75019: Not to be missed – Guide to the nineteenth arrondissement of Paris
When visiting Paris, or even living there, there is so much to see and discover. One lifetime would not suffice to roam its streets, explore its galleries and museums, indulge in its restaurants or admire its architecture.
There is nothing wrong with that. On the contrary, these spots are famous and historically relevant for a reason. But what if you felt like diving into some lesser known, yet as fascinating places? For the adventurers who seek a less touristy Paris, there is a perfect area to satisfy you: the nineteenth arrondissement!
Here is a little guide to this enthralling and laid-back neighborhood of the capital.
The 19th arrondissement: history and topography
Located in the north-east of Paris, on the right bank of the Seine river, le dix-neuvième shares its borders with the 20th, the 18th and the 10th. It rubs shoulders with the suburbs of Pantin, Les Lilas, Pré-Saint-Gervais and Aubervilliers.
In the 19th century, ruler of France Emperor Napoléon III achieved his urbanistic dream named le Grand Paris,. This saw the city limits expand and the number of arrondissements rise from 12 to 20. So in 1860, the nineteenth arrondissement was born, the result of a merger between parts of the old villages of Belleville and Pantin.
Belleville and Pantin were industrial towns, and you can still find some architectural remnants of this past while strolling through the area. For example, you can observe the entrepôts located on both sides of the Bassin de la Villette, as well as the entrepôts du pont de Flandre. Nowadays, they are all reconverted into offices, hostels and more.
The Grande Halle de la Villette comes to mind especially. This vast and impressive iron building used to be a slaughterhouse, but is now a thriving cultural center with diverse shows and exhibits.
Un peu de vert: parks and recreation in the nineteenth arrondissement
Writing about this arrondissement without mentioning one specific park would be a sort of outrage or blasphemy to any true Parisian or lover of Paris.
So without further ado, let me now introduce to you the lovely and unique Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
Opened in 1867 and created by Jean-Charles Alphand, this green space is one of the most vast parks in Paris. On a Sunday afternoon, you can find people lying in the sun, daydreaming under the rain, others playing soccer (or football, pick your side). Friends and lovers gather at the trendy Rosa Bonheur bar (named after a French artist), a staple of the quartier.
With an artificial lake, a suspension bridge, a rocky island (Ile du Belvédère), a grotto and waterfalls, there is plenty to enjoy and feast your eyes upon.
A little tip?
Walk up to the Temple de la Sybille (a small replica of the Roman Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy) and take in the view of the Butte Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur in the faraway distance.
Younger and larger than les Buttes-Chaumont, le parc de la Villette offers entertainment in a great array of fields. Where to begin?
Parc de la Villette
- First, you could visit the Cité des arts et de l’industrie: the biggest science museum in Europe.
- Are you more of a music fan? Well then head towards the Philarmonie de Paris, a new space which opened in 2015 Here, you can attend concerts, exhibitions and grab a bite in between. Designed by Jean Nouvel, the impressive building is dedicated to classical music mainly, but it goes beyond that!
- Another interesting venue is the aforementioned Grande Halle de la Villette. There, you can catch a music gig, enjoy workshops of different kinds, visit exhibitions or even see a circus sometimes!
- On the other hand, if cinema is more your jam, then this park is the right one for you! Every summer, you can bring food drinks a blanket and some friends to enjoy a film en plein air. So why not come down with same baguette, cheese and a bottle of rouge!
- If jazz is up your alley, do not miss the Jazz à la Villette Festival This is a nice way to welcome September and say goodbye to the warmer days.
Secret spaces in the nineteenth arrondissement
- Le quartier de la Mouzaïa, in the dix-neuvième, falls into this category. Not exactly a secret – since Instagramers do tend to adore this area- it still seems like a place outside of the hustle and bustle of every day life where time is standing still. This quaint neighborhood, located on the Butte Beauregard, displays charming streets and alleyways filled with flowers and little houses. You’d never know you were in Paris. Which is exactly why I love it. The Ville Lumière can always surprise you!
