The city of Paris is divided into 20 districts, known as arrondissements. The first arrondissement is located in the centre of the city, with the rest circling outwards in a spiral-shaped pattern. Each arrondissement is known for different things, and there are certainly a lot of stereotypes attached to each. For example, whenever I say that I live in the 19th, I usually get a “Oh that’s nice” that clearly means “Oh that’s too bad.” After moving to the 19th back in 2016, I quickly learned that this particular arrondissement doesn’t have the best of reputations. That didn’t stop me, however, from falling head over heels in love with it. Now, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in Paris. Here’s just a couple of reasons why.
Parc de la Villette
The Parc de la Villette is a relatively new addition to Paris, having been built in 1987 on the former location of the abattoirs of Paris. Today, this 55 hectare park is one of my favourite places in the city. It is home to the largest concentration of cultural spaces in Paris, including museums, theatres, concert halls, and the largest science museum in Europe. The Parc de la Villette is also home to countless sports leagues, picnic spaces, and playgrounds, not to mention the wildly popular outdoor cinema every summer. As an added bonus, the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris borders the park, infusing the air with the music of the next generation of musicians and artists. It truly is a magical place.
Canal de l’Ourcq
The Canal de l’Ourcq runs through the heart of the 19th, dividing it into north and south. It is lined with dozens of incredible restaurants, cafes, and public parks. There are also walking paths that span the length of the canal on both sides. Whenever I need a break from sitting in front of my computer, I just go for a walk along the canal and life is good.
Basin de La Villette
The Basin de la Villette is the manmade connection point of the Canal St. Martin to the Canal de l’Ourcq. It is also home to restaurants, movie theatres, and concert venues, as well as various festivals and activities. In the summer, you can go swimming, kayaking, or paddle-boarding in the basin, and there are motorized boats available to rent year round. Also of note, the northern end of the basin is home to the Pont Crimée, the last remaining lift-bridge in Paris, which is very cool to see in action.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont
As if the Parc de la Villette wasn’t enough, the 19th is also home to the stunningly beautiful Parc des Buttes Chaumont. This park dates back to 1867 when Napoléon III ordered its construction. Once the home of executions, slaughterhouses, and public refuse, the Parc des Buttes Chaumont is now home to almost 25 hectares of walking paths and green spaces. The highlight of the park is the towering Temple de la Sibylle, located 50 feet in the air on a cliff above the park’s central lake. If you take the time to hike to the top, you will be rewarded with a beautiful and rarely seen view of the city.
The Neighbourhood of La Mouzaïa
Just to the northeast of the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, there is a neighbourhood that most Parisians don’t even know about. But they should. Because the neighbourhood of La Mouzaïa is one of the most picturesque places in Paris. It’s a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets (no cars allowed!) and beautiful two storey houses (no taller!). It’s full of trees and gardens and beautiful vegetation, and there’s simply no other place in Paris like it. When (not if) I write my first bestselling book, I’m buying a home in La Mouzaïa.
Welcome to the 19th!
I didn’t plan on living in the 19th arrondissement. It happened entirely by accident and out of necessity. But now that I’m here, I never want to leave. The 19th is full of art and culture, public parks and green spaces, and a wonderfully diverse population. And yet most tourists never make it to this area. If you want a truly local Parisian experience, head to the 19th the next time you’re in town.
Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.