Pick up any postcard of the City of Lights and you’ll see a crisscross of long boulevards, whose rows of regularly aligned neo-classical apartment blocks flaunt predictable creamy stone. But there’s a hidden pocket of picturesque countryside hidden in Paris‘ 20th district, if you know where to look.
This former working-class housing estate, perched atop Porte de Bagnolet, hides a cluster of roughly 90 charming houses packed into a tiny plot of land. Each building is quirky and unique, bursting with charm from its plant-covered walls, gentle pastel colours and paved cobbled paths.
It’s absolutely nothing like the rest of Paris, architecturally, whose military straight rows of stone neo-classical apartment blocks become very predictable after awhile. In this neighbourhood, every building is different and full of surprises.
There is a perpetual silence that lingers over this spot, which is a very rare luxury in central Paris. You almost forget you are in Paris at all. It’s like you’ve been teleported to some quaint French countryside village, at least for a moment.
Whilst this area of mini-countryside is located only a few minutes from Paris’s busy ‘Périphérique’, the country’s main ring road, there is barely any traffic bustling within its boundaries compared to the city centre. This makes it a fabulous place to have a picnic in spring, especially if you stop by one of the village’s rustic boulangeries en route.
Though the village may owe its origins to pastor Sully Lombard, who founded a cooperative to shelter working-class families, it has been gentrified significantly over the years. Today, one of the houses will set you back well in excess of 1 million euros.
If you want to check out this charming quartier for yourself, the area is a short walk from Porte de Bagnolet Metro, which is a station on Paris’s Métro Line 3.