Patricia Lynne Duffy


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La Butte-aux-Cailles, Paris of Myth


by Patricia Duffy



In the magical Paris quarter called La Butte-aux-Cailles (pronounced 'La Boot-O-Kye"), visitors can feel they've stumbled on a time portal to an earlier, less hurried, more mythic Paris. A Paris of friendly cafés full of locals sipping cups of café noir and writing in notebooks or talking to friends, owners of bistros taking a break outside on the quarter's winding streets to chat with shopkeepers and clients alike. All the while, the visitor is surrounded by an amazing array of street art from grassroot artists, images out in the open air, liberated from the confines of galleries or museums.

This wonderful and mythical 'art of the street' dominates "La Butte", which feels more like a village separate from the city (and in fact was a village separate from the city until the late nineteenth century).


The white walls of La Butte's traditional Paris buildings are covered with big, bold, intense art works, ranging in theme from the philosophical, to the spiritual, to the earthy, and often a mix of all three.

Miss.Tic: "Even stronger than desire is illusion"
Photo by Patricia Lynne Duffy

Certainly the mix of qualities best describes the work of Miss.Tic (pronounced 'Mystique'), the Artist-Queen of the quarter, whose "pochoirs" (stenciled works) dominate its streetscapes with vivid images accompanied by wry and witty pronouncements: "I am searching for the truth and an apartment", says one, "Let's be happy while waiting for happiness", says another, "Poetry is an extreme sport" another observes.

For a guide to as to just where one is in this fascinating nabe, a "must-stop shop" is Paris-Mythique where owner Jean-François offers a collection of books on the art, history and meaning of this historic but little-known quarter in Paris' thirteenth arrondissement. Jean-François is happy to chat with clients and offers walking tours of this unique neighborhood, also noted for being the last hold-out of the historic Paris Commune of the nineteenth century. Be sure to visit la Place de la Commune de Paris


Photo by E.M.

If your walk leaves you with an appetite, head for Chez Mamane (just next door to Paris-Mythique), where genius cuisinier, Monsieur Mamane conjures up unforgettably delicious steaming plates of cous-cous (et aux bons prix!)

At night, La Butte comes alive, the contemporary street art illuminated by old street lamps as locals descend on the quarter’s cobblestone roads to meet and to eat!So when in Paris, be sure to shoot for La Butte and a mythical Paris.

Copyright © 2013 Patricia Lynne Duffy. All Rights Reserved

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