Asia in Paris

This part of Paris, in the 13th arrondissement, was completely transformed during the 1960’s and 70’s. Within this area you find what is referred to as the “Olympiades”. It seems that Paris had some ideas about being a candidate for the Summer Olympic Games 1976, but the candidature was never presented. However, there were some ideas of an Olympic village which gave the name “Olympiades” and buildings and places got names referring to previous Olympic sites, like Athens, Helsinki…

Here we can see what the area used to look like until the 1960’s … and what it has become today.

Actually, there seems to be only one building left. It used to be part of the car factory, Panhard & Lavassor. The later models better known simply as “Panhards” were produced here until 1967. The building we still can find is now transformed to all kinds of offices.

Finally, the newly created area was never occupied by Olympic athletes, but to a large extent by an Asiatic population. This is now the most important of the Paris “Chinatowns”. The buildings stood ready when a lot of refugees arrived in France during and after the Vietnam War. Many of those belonged to the “Hoa People”, Chinese who had been established in Vietnam for centuries. Refugees arrived also especially from countries like Laos and Cambodia. These countries were of course previously part of “French Indochina” and the French language was still to a large extent in use.

So, this is what the area looks like today, high buildings which would not easily get agreement from today’s city planners. Fortunately, if I may say so, the local mayor seems to be favourable to street art.

Asiatic, “Chinese”, shops, supermarkets, restaurants, bars… are present everywhere.

This building has been transformed into a Catholic church for the Asiatic population, “Notre-Dame-de-Chine”. It’s quite surprising to find Mary and Jesus with Asiatic faces.

There are several Buddhist temples around, sometimes “hidden” underground.

The Teochew (Chaozhou) population, of Chinese (Guangdong province) origin, but rather living (or having lived) in other Southeast Asian countries, represents an important community here and they have also their own temple.  

It's along these streets that you can find the most important Chinese New Year celebrations - see a post on my previous blog... and another post from another celebration (which actually took place elsewhere in Paris). 


Anonymous said...

Hermosas fotos como de costumbre. Me encanta la del niñito Jesus y su Mama con los rasgos orientales.
¡Esa primera foto con los farolitos chinos y las otras mostrando los supermercados y lugares de comida! Que ganas de estar alli...
Toda la vida he sido reverencial hacia esta cultura milenaria.
Mil gracias M. Peter por este fantastico articulo.

Creamcheese said...

A good look at some of the cultural diversity that live in Paris, M. Peter! I think the surrounding architecture is quite severe. The street art has tried to soften these vertical monstrosities.
Hooray for Street Art!
I have never heard of the car manufacturer Panhard & Lavassor, though looking at their later models the "Panhards" I can see why they ceased production. A cross between cute and ugly?
Great pic's,informative history, great post M. Peter!

claude said...

J'aimerais bien un jour aller dans le Paris Chinois.
La première voiture que mon Papa a acheté était une dina Panhard bleue ciel avec de beaux chromes.