Want to experience Paris like a local? Look no further than the bustling bohemian twentieth district, or “arrondissement”, in Northeastern Paris. Just off the beaten path of the more touristic Paris, the twentieth district is a lively mix of cultures, traditions and really has a lot of hidden gems to discover. Read on to learn about the best things to do in Paris twentieth district!
Once working-class, artist villages on the outskirts of the city, the Belleville and Ménilmontant neighborhoods making up the twentieth district were added to Paris proper during the 1860’s. These areas have managed to maintain their own unique identities despite being part of a large, international city. A true melting pot, the various areas of the twentieth district differ a lot from one another, but you’ll see that each one has its own special personality. Home to the historic Père Lachaise Cemetery, the stunning Parc de Belleville, and lots of great bars and street art in the Ménilmontant area, the charming twentieth district is the perfect place for a walk in the city of light.
Relax at the Lush Parc de Belleville
Situated between the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, and the Pére Lachaise cemetery, the Parc de Belleville is really at the heart of the hip twentieth district. Showcasing lush greenery, flowing waterfalls, beautiful places to picnic, and panoramic views of Paris, the 45,000 square-meter Parc de Belleville is a local favorite!
No matter the weather, the Parc de Belleville is one of the best things do in Paris twentieth district. In the Summer months, you’ll find chic Parisians sharing picnics and after work drinks on the lawns, and there’s weekly live jazz music during this period as well. If you’re visiting in Winter, don’t worry as there are plenty of covered areas to enjoy and the views of the city are often way better due to lower pollution levels. Easily accessible from either Couronnes or Belleville metro stations, you can plan on about two hours to really explore all the park has to offer.
Discover Parisian Street Art on Rue Dénoyez
Just off the bustling Rue de Belleville, this narrow side street is home to some incredible street art and murals. The variety of art really makes this street one of the best things to do in Paris twentieth district. Quite arguably one of the most colourful streets in Paris, you’ll enjoy discovering the local street art on Rue Dénoyez. Once a busy alleyway filled with local shops, in recent years the stores have been abandoned and their walls transformed into a giant canvas. From local, up and coming street artists to world-renowned names like Banksy and Fred le Chevalier, this street has it all. Since the artwork is constantly evolving from week to week, there’s always something new to see on Rue Dénoyez.
Enjoy an Apéro Belleville Style at Aux Folies
The twentieth district of Paris has long been home to artists, musicians, working-class folks and a diverse immigrant population, all of which come together seamlessly at Aux Folies. Located just off the lively Rue Dénoyez, this grungy café is a local institution. Once frequented by neighbourhood legends like Edith Piaf, you can’t beat the cool ambiance here.
Aux Folies has been serving coffee, drinks, and typical French fare since the 18th century! At Aux Folies, happy hour, or apéro as we like to say in France, starts in late afternoon. During this time, you’ll find throngs of locals getting cozy at quaint outside tables or sipping drinks at the bar. With beers at just €2.50 and cocktails starting at €4.50, you can’t beat these prices or this locale for a real Parisian experience.
Explore Local Culture at Pavillon Carré de Baudouin
Perhaps one of the best kept secrets of Paris twentieth district is the Pavillon Carré de Baudouin. Tucked away in the heart of the twentieth district, this cultural center is truly a hidden gem. Offering various art exhibitions and conferences throughout the year, every event is free to the public! There’s even a giant mural dedicated to local urban art. If the weather is nice, the gardens outside the Pavillon make a lovely setting for a picnic. To find the Pavillon, head to the angle of Rue Ménilmontant and Rue des Pyrénées.
Try Paris Street Food in the Belleville Neighborhood
One of the best things to do in Paris twentieth district is try the local food! The incredible blend of cultures, languages and traditions in Belleville make this neighborhood a great place for street food. Chinese Dim Sum, Tunisian bakeries and specialty supermarkets line the bustling Rue de Belleville. This lively street is the perfect place to visit if you’re feeling hungry and want to experience some new cuisine. Located at 24 Rue de Belleville, WenZhou Dim Sum restaurant is one of my favorites. Serving up fresh dumplings, noodles and other goodies each day, this spot has become a go-to for locals. Starting from Belleville metro, the Rue de Belleville leads uphill, and each block is full of tasty street food options.
On this street, you can also see the childhood home of French singer Edith Piaf. She grew up in the twentieth district, and left quite the legacy behind. You’ll find her childhood house at 72 Rue de Belleville. And nearby is the Boulevard de Belleville, which is home to lots of great street food options. If you have a sweet tooth like me, you’ll love discovering some traditional Tunisian pastries at La Rose de Tunis. Sweetened with dates, honey and other traditional ingredients, the delectable desserts at La Rose de Tunis are definitely worth a try.
Get Inspired at Père Lachaise Cemetery
One of the most iconic places to visit in Paris twentieth district is the Père Lachaise cemetery. This is the final resting place of prominent artists, writers, and musicians like Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Balzac, and Jim Morrison. As you may imagine, this is no ordinary cemetery, and is actually one of the most peaceful and beautiful spots in Paris twentieth district. Tree-lined cobblestone walkways lead you uphill through a maze of centuries-old tombs and statues towards the top of the cemetery. This hilltop is a perfect place to catch some sunshine, or simply soak up some inspiration and marvel at the twentieth district passing by below.
The little-known park Square Samuel de Champlain is an added bonus when visiting Père Lachaise. Bordering the cemetery walls, this little park is lush and quiet, which almost makes you forget you’re in Paris! The Square also has quaint benches and great paved walking/running paths if you’re feeling more athletic.
Now you know my recommendations of the best things to do in Paris twentieth district. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back afternoon or a lively night out, the twentieth has something for you. You won’t want to miss the chance to explore this amazing neighbourhood in Paris! Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you need any more information about anything or have any questions. Hope to see you soon in Paris twentieth district!