The 20th arrondissement isn’t known to be, ahem, spectacularly beautiful, but one day I decided to take a quick stroll around a neighborhood I kept seeing from my tramway stop at Porte de Bagnolet. What I would see everyday was a cluster of sometimes brick, sometimes stone buildings – charming, to say the least – that made me feel like I was both in the cobblestone streets of London and a small village somewhere in the French countryside. But I was still in Paris.
The thing with living in these hectic, yet exciting big cities is that sometimes all you want to do…is GTFO. We all know that leaving it all behind and moving to the countryside sounds great in theory, but let’s be real, we city people would be bored out of our minds after two days. So the next best solution is right in front of us: La Campagne à Paris.
Tucked away in the Eastern corner of the 20th arrondissement are these two cobblestone streets perched up away from the rest of the neighborhood. What was first built as a village of about 100 houses for the working class in the early 1900s has now, as you can imagine, completely priced a typical working class family…like way out of this corner of the 20th, where now real estate is mainly sold by word-of-mouth.
Just outside the entrance, this ram welcomes you.
Prepare your glutes.
I came across this sign that made me think that I was trespassing (Ahem, I would have gone anyway):
And then this one across on the opposite corner of the street that made me think I wasn’t trespassing (Again, I would have gone anyway):
The hardest decision you’ll have to make in your twenty minute promenade:
Go both ways:
The next best part of La Campagne à Paris: I was completely alone.
Okay completely alone for ten minutes, then things, magical things, let me add, started to happen. Picture this: I’m walking down the street at probably 1mph trying to notice every little detail on every windowsill, every doorstop, every rooftop, and then…is that a piano? I follow the sound until I reach one of the houses with their windows open, and behind their greenery, I see a couple chatting away with a cigarette. I turn around, thinking I’m probably being way too intrusive; I mean, I already felt like I was probably trespassing, so to be looking into to someone’s house, let alone with a camera hanging off my shoulder, probably wasn’t the best look for me.
So I turned around.
Not only do I see a father walking down the street with his two daughters, but twenty steps behind them is a gay couple looking for an address. They find it, and go in. Damn them! They live here! I walk down the street and out of one of the houses comes a cat:
Now I am definitely not a cat person, let alone an animal person, which I know is ironic for a vegetarian (and that’s a story for another day), but when a lil’ creature starts rolling around meowing at your feet, you can’t help but put its lil’ belly.
So in all, whether you’re in the neighborhood because you’re visiting Père LaChaise or you’re just looking for a reminder that there is life outside of smelly metros, noise pollution, and big city mentalities, venture out to Porte de Bagnolet for a sunset walk around La Campagne à Paris. Trust me, it’s worth it.