Butte-aux-Cailles and Bercy

What to see and do in the 12th and 13th

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The former Left Bank village of Butte-aux-Cailles in the 13th, near Place d'Italie and Chinatown (Avenues de Choisy and d'Ivry), may be surrounded by modern shopping malls and tower blocks; but an olde-worlde ambiance still prevails in its labyrinthine cobbled streets and toy-town houses, draped in ivy and Nemo's street-art. During the Paris Commune the Butte-aux-Cailles' residents were some of the feistiest fighters. Nowadays the only battles being fought are over a table in one of its numerous student bars (Le Merle Moqueur and La Folie en Tête are always packed), or at Chez Gladines (where you can eat heartily for around €10).


Just a few Métro stops away on the Right Bank, Bercy is the perfect example of successful urban rejuvenation: this former wine warehouse area is now a shopping village with restaurants, bars and a multiscreen cinema. There's also modern park, the Cinémathèque film museum and Bercy stadium (Palais Omnisports) for world-class concerts and sports events. Just across the Seine, at the foot of the BnF towers (part of France's national library), is where you'll find Paris' hottest party boats. Take in rock, pop and electro concerts at La Dame de Canton or dance the night away to DJ sound on the Batofar – which even sets up its own beach and bar on the quayside in summer.



Restaurants in Butte-aux-Cailles and Bercy

Restaurant Chez Papa

  • Price band: 3/4

Chez Papa is brilliant for a quick, filling meal that doesn't break the bank. This one on Rue da la Colonie is one of 11 in the Parisian chain, and the only one in the 13th. It’s a lively, very French place, often full of families because kids can eat so cheaply, and not be sushed. On offer is traditional French food focusing on hearty specialities from the south and south west of France, from

  1. 27 rue de la Colonie, 13e
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Sputnik

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4

A hip young crowd gathers in this rock-oriented bar, which doubles as a sports bar during important football and rugby fixtures, and trebles as an internet café at other times. Ever-changing art exhibitions add interest to the walls, and live music once a month draws an indie crowd. Fancy falling in love? Try the €8 love potion cocktail Philtre d'Amour, which is made from gin, Malibu,

  1. 14 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, 13e
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Des Crêpes et des Cailles

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4

The area of Butte-aux-Cailles is becoming steadily more gentrified, but Des Crêpes et des Cailles (a caille is a quail) is holding steady, one of the last outposts of tradition in the neighbourhood. The tiny crêperie only seats 18, and looks like the boat cabin of an old Breton fisherman. You can’t reserve, but the friendly staff make up for any wait. There’s a choice of more or less

  1. 13 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, 13e
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Bars and nightlife in Butte-aux-Cailles and Bercy

Batofar

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

In recent years the Batofar has gone through a rapid succession of management teams, with varying levels of success. The current managers have helped revive the venue's tradition of playing cutting-edge music, including electro, dub step, techno and dancehall nights featuring international acts. It's also a destination for early-morning clubbers determined to shun their beds.

  1. Face au 11 quai François Mauriac, 13e, Paris, France
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La Dame de Canton

  • Critics choice

In a previous life, the Dame du Canton sailed the seven seas. Nowadays she’s a party boat docked below the BnF (Paris’ national library) offering live music concerts in exotic wooden surroundings.  Its upper deck provides fab Seine views, while down below, narrow corridors and staircases make you feel you’re exploring a floating labyrinth. Music wise expect intimate, avant-garde acts –

  1. Port de la Gare, 13e, Paris
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Le Merle Moqueur

  • Rated as: 3/5

Amid semi-faded pseudo-tropical decor and '80s music, the Teasing Blackbird - a Butte-aux-Cailles institution - tantalises students and nostalgists with its splendid selection of rums (over 20) and a long list of cocktails. The atmosphere gets raucous after 10pm - get in early to grab one of the three tables.

