By the 1900s, music halls and cabarets had sprung up in the area, luring the mobs. The urchin- like singer Édith Piaf was born here in a hospital in 1915, not under a gaslight at 72 Rue de Belleville, as romantics would like us to believe. But she did sing for her supper on these streets. Waves of immigration from Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and North Africa have spiced up the mix – North African, Chinese, and Vietnamese shops and restaurants now line Rue de Belleville.
Stop at Lao Siam for a Thai-style duck curry, or for coffee at La Vielleuse, where you can eavesdrop on the natterings of Armenians, Laotians, or plain old Parisians. The area has a strong art vibe too, with contemporary exhibitions at the Atelier d’Artistes de Belleville. Ironically, Belleville does owe a debt to Haussmann: he commissioned Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, an old quarry-turned- verdant-haven with gushing waterfalls, Italian-style villas, a Greek temple, and lodges at each entrance.
Atelier d’Artistes de Belleville 32 Rue de la Mare;
Lao Siam 49 Rue de Belleville;
La Vielleuse 2 Rue de Belleville;
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont Entrances on Rue Manin and Rue Botzaris