Italie, Tolbiac and the Chinese Quarter

An offbeat walk from the village-like La Butte-aux-Cailles to the Chinese district of Tolbiac.

Quite unusual! Between the village-like Butte-aux-Cailles, so calm and yet so close to the busy heart of Paris, the Chinese Quarter, typical of any Shanghai street, and the Cité Florale, full of flowers, you will really feel as though you are in another world!

1 Chinatown

Défilé du Nouvel An Chinois, Paris © DR

Mass is also given here in Cantonese and supermarket shelves are full of tofu, prawns and coconut milk. Neon lights flash in Chinese ideograms. Even Uncle Sam’s fast-food outlet has a pagoda roof! A change of scene guaranteed …

2 A walk in the Cité Florale

Cité Florale, Rue des Iris, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

In the Butte-aux-Cailles district, the Cité florale lives up to its name: little town houses covered in luxuriant vines, balconies full of flowers and pastel-coloured facades. Welcome to the country in the city!

3 La Butte-aux-Cailles

La Butte aux Cailles, Paris © OTCP - David Lefranc

The highest point at the Butte-aux-Cailles is measured at 63 m. It is higher than the Montagne Sainte Geneviève and the Butte Montmartre. Originally, this Butte was covered with windmills. The area was thronged with merchants, artisans, rag-and-bone men and coal merchants … The Bièvre River also attracted numerous fishermen due to its quantity of crayfish and other varieties. Today, the Butte-aux-Cailles boasts a number of lively bars and restaurants and is known for its village-like atmosphere.

4 Butte-aux-Cailles swimming pool

Piscine Butte aux Cailles, Paris © OTCP - Gerard Sanz

An artesian well of hot water was discovered in 1866. This led to the construction of baths and showers as hygiene was a major concern of the period. Later, these were turned into a swimming pool. Swimmers can therefore enjoy the historic setting of the three outdoor and indoor pools, all of which can be visited for free during European Heritage Days.

5 Mobilier National & Manufactures Nationales des Gobelins

Manufacture des Gobelins, Paris © OTCP

Jean Gobelin was part of a family of scarlet dyers, who around 1440 established themselves in Paris on the banks of the Bièvre. In 1667, Colbert grouped the tapestry, cabinet and goldsmiths workshops together to form the 'manufacture royale des meubles de la couronne' (Royal Cabinet-Makers). The name Gobelins thus became famous throughout the courts of Europe. As well as the Gobelins tapestry factories using high-warp looms, the site also houses a part of the low-warp looms from Beauvais, established in Paris in 1940, and tapestry from la Savonnerie, brought together at Les Gobelins in 1825. At the rate of 1 m² of tapestry per year and per high-warp loom, tapestry making continues in the traditional way.