The Local Area
Paulin Méry is in the Butte Aux Cailles area of Paris, which is not touristy and is somewhat secret even to Parisians. If you want to be surrounded by other tourists and lots of vendors selling French memorabilia, don't stay here! If you are looking for something a little quieter, yet still with easy access to the rest of Paris, read on.
The Butte Aux Cailles has a distinct village feel to it, and the residents are friendly and all know each other. Located in the 13th arrondissement, it's where Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes launched a “Montgolfier” for the world's first hot air balloon ride in 1783. It's a small hill with cobbled streets, and not much traffic.
Paulin Méry is a few minutes walk from Place d'Italie metro station. This station is ideal for accessing the rest of Paris via the metro. Gare du Nord (the most common train station for Charles de Gaulle airport) is on the same line. The Louvre, Champs Elyssées, Place de Concorde, Bastille, and many other popular attractions are easily reached from Place d'Italie. (See the Directions page for more details.)
Butte Aux Cailles is not a touristy shopping area, but all your needs for food shopping or other supplies are within easy walking distance.
One of our favorite stops we simply refer to as "the honey store". It’s really called Les Abeilles and is a tiny storefront that gives you access to well over two-dozen kinds of artisan-made honeys, each available in multiple size jars. Also try their honey cakes and some of the other bee products like bee pollen, bees wax products, and bee keeping supplies. Take some home for friends and family! 21 rue de la Butte aux Cailles.
Around the corner from the flat is also a large, but well disguised, shopping center called Italie2 (across rue Bobillot from rue Paulin Mery). There are 123 stores inside from Printemps to FNAC and Sephora to Tati. There are hardware stores, grocery stores, bookstores and just about everything you would imagine needing. And all of it is at very reasonable prices.
The local outdoor market is called Marché Auguste-Blanqui and it runs from 8am-2pm Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. It is located along rue Auguste-Blanqui between Place d’Italie and rue Barrault (Metro Place d’Italie or Corvisart). There are at least 100 stalls filled with fresh cheeses, seafood, poultry, fruits, vegetables, spices, olives, and much more. There is even one stall with organic foods! Don’t miss the stall that sells lovely flatbreads grilled with cheeses and herbs!
Along avenue d’Italie there are a lot of necessary shops. At the corner of Avenue d’Italie and rue Vandrézanne is an organic grocery store. On the other side of avenue d’Italie is a car rental agency, the post office, and banks with ATM’s.
There are a few brasserie along rue Bobillot and around Place d’Italie, but the best restaurants are found along the winding streets of the Butte aux Cailles. Here are a few recommendations:
L’Avant Goût, 26 rue Bobillot, one of the areas best known restaurants and a bit pricey at 31 euros for 3 courses, but a constant pleaser. (01.52.80.24.00)
Chez Paul, 22 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, we’ve never eaten here but our friends tells us it is very good and a fair price. (01.45.89.22.11)
Le Volubilis, 10 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, (01.45.80.38.69)
Chez Gladines, 30 re des Cinq Diamants. This restaurant is always busy and they don’t take reservations. However, if you get there and sign up you can have a glass of wine at the bar or outside on the street and wait for your table. It’s well worth the wait for some of the best Basque food outside of southwestern France!
Le Temps des Cerises, 20 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, (01.45.89.69.48)
Des Crêpes et des Cailles, 13 rue de lat Butte aux Cailles. Our favorite place! It’s small (only room for about 20 people, with seating outside for about 8) and they don’t take reservations. But, when it’s a warm summer day it's lovely to sit outside and have dinner. They have lovely Breton crêpes and a variety of drinks that include some regional specialties from Provence. Be sure and try the Malice for dessert – dark honey that has been dribbled over a buckwheat crepe and cooked until it is carmelized. Simple but sinful!
In addition to easy bus and Metro access to the rest of Paris, the flat is within walking distance of a number of area landmarks (leisurely walking times listed).
Piscine de la Butte aux Cailles (5 place Paul Verlaine) is an art-deco styled swimming pooled supplied by a natural hot spring of a constant 28°C. (10 minutes)
The Théâtre des Cinq Diamants (10 rue des Cinq Diamants) is an old theatre that was known for its Folie Bergère shows between the two world wars and as a hideout for the Resistance during WWII. You can see their current show lineup here. (5 minutes)
The Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins (43 av. des Gobelins, Metro Gobelins) (01.44.61.21.69). This is the original site of the tapestry factories and these intricate and beautiful pieces are still made to this day. The tours start at 2pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (by reservation only). The museum is closed on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (10 minutes)
Rue Mouffetard is one of the oldest streets in Paris and has a lovely daily outdoor market that starts on its southern end at the church Saint Médard and runs north to the Place de la Contrescapre. Rue Mouffetard itself is a fun food market in the morning but turns into tourist central in the afternoons and evening. If you do have a hankering for something other than French food however, you can find it here (Greek, Argentinian, Italian, and even Japanese). (20 minutes)
Jardins des Plantes and three natural history museums (5th arrondissement) (25 minutes), with lush gardens and exotic plants and flowers, and walking paths shaded by trees.
La Mosquée is an Islamic mosque that also houses a hammam, a restaurant, a souk and a salon du tea. It is at 39 rue Saint-Hilaire in the 5th arrondissement. It is quite relaxing to spend a few hours in the hammam getting hot baths and massages and then retreating to the salon du tea for a hot plate of couscous, tagines, pastries and a glass of mint tea. Be aware that they open the hamman to women only on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Men are welcome on Tuesday and Sunday only. (25 minutes)
Tang-Frères (48 ave. d’Ivry) is a fabulous produce market that makes you feel as if you are really in one of the original markets in Vietnam or China. There are about 10,000 people that visit the store everyday and you can find ANY Chinese food ingredient that you can think of. Just down the street is the Paris-Store Supermarket (29 ave. d’Ivry). It is a larger version of the Tang-Frères store, but just as lively. Visit both if you have the time. (15 minutes)