  1. 11 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, 13e, Paris, France
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Sputnik

  • Rated as: 4/5

A hip young crowd gathers in this rock-oriented bar, which doubles as a sports bar during important football and rugby fixtures, and trebles as an internet café at other times. Ever-changing art exhibitions add interest to the walls, and live music once a month draws an indie crowd. Fancy falling in love? Try the €8 love potion cocktail Philtre d'Amour, which is made from gin, Malibu,

  1. 14 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, 13e, Paris, France
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La Folie en Tête

  • Critics choice

There’s a definite music theme in La Folie en Tête: instruments from around the world line the walls and the background sound flits between jazz, world music and rock, plus the occasional live performance. Early evening regulars come by for a tipple and a quick board game; but from happy hour onwards (6pm-8pm), the volume pumps up and folks pile in for the flavoured rums and house punch (laced

  1. 33 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, 13e, Paris
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Le Djoon

  • Critics choice

Don your glad rags and get ready to party NYC style: with its loft-style lounge, large bay windows and a vast curved bar, Le Djoon wouldn’t look amiss in Manhattan. Trendy thirty-somethings pile in for House, Deep House, Soul and Motown nights, spliced by a string of international DJs fresh off the plane from Détroit, Chicago, Berlin, New York and London (think Louie Vega, Theo Parrish,

  1. 22 boulevard Vincent Auriol, 13e, Paris
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Hotels in Butte-aux-Cailles and Bercy

Le Quartier Bercy Square

You'd never think that lime green and brown stripes would match bold silver and white replica 19th-century wallpaper, but it does at this boutique hotel (another of Franck Altruie's addresses) in the trendy 12th arrondissement. Rooms are small but inviting, often using coloured light to create atmosphere.

  1. 33 boulevard de Reuilly, 12e, Paris, France
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Hôtel la Demeure

This comfortable, modern hotel on the edge of the Latin Quarter is run by a friendly father and son. It has 43 air-conditioned rooms with internet access, plus suites with sliding doors to separate sleeping and living space. The wrap-around balconies of the corner rooms offer lovely views of the city, and bathrooms feature either luxurious tubs or shower heads with elaborate massage possibilities.

  1. 51 boulevard Saint-Marcel, 13e, Paris, France
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Hôtel St-Charles

On the southern edge of the Butte-aux-Cailles, quaint and clean Hôtel St-Charles has had a serious revamp and is now resolutely design-orientated. Rooms are small, but cosy in steely tones of grey and mauve. The all-white bathrooms are spotless, and there’s a wee patio for evening aperitifs. This is a top spot for escapism from the crowds and easy bistro access. In fact, you’re so close to

  1. 6 rue de l'Espérance, 13e, Paris
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Shopping in Butte-aux-Cailles and Bercy

Les Abeilles

  • Rated as: 1/5

Honey, beeswax, royal jelly and anything else that has been squeezed out of a bee’s behind takes pride of place in Les Abeilles (literally ‘the bees’). This tiny boutique, in the heart of Butte-aux-Cailles sells everything from candles to honey vinegar, honey mustard and its specialty ‘Miel de Paris’, gathered by owner Jean-Jacques from his hives in nearby Parc Kellerman. There’s also

  1. 21 rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles, 13e, Paris
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La Cure Gourmande

Had Willy Wonka decided to launch a biscuit chain it may well have looked like La Cure Gourmande. There is something irresistibly over-the-top about the shop’s turn-of-the-century-style tins, boxes and baskets, brimming with cookies, bonbons and chocolates. From the moment the vanilla scent hits you, you’re hooked; then the seller suggests you try the biscuit of the day. Before you know

  1. 26 cours St Emilion, Chai n° 40, 12e, Paris
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Album

Album, in Bercy Village, is a temple to the art of BD (bande desinée – meaning graphic novels, comic books and nowadays Manga), with folks flocking here seven days a week to rifle through the Tin-Tins, Sci-Fi strips and surrealist works by Moebius and Fred. There’s plenty of memorabilia too – everything from Simpson key rings and Spiderman mugs to limited edition figurines and giant film

  1. 46 cours St-Emilion, 12e, Paris
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