Flâneries in Paris: Discover the Butte aux Cailles and Les Gobelins

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Flâneries in Paris: Discover the Butte aux Cailles and Les Gobelins
This is the 27th in a series of walking tours highlighting the sites and stories of diverse districts of Paris. I was keen to visit the little area of the 13th arrondissement called La Butte aux Cailles because its English name, Quail Hill, has such a romantic ring to it. Perusing the map, wondering how to build a flânerie around it, I spotted another intriguing name not too far away – Les Gobelins. Could there really be goblins there? Common sense told me no, but I liked the idea of following it up, so my next walk had acquired a structure: I would start at the quails and wend my way to the goblins.  My starting point was up on a hill, just a stone’s throw from the Corvisart metro on Line 6. Was it slightly disappointing to discover that the cailles in la Butte-aux-Cailles refers not to quails, but to one Monsieur Caille who bought a vineyard there in 1543? Actually no, because it turned out to be a pretty little spot which has retained a village feel, perhaps because – a bit like in Montmartre – being above the streets all around it sets it apart.  A street lamp in the Butte aux Cailles. Photo: Marian Jones My route up was a set of stone steps just across the road from Corvisart, up past the Jardin Brassaï where toddlers screeched cheerfully on colourful play equipment, then into the mysteriously named Rue des Cinq Diamants (5 Diamonds) where the restaurant on the corner set the tone for this quirky street. Carefully painted on the wall of the restaurant Chez Gladines, which serves Basque specialties – piperade, poulet basque, omelette aux cèpes – was the instruction “Port de cerveau obligatoire.” That roughly translates as “You must bring your brain.”  Street art on the Rue des Cinq Diamants. Photo: Marian Jones
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Lead photo credit : Chez Gladines in the Butte-aux-Cailles. Photo: Marian Jones

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Recently retired from teaching Modern Languages (French and German), Marian now has time to develop her interests in travel and European culture and history. She will be in Paris as often as she can, visiting places old and new, finding out their stories and writing it all up as soon as she gets home. Marian also runs the weekly podcast series, City Breaks, offering in-depth coverage of popular city break destinations, with lots of background history and cultural information. She has covered Paris in 22 episodes but looks forward to updating the series every now and then with some Paris Extra episodes.