Ooh la la. Belleville. The name itself is beautiful. What once was a quaint village has now become a melting pot of many cultures and it has also become a new hotspot for locals and tourists alike. This ‘ville’ is bursting with colour as you will see in the stunning graffiti art along the streets, the many art galleries you can check out, and even the trendy stores and cafes that line the road.
It’s not just art that is winning here but Belleville actually boasts of a killer view over all of Paris from one of the many hills you can climb. Other than that, there are markets you definitely shouldn’t miss and a cool crowd of people you should meet. What’s great about Belleville is that it’s a walking distance from other amazing neighbourhoods and you can even walk to The Marrais and Sacre Coeur. It’s fantastic!
Let’s get on with it then. Wanderers, meet Belleville!
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THINGS TO SEE & DO IN BELLEVILLE
Spot graffiti at Rue Denoyez
One word, GRAFFITI. Rue Denoyez is one of the laneways pronounced legal for street art. It is a small street but it is completely teeming with graffiti and other quirky installations of ceramics, photographs, action figures, and what-not.
Street art can also be seen all around Belleville, not just Rue Denoyez. Even delivery trucks, flower pots, trash bins, and posts are covered in graffiti. Artists have truly made this place a colourful wonderland.
Take in the views at Parc des Buttes Chaumont
Paris has many lookouts and hills with views to offer. This one is a bit of special one though, for me anyways, since it was right around my house when I stayed in Belleville and you truly don’t encounter any tourists or the queues you typically get around the Eifel Tower.
Make your way to Parc des Buttes Chaumont and just enjoy the greenery. Did you know the colour green soothes the eye? So when you feel dizzy from all the sights and sounds of the city, looking at greens can help you revive.
This park is actually the 5th biggest park in Paris. It’s the perfect place to go for a run, or just to stroll, and have a picnic. Spot the little lake and cute waterfalls. You can get to Parc des Buttes Chaumont by Metro on the green line, simply exit at Buttes Chaumont.
Drop by at Marché Belleville on Boulevard de Belleville
If your Belleville trip falls on a Tuesday or Friday, from 7am to 2:30pm, do not dare miss Le Marche Belleville. It is an open-air market that features the usual fruit and vegetable stands, and the more interesting displays of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern goods and specialties.
Savoury and hot spices, brilliant fabrics, interesting home decors and what-nots are up for grabs.
Shop international foods at Rue de Belleville
Rue de Belleville is the main artery as you will see judging by the traffic along this road. Rue de Belleville is lengthy stretch of asstorted food outlets that cater to a global clientele.
Of course, there are French delicacies of baguettes, chocolates, and wine. But there’s also quite a number of restaurants with a Chinese menu, Middle Eastern specialties, Mexican food, and much, much more. Belleville actually is Paris’ second Chinatown which has emerged in the 1980s.
Find vintage goods at Rue de La Villette
If you’re up for a bit of hunting anything whimsical or perhaps something the locals love, head over to Rue de La Villette and explore its vintage shops and concept stores for something completely bizarre but totally cool. Drop by epiceries or grocery stores and check out the local goods.
There are many health food stores around in the area as well.
Lunch at Parc de Belleville
Lunch time! Go to the hilltop restaurant of La Mer a Boire at Parc de Belleville. Trust me, the sumptuous lunch and the breathtaking, panoramic view of Paris is worth the little hike.
Come the summer season, Parc de Belleville bursts with life as family and friends meet up for a casual picnic, couples go salsa dancing, and outdoor concerts blast with music. You might also occasionally spot cool local handmade crafts and jewellery for sale.
Visit the Edith Piaf House
Legend says Edith Piaf was born on the very doorway of a humble home at 72 de la Rue de Belleville. This day, you can find a plaque above that doorway that tells of her birth. It also says in French that her voice would go on to touch the world. Edith Piaf is the voice behind the iconic song ‘La Vie en Rose’.
Wander Père Lachaise cemetery
Is it even possible for a celebrity-studded cemetery to exist? Well, in Belleville, it sure is. The 44-hectare Pere Lachaise cemetery attracts many visitors and fans who would like to pay their respects. A lot of tombs have interesting sculptures and installations.
There are hundreds of famed French musicians, artists, scholars, poets, painters, politicians, to name a few. Be sure to visit the tombs of Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Chopin.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN BELLEVILLE
Drop in at Café Chérie
Café Cherie is Belleville’s no 1 neighbourhood bar. It is always filled to the brim with people during the late hours of partying, drinking, and dancing.
But on summer afternoons, you can come here to get a decent cup of joe or a beer and sit outside on the street-facing chairs and tables, simply perfect for watching Parisian life go on as you relax.
Have a coffee at Café Aux Folies
Café Aux Folies has become an iconic landmark in Belleville. Perhaps, because Edith Piaf used to sing here before her days of mega fame, or it could also be because the little café has stood the test of time.
You might just fall in love with its charm as it stands proud with its art-deco look which walls are painted with cubist mosaics.
This is also another place to enjoy affordable drinks and cocktails while you sit on the café’s sidewalk terrace. Do visit rather early in the afternoon. The place, especially the outdoor seats, tends to fill up quite fast.
