On my last visit to Paris, I discovered its hilltop secret -- Belleville. I had wanted to go there after seeing Sylvain Chomet's animated film, The Triplets of Belleville, and walk up the steep hill where I had watched the character, Champion, cycle up.
Stepping out into the fresh air after arriving on the Belleville metro, you’d think that you’ve left France because of all the signs are written in Mandarin. It’s alright — you’ve just actually arrived in a culturally-diverse hubbub and one of Paris’ two Chinatowns.
Belleville has a long history of immigrants settling there from German Jews fleeing the Third Reich in the 1930s, to the Algerians and Tunisians who arrived in the 1960s, and the large population of Africans who dominate the area today. In the 1980s, when rent was low, the area saw in influx of artists and musicians, all of this combined together in the rich cultural soup of Belleville.
Walking up the hill towards Parc de Belleville, be sure to look out for all the street art, including a side street which is literally a “street of art”!
Upon entering Parc de Belleville, it’s hard to believe you are still in a city — its so quiet and tranquil. It is here you will find a magnificent 180-degree view of Paris, perfect for some lomo-panorama action!