Well away from where the tourist coaches will bring you... this is however also Paris. We are in the 18th arrondissement, in an area somehow squeezed in between the rail tracks leading to the Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est. I did cover it only partly during a recent walk, but hopefully enough to give an impression of how this and similar areas in Paris are slowly transformed, basically for the better, but somehow contributing to make the previously less expensive parts become invaded by “bobos”. “Bobo” is a term which is short for “bourgeois” and “bohemian”. “Bourgeois” would refer to people who possibly are fairly wealthy, at least wealthy enough to afford a flat here – once the “cleaning” has taken place - , but maybe not willing or able to afford the traditionally more fashionable, even more expensive arrondissements. “Bohemian” could mean that they mostly would not be conservative right-wing, politically speaking, but ready to live together in a more (although less and less) mixed population. This is an ongoing process in large parts of Paris where it becomes more and more difficult for low-income people to stay, despite obligations and efforts by the City to offer “social housing”.
Anyhow, obviously some rehabilitation of this area was – is – needed. There are many evacuated buildings, preparing for new ones.
Already the closeness to the shuntyards is a problem.
On one side old warehouses have been replaced by a park, “Jardins d’Eole”, created in 2007 and partly remodeled since. This is obviously not one of the most fashionable Paris parks, but green space is always a good initiative.
On the other side, an old warehouse, “Halle Pajol”, has recently been refashioned and offers today shops, cafés, a library, a youth hostel…
… and under it you find a little park landscape.
Here are a few examples of what the area looks like today, with a mixture of older and newer buildings, including some high ones, constructed some decades ago and hardly fitting into the height restrictions which today are valid inside the Paris borders.
There are also some other small parks and gardens.
During the walk I also passed Rue, and Square, de la Madone – yes, there is a Madonna on a street corner, with a bakery named “Angelus” facing it and also, perhaps more surprising, an Asiatic supermarket with the name “Supermarché de la Madone”. You find a number of Asiatic shops and restaurants in this area. Here is also where you find one of three remaining deep spring water wells in Paris. This one offers water from a depth of 719 m (2350 ft). (I wrote about this and the other ones here and here.)
Before taking the metro, I passed also the “Marché de la Chapelle”, also referred to as the “Marché de l’Olive” after the name of the passing street. Different markets have been situated here since several centuries, but the present building in Baltard-type architecture dates from 1885 and has recently been renovated.