Friendly, with soft background music and a cosy atmosphere, a day in Belleville is not complete until you sit and relax with a cup of coffee in Le Barbouquin. The cafe is also a bookshop and the hot cocoa and pancakes are perfect for an afternoon of reading.
The Parc de Belleville is a great stop for getting a view of Paris from above—even an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower. The park is a popular hangout for dancers and street performers, but also for skaters and friends who enjoy a glass of wine while sitting on the grass. A walk up the little hill of the park takes you to a small-yet-interesting flea/craft market, and among the columns covered with street art, the best of Paris is easily recognisable.
Located on the large, tree-lined Boulevard de Belleville, Triplettes is a fun and funky French restaurant. Dishes are affordable but rich in flavour; its brunch is always popular on the weekends, making it one of the area’s best hipster hangouts.
Belleville’s diversity is best found by walking down the Rue de Belleville between Belleville and Pyrenees metro stations, or along the larger, more spacious Boulevard de Belleville. Tiny bakery shops stand side-by-side with stores selling Arabic books, organic cheese, and everything else imaginable. Because of Belleville’s long-standing working class history (the district was once a small village on the outskirts of the big city), the district has a distinctly urban feel while still being far enough from the Paris city centre to make the area more affordable and spacious. That’s probably why many famous artists and creators throughout history have called Belleville home. Edith Piaf lived here and you can even visit her former apartment with her old clothes, photos and belongings at the Edith Piaf Museum (by appointment only).
That fusion is evident in the shops and cafes, too, but also on the walls. Here in Belleville you’ll find countless street art murals by international artists—not something easily found in most of Paris. For the past 20 years, Belleville artists have opened up their studios and galleries each May for the annual Belleville Artists’ Open Studios—four days of public art shows by painters, sculptors and photographers.
Belleville’s two main parks, the Parc de Belleville and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, are popular weekend hangouts. In Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, you’ll even find one of the city’s undiscovered attractions. Gustave Eiffel might be most famous for his Eiffel Tower, but there’s also an impressive suspension bridge for pedestrians that floats over a lake and leads to the Temple de la Sybille—a small pavilion with a panoramic view.