out at rue de Ménilmontant, you’ll get another impressive view over Paris to your right. Opposite, covered in posters for concerts, is the old Miroiterie. This one-time squat was famous for Sunday night jazz jams until the building was sold.

Walk uphill a few metres and turn right into rue Boyer, passing the Centre Momboye for African dance, and La Bellevilloise — a cool four-storey arts and music complex (check out the terrace bar if it’s open).

Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville
La Bellevillois. Image: Ruby Boukabou

Turn left into rue Laurence Savart and climb up the small lane with vines and rose bushes (and probably a cat sunning itself). Take a right into rue du Retrait and keep walking past the Theatre de Ménilmontant until you reach rue des Pyrénées. Turn right, and head downhill. You pass the trendy Aux Ours café, bakeries, green grocers and florists before you arrive at the Gambetta town hall and metro station.


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(H) Père Lachaise Cemetery

Walk around the roundabout and take avenue du Père-Lachaise towards famous Père Lachaise Cemetery. Here you can visit Proust, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Marcel Marceau, and Edith Piaf. If you arrive outside of opening hours (the cemetery closes at 5.15pm in winter and 5.45pm in summer) and can’t get through — don’t worry. Turn right and follow the cemetery wall through a park, until you get to Père Lachaise metro station. Pick up the map there.

Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville
Père Lachaise Cemetery. Image: Bigstock

Exit the cemetery and turn right into boulevard de Ménilmontant. If you’re up for it, this is your chance to try the Vélib’ public bike share scheme. Download the free app to hire a bike, which is relatively cheap. However, be aware that the hefty deposit charged to your credit card can take up to a week to be reimbursed.

From here, head straight along the boulevard (by bike or on foot) until you arrive back at Belleville metro station. You may want to take a detour to the Musée Edith Piaf (open by appointment at 5 rue Crespin du Gast, so make contact first!) or historic Notre Dame de la Croix — which dates back to the late 1800s.

Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville
Paris self-guided walking tour of Belleville: Notre Dame de la Croix

(I) Rue Louis Bonnet & (J) Place Sainte-Marthe

By now you will have worked up quite an appetite, so a pho is in order! Return your bike at Belleville metro station and head along rue Louis Bonnet to one of its bustling Vietnamese eateries. Wash your meal down with a Tsingtao beer or jasmine tea.

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Have you travelled to Paris? We would love to hear your tips for a self-guided walking tour of Belleville. Please leave a comment below.

Cover image: Shutterstock. Additional images: Bigstock

Ruby Boukabou

About the writer

Ruby Boukabou is a travel, culture, and food writer based between Europe and Australia, and has written for The Age, The Australian, Qantas, Issimo, The Diplomat, Paris Voice, and Inside Film. She has also produced culture and travel stories for the ABC, SBS, and Screen Australia. Ruby’s books — The Art Lover’s Guide to Paris and The Architecture Lover’s Guide to Paris (White Owl Books) — are available in bookshops and to order online.

 

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