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Views of the 13th Arrondissement

A lot of people, Parisians included, think of the ugly 1960s residential towers of Chinatown when they think of the 13th arrondissement. But this southeastern district of Paris is very large, and my own corner is quite adorable, if I say so myself. Here are some photos I took in May from my dog walking route along the Avenue des Gobelins, Place d’Italie, Square René LeGall, and the Butte aux Cailles.

The Mairie du XIIIème, my local town hall. This is where the weddings for my neighbors and military parades take place (this is the May 8th march for Victory Day). My apartment overlooks the roof, where the siren for the monthly air-raid tests is located. Luckily, I now have double-glazed windows.

The Place d’Italie, where metro lines 5, 6 and 7 intersect. It’s actually quite a nice square, separating the Chinatown towers to the east from the “Old Paris” buildings to the west.

A closeup of the Paulownia trees in bloom on the Place d’Italie. The lavender flowers smell amazing!

This is the balcony of a now disused UGC cinema on the avenue des Gobelins (#75). The relief sculptures were done by Rodin when he was still an apprentice artist.

The Manufacture des Gobelins, a 400-year-old tapestry-making establishment created by Charles LeBrun, decorator of Versailles.

The back of the Manufacture des Gobelins.

A lovely chair from the Manufacture des Gobelins, currently on display as part of the Modernist exhibition.

Detail of a staircase in the Manufacture des Gobelins.

The 13th is a favorite spot for many Parisian graffiti artists.

The Hotel Vert Galant and Basque Auberge Etchegorry, overlooking the Square René LeGall.

The bike path and sidewalk along the Square René LeGall (dogs not allowed in the park, but Pedro and Lena are happy enough with this row of trees).

In the heart of the Butte aux Cailles, more graffiti art.

An alley in the Butte aux Cailles with a constantly-changing graffiti wall.

One of the more peaceful Butte aux Cailles streets.

Wisteria gardens in the butte aux Cailles.

Some random contemporary architecture in the Butte aux Cailles.

Pedro and Lena posing with one of the medallions that marks the old Bievre River that once ran through this part of the 13th. It was used by the old tanneries and factories that once covered the Butte aux Cailles, and became horribly polluted, so it was covered over many many decades ago.

Hope you enjoyed the walk! 🙂


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  • Thanks for posting this. I used to live in the Chinatown area although not in the huge apartment buildings, and I still loved it. Both Avenue d’Ivry and Avenue de Choisy are great and lively places.

  • I love the 13th and am always meaning to stay there or at least swim in their fresh water municiple pool. Someday it will happen.Gerard Mulot has his kitchen in the 13th on rue Glacier -well worth a visit with Meeting The French tours!mercicarolg