M° Place de Clichy, La Fourche, Brochant
Batignolles hasn’t quite made it onto the average sightseeing itinerary, but it’s an interesting neighborhood to explore for those looking to escape the souvenir shops and overpriced cafés of nearby Montmartre. Traditionally a working class neighborhood with a diverse ethnic population, Batignolles has recently become a trendy district for young créateurs and artists looking for inexpensive working space.
Begin at the Place de Clichy, a crazy intersection reminiscent of Times Square with busy traffic intersections and giant cinema billboards. Head up the Avenue de Clichy, where artists of the Ecole des Batignolles such as Pissarro, Renoir, and Degas (known today as the Impressionists) used to live and socialize. Turn left on the Rue des Dames, where the bohemian Eldorado Hotel, friendly Lush Bar and traditional Bistro des Dames create a hip and artsy enclave just a few blocks from crazy neon and fast-food joints.
Turn right onto the Rue des Batignolles, a pleasant shopping street which leads to the humble Eglise Ste-Mairie des Batignolles. The church sits in the center of a charming courtyard with stylish cafés and boutiques. Just behind is the Square des Batignolles, a romantic-style garden built in the late 1800s, with a duck pond, children’s playgrounds and gently rolling paths for strolling.
Continue along the Rue des Moines for some window shopping, then cut through the small indoor market at Rue Lemercier to the Rue Brochant. Turn left at Avenue de Clichy and cross the street to enter the Cité des Fleurs (the pedestrian gate is usually unlocked), an oasis of elegant, 19th-century townhouses with private gardens and a cobblestoned lane down the center.
Turn right onto Rue de La Jonquière and loop back onto the Rue Sauffroy. This colorful commercial street is the center of Batignolles’ African community, with the smells and sounds of Brazza, Douala and Kinshasa in the air. Turn left back onto the Avenue de Clichy.
End your exploration of Batignolles with a stroll down the busy avenue (or hop on the bus to La Fourche) to the Cour St-Pierre (entrance at 47 Avenue de Clichy, 17th M° La Fourche), a passage of old horse stables converted into artists’ studios and pretty gardens. A sign of great things to come for the Batignolles district?