Neighbourhood Guide – 14ème

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The 14th arrondissement sits just below the Tour Montparnasse in the south of the city and is an arrondissement of Paris that is often overlooked. Many Parisians associate the neighbourhood with the disliked Tour Montparnasse, but the area has a lively history and so much to offer.  The tower was the only skyscraper built in the city walls and once it was built, it was felt that it disrupted the skyline of the city so much that a new law was put in place prohibiting anything like it in the future.

The 14th arrondissement used to be filled with rolling hills in the 17th century and was a popular hang out for students to go and recite poetry. The hills were levelled in the 18th century when Boulevard Montparnasse was built but you can still get a sense of the hills when descending Boulevard Pasteur into the 15th where you see the spectacular view above.  During Les Années Folles in the 1920s, the 14th arrondissement housed the rough, poor, die-hard artists while Montmartre was filled with the Manets and Degas indulging in the roaring 20s.

 

Today, the 14th is mostly residential but there are some wonderful spots that are worth the trek south to check out.  Take a walk through time at the Montparnasse Cemetery (3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet) where you can see the gravestones of many of France’s intellectual and artistic elite including Charles Baudelaire, Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, to name a few.

 

Continuing the artistic legacy of the neighbourhood, the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain (261 Boulevard Raspail) supports young and local artists by commissioning their work and exposing them alongside world renowned contemporary artists from around the world through their exhibitions.

 

If contemporary