For those who do an web seek for “the good,” “essentially the most hipster,” or “the poshest” neighborhoods of Paris, Alésia will certainly not seem on the record. “Is it too far out?” one vacationer inquires earlier than making a reservation there. However Alésia holds delights for unsuspecting guests. Article by Cathy Yandell for Secrets and techniques of Paris.
The Historical past
The title “Alésia,” a avenue, neighborhood, intersection, and metro cease within the 14th arrondissement, commemorates the positioning of a shattering Gallic defeat by the Romans in Burgundy. All the opposite battles highlighted in Parisian metros and streets appear to be victories (assume Austerlitz, Iéna, Fleurus, Wagram, Ulm …). Why select a reputation commemorating defeat? I can’t reply that query, however one whimsical concept involves thoughts: to maintain the vacationers away from this irresistible neighborhood. In all of the streets radiating out from the multi-point intersection, discoveries abound.
You may hear it earlier than you see it — the bells of Saint-Pierre-de-Montrouge (82 Avenue du Général Leclerc) mark each hour and resound lengthily ten minutes earlier than every mass (three a day!). Constructed within the mid-nineteenth century, it appears to be like at first look like a nondescript Neo-Romanesque church with semi-domed chapels. However in case you step inside, surprises await. Above the altar (decked by 19th-century chandeliers) stands a marble ciborium (pictured), a type of cover that stood atop Byzantine tombs. The gold-surrounded Christ determine on the ceiling of the Virgin Chapel stuns by its brilliance. Saint-Pierre is probably essentially the most eclectic church in all of Paris, with parts from varied instances and cultures, from paleo-Christian instances to the 21st century. Welcome to a mix of France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey! It’s a visible deal with.
The Cafés of the Place d’Alésia
The cafés on the Place d’Alésia appear to name out to passers-by, relying on the time of day, the solar, and the temperature, since Zeyer faces southeast and Le Bouquet d’Alésia faces northwest. They each have these oh-so-Parisian wicker-looking chairs, and each welcome vigorous crowds relying on the time of day. Le Bouquet’s (75 Avenue du Général Leclerc) declare to fame appears to be its ample imitation wisteria draped above the terrace. Le Zeyer (62 Rue d’Alésia) has a cheerful hour from 4 to 8pm day-after-day, with the ever-popular Apérol Spritzes and Mojitos at €5.50 a glass. Each cafés are wonderful outposts for people-watching at any time of the day or night.
For Cheese Lovers
The Fromagerie P. Boursault (71 Avenue du Général Leclerc) is one other merveille. Whereas I’ve been wowed by different cheese retailers in Paris (notably within the rue Montorgueil and round Montparnasse), I’ve by no means discovered a extra spectacular one than this. Every bit of cheese is a curated jewel, every aged to perfection. The Saint Marcellin and the Beaufort are to die for, and the vendeurs Fasile and Emilie (pictured) will kindly clarify the distinction between St Marcellin and St Lucien (and all types of different cheese info) in case you’re so inclined. The supervisor, Yann, tells me that this little store (beneath totally different names) has been promoting cheese for over 100 years. In 1952 it belonged to Pierre Boursault, one of many creators (alongside along with his cousin Henri) of the famend “triple cream” Boursault cheese. It was additionally the place the world-famous Maître Fromager Roland Barthélemy first apprenticed as a younger man earlier than opening his first cheese store.
The Finds: Déstockages
Alésia was as soon as identified for its déstockages (clearance shops), and vestiges of these days are nonetheless current in a number of streets radiating out from the Place: clothes may be had for €10, skirts for €5, even shorts for €3. There appear to be kinds for everybody! Additionally value trying out are the half-price “grandes marques” (main manufacturers) within the Rue d’Alésia and on the Avenue du Général Leclerc.
- Inventory Rodier, 82 rue d’Alésia
- Évolutif, 109 rue d’Alésia (for males)
- Inventory Ober Denims, 111 bis, rue d’Alésia
- Eco’ Outlet, 137 rue d’Alésia
- Inventory Market 120 bis, avenue du Général Leclerc
Close by Nature: Parc Montsouris
The inimitable Parc Montsouris is lower than a 15-minute stroll from Alésia (48 Avenue Reille or Metro Cité Universitaire). Those that have seen Agnès Varda’s New Wave traditional, Cléo from 5 to 7, will instantly acknowledge the romantic tenor of the hilly paths and the waterfall. The decrease a part of the park contains a lake with an island (synthetic however beautiful), graced with genuine black swans. The steps product of wooden — or moderately, concrete original to seem like wooden — stay a nostalgic reminder of late 19th and early 20th centuries’ nature-fashioning, as within the Buttes-Chaumont and the Vincennes Zoo.
After I visited the Parc most not too long ago within the late afternoon, it was a superb sight. Whereas the laws in small print on the entry to the park explicitly forbid alcohol, a younger couple sitting on the grass was clearly having fun with a picnic with a bottle of rosé and two glasses perched in the midst of their blanket. Little teams of associates, households, and lovers of assorted backgrounds dotted the grassy hillsides. For those who visited Paris a couple of a long time in the past, chances are you’ll bear in mind the indicators in all of the parks of Paris, “PELOUSE INTERDITE” (actually “grass forbidden,” however a extra exact translation is perhaps: “Don’t even consider placing a toe on the grass, or a policeman will blow his whistle and sternly shoo you away”). Given this historical past, the sight of younger and outdated lounging, laughing, studying, picnicking, sleeping, and taking part in within the grass is a joyous revenge.
With all these treasures and pleasures to be uncovered, “Alésia vaut le détour”: this little-known neighborhood is actually value an exploration.
Concerning the Creator & Bonus Video
Cathy Yandell is the creator of The French Artwork of Dwelling Nicely: Discovering Joie de Vivre within the On a regular basis World (2023). Secrets and techniques of Paris Neighborhood Members can watch Heather’s interview with Cathy about her guide and her experiences dwelling in France all through a number of a long time of her life.