- Another unique spot to add to your itinerary could be la Butte Bergeyre. This quartier atop a hill can give you the impression of being in a village within the city, just like la Mouzaïa. This spot has its own little vineyard and a shared garden and the view of la Butte Montmartrefrom the maison Zivelli. This view never gets old! La Butte Bergeyre is the perfect environment for calm and quiet walks, far from the crowds and the noise.
Not to be missed: Canal de l’Ourcq and Bassin de la Villette
Hills and parks are great, but so are canals!
The 19th arrondissement is home to the Bassin de la Villette and the canal de l’Ourcq. The former is a junction between the famous canal St-Martin and the latter.
On both sides of the Bassin, you can find heaps of bistros and cafés! I mean, it is Paris after all.
- Le Bastringue on the Quai de la Seine is frequented by locals, the atmosphere is easy-going and the staff friendly. After a day spent playing à la pétanque by the water, why not have a meal or a drink with your friends over there?
- Or you could head to the opposite side of the water, on Quai de la Loire, and try the delicious Japanese food from Koko.
- If vin, fromage and charchuteries make you salivate, Le Comptoir du Canal is the place in go. Excellent service, excellent vibe, excellent wine selection.
- Rainy day? The Mk2 Cinemas, one on each bank, are there for you with an always eclectic choice of films to choose from. You are on Quai de la Loire but need to cross to the other side quickly? Mk2 thought it through and provides you with free boat rides. It takes about two minutes to go from A to B, easy-peasy!
Street art in the 19th
Street art is growing in the city, and the 19th represents one of the genre’s significant Parisian hubs. Along the canal de l’Ourcq you can find innovative and gripping creations by local and international artists.
Walking by the water, passing the painted walls and facades, you might think you are in an open-air gallery. And this is somewhat the case! In 2018, the sixth iteration of the Festival Ourcq Living Colors was held, an event celebrating street art. Artsists who create on different sites along the Ourcq are invited for a couple of days of the festival.
However, the whole arrondissement is home to street art, you just need to know where to look! Or you can let yourself get lost in the quartier and you’ll be surprised by stumbling upon a beautiful mural here and there.
And a few more treasures of the nineteenth arrondissement…
There is so much to see and do in the 19th, I could write a whole book about the 19eme alone.
So when you are in Paris, do not miss the opportunity to visit this multifaceted, trendy, laid-back and artsy neighborhood. Here is a short list of more places which are also worth a stop:
- La Gare: a fairly new jazz venue for the cool cat within you
- Kiez Kanal: German cuisine by the canal!
- Markets: marché couvert Sécrétan, marché place des Fêtes, marché Villette
- Le CENTQUATRE-PARIS: a fantastic cultural center, residence for artists, production and diffusion of art. This ‘collaborative artistic platform’ has shows, spaces for artistic start-ups, workshops, exhibits, and more. Nothing says art and innovation like le CENTQUATRE-PARIS. Furthermore, the architecture is impressive, and you can sip coffee at the Café Caché. Perfect day!
- Paname Brewing Company: Beer? Oui! The 19eme had its own brewing company. Both a beer brewing spot and a restaurant, by the water, what’s not to like?
- Tintamare: Scrumptious Lebanese restaurant on Avenue Jean-Jaurès
- Rotonde de la Villette: a gorgeous building and meeting point. This spot is the frontier between the canal St-Martin and the Bassin, near the MK2 cinemas and metro stations. This architectural beauty is now host to the Grand Marché Stalingrad.
Start your exploration of this arrondissement with one of these spots… perhaps?
Have you ever visited the nineteenth arrondissement? Do you have anything to add to our guide? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!
1. © Mélissa Serrano
2. Paris and its closest suburbs, by The Promenader via Wikipedia
3. Parc des Buttes Chaumont, by Traktorminze via Wikipedia
4. Jazz à la Villette, by Sophie Chivet via Parisinfo.com
5. Quartier de la Mouzaia, by Emile Lomard via Flickr
6. Canal St Martin, by David Monniaux via Wikipedia
7. Le chemin des dames, by mamasuco via Flickr
8. Ponton de la P.B.C, by Jeanne Menjoulet via Flickr