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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.