A wander through Mouzaïa
We are all familiar with the more central and more touristy neighborhoods of Paris: the Marais, Saint-Germain, Montmartre … And they are popular spots for good reason.
But sometimes it is nice to wander off the beaten track and explore some of the less-traveled corners of the twenty arrondissements.
If you have moved beyond central Paris, you are undoubtedly familiar with the majestic Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. But east of the 19th arrondissement’s most coveted attraction, tucked between the Botzaris and Danube metro stops, is one of Paris’s most distinctive and yet frequently undiscovered neighborhoods: Mouzaïa.
Mouzaïa is an oasis of villas or pedestrian walkways and stairways lined with street lamps, cobblestones and stunning houses (not apartments, houses!), most with their own gated yards.
This maze of small alleyways, centered around the rue de la Mouzaïa, began at the start of the 20th century on top of an old gypsum quarry.
Many of Mouzaïa’s houses were built under the direction of architect Paul-Casimir Fouquiau. These homes create one of Paris’s most colorful neighborhoods.
Originally, this was a working class neighborhood. These days I imagine that most white-collar earners would be hard pressed to afford something here.
If you are looking to rest your feet for a bit, grab a drink or a bite to eat, try Café Parisien (2 place Rhin et Danube, tel. 01 42 06 02 75) by metro Danube. The interior is cozy, the service is friendly, and there is seating outside in nicer weather.
The origins of ‘Mouzaïa’ don’t lie in France…
The name comes from gorges in Algeria where battles were fought in the mid-1800s as France fought to conquer Algeria. Historically, perhaps the name is outdated. But it would be a shame to take away this unique name from such a unique corner of the city.
So next time you find yourself in the 19th arrondissement, venture just a bit farther than your usual route, and step back in time into Mouzaïa.Image credits: Abby Gordon