Monday, 23 May 2011


Reasons that Belleville/Ménilmontant, in the 20th arrondissement, are awesome:

- Culture Rapide, the "Cabaret Populaire" on Rue de Belleville, which does poetry slams on Mondays and Tuesdays, in English and French, as well as acoustic sets, literary quizzes and other such events pretty much every other night of the week. And I haven't even got started on the cheap (for Paris) cocktails served with Haribos. 

- Belleville Park, with its terraces and shimmering view of the city from a hill. You can even marche on the pelouse. 

- The graffiti/street art. There is this: 

and plenty more, including, scrawled in pink outside Culture Rapide, "Poesie = Bonheur".

- There are lots of cheap Asian restaurants, including one where I ate a huge plate of prawn dumplings, an even bigger bowl of beef vermicelli soup, with mango and lychee juice, for less than ten euros. 

- La Miroterie in Menilmontant, which was sadly closed last night but to which I definitely will return, because it's a squat in a former mirror shop that does free jazz concerts on Sunday nights, and paying concerts other nights of the week ie. exactly the kind of thing I came to Paris for.

- The International, which is another bar we stumbled into last night (stumbled as in happened upon, not stumbled as in "could barely walk otherwise". I do the school run on Monday mornings with three very challenging children). The International does free concerts downstairs and yesterday we saw "Minor Sailor". It was half an hour or so of tuneful, mostly acoustic noise from a man who looked so indie it made me feel homesick (French men really don't go in for any of the following - skinny jeans, check shirts, oversized cardigans, hipster glasses, borderline anorexia levels of skinniness, two weeks of stubble, pained expressions and mumbling into microphones). Where was I? Jeremy Joseph, who is actually Icelandic, created ambient soundscapes with only a guitar, his voice, a child's handheld tiny keyboard and something to record these on loops and play them back immediately. He performed in front of projected photographs which looked a wee bit like they'd been edited with Hipstamatic. Perhaps the whole thing wouldn't border on cliché in Iceland, and perhaps it doesn't in Paris either. In any case, it was very nice Sunday night music. 

So, in other words, the 20th is my new favourite arrondissement. I have a feeling in a few years it might be a kind of alternative Marais, with prices to match, but it's nice to have discovered it now. 

6 weeks left of this city. People are leaving already. There is never enough time.


  1. I saw the Eiffel Tower from a plane last night and it made me think of you (I assume you live inside it). Culture Rapide sounds awesome.

  2. oh and no, I'm going home a week after my placement finishes, then doing some travelling in June before spending summer dossing around in Watford and Leeds. I don't really fancy spending any longer in Germany; it's been fun but I'm not as settled as it sounds like you are. then again, I think Paris is probably an easier place to be enthusiastic about than Bochum! I've deffo exhausted things to do here :)
    Enjoy your last 6 weeks, sounds like you're having an amazing time.