Vietnamese at Chez Yu
Good things come in small packages – or should I say small restaurants. Chez Yu may be in a small, intimate setting but the food satisfaction is huge. I like this place because its kept super clean and the open kitchen allows viewing as your food is being cooked.
Their vietnamese pho and banh mi sandwiches (anyone been to Hanoi?) will not let you down!
Eat Bun Bo at Asian Soupe
Just in front of Café Cherie is Asian Soupe. And actually just downstairs of the apartment block I stayed in when I was in Paris! You’ve got to try their Bun Bo. I swear, this could be the best Bun Bo in all of Paris.
They say Asian food is très bien in Paris and they were right! Bun Bo originates from Vietnam. It is a hot and spicy noodle soup with beef or pork and its flavour comes from lemongrass. Watch out, this might be your next favourite comfort food.. no responsibility taken!
The best Pizza at Tripletta
Tripletta stole a pizza my heart. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Tripletta doesn’t just serve amazing pizza but it also sits in a very well-designed restaurant. The gorgeous décor plus the delicious pizza and desserts are worth visiting any time of the day. Oh, and surely you could have a glass of wine here too!
Italian gelato and desserts? It doesn’t get any better than that! CREAM Cafés website boasts of an impressive menu including 28 sundaes, 14 crepes, 14 waffles, 27 gelato flavours, 5 sorbet flavours, and all kinds of different beverages like milkshakes, fruit shakes, protein powder shakes, soda floats, smoothies, tea choices, and gourmet coffees. Need I say more?
Love Me Cru (for the Vegetarians among you!)
Yer yer, we all have those kinda friends that might argue going vegetarian means putting up with icky greens and not ever tasting anything yummy anymore. But that’s not the case in Love Me Cru. They have a 100% vegetarian menu that includes house-made soups, salads, sandwiches, juices and desserts.
Moncoeur Belleville is another venue where you have a choice of dining outside on their beautiful terrace or inside with their fab interiors. Expect great food in the company of cool people as friendly staff attend to your gastronomic needs.
The serve up a really nice brunch on a Sunday, if you love a late breakfast as much as I do, this could be something for you too!
WHAT ELSE IS THERE AROUND BELLEVILLE?
As mentioned, Belleville is a short walk to other awesome neighbourhoods like the one surrounding Porte Saint-Martin, which is Parisian monument and triumphal arch that commemorates Louis XIV for his triumph at Franche-Comte and on the Rhine. Absolutely loved coming down here in the morning for a coffee or night time for a drink and some food.
When in the vicinity, do check out the following awesome cafes:
My tummy rumbles even at the thought of Holybelly‘s spread. It boasts of a casual space but the food is elite and they do deliver on that promise. Another coffee joint is Café Craft where you can always count on their well-brewed coffee and trusty Wi-Fi connection for all you digital nomads out there. Good coffee and soul food, that’s what Le Poutch claims and delivers.
You can also head over to La Chambre aux Oiseaux for your daily caffeine fix and even for a decent meal. Ten Belles also offer a good cup of joe!
WHERE TO STAY IN BELLEVILLE
If you’re on a budget, the hostel of choice is The Loft Hostel. It’s trendy, affordable, inviting and the room interiors are literally so pretty, it’s like you’re paying for more than what you actually did. It totally fits in to the hip and trendy neighbourhood of Belleville.
Just like many of the funky cafes and restaurants in the place, Hotel Scarlett is one of those establishments that has been given new life. The building was abandoned for years but was reclaimed and repurposed into a classy hotel. Expect a burst of colours and geography-inspired prints adorning your classy room.
Belleville doesn’t have the iconic Eiffel Tower but it sure has a charm of its own that you can’t find in metro Paris. The graffiti, the trendy cafes, the people, and just the whole atmosphere of it all will leave you wanting for more. Fall in love with Belleville just like I did because I tell you, it truly is belle.
ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION IN BELLEVILLE
Alternatively, if you don’t fancy a hostel or hotel, check out the many Airbnb options in Paris – from beautiful lofts overlooking the Eifel Tower to charming rooftop flats in the city center.
If you look a bit closer to Belleville you will find even cheaper options. I have found quite some cool places between $30-60/night, so it’s worth having a look!
And you could save even more by getting $38 off your first booking with Airbnb through my link.
I possibly don’t have to tell you anymore, because you most likely know by now that I love housesitting!! Ever since 2015, I am a huge fan of it and have done quite a few sits all around the world!
Yes, I did a housesit in Paris too. I got to stay in a beautifully decorated 2-bedroom apartment right in the heart of Belleville and had the cutest cat to look after. Lucky me, because this was the week right after Christmas and over New Years, no way I could’ve afforded a place like that at this time of the year, which is said to be Paris’ most busiest month!
Extra Tip to score a great housesit: It’s worth it to be signed up to the daily newsletter sent out from Trusted Housesitters, the housesitting platform I use and love. Sign up to their site, it’s definitely worth the membership fee even if you only go on a few weekend trips throughout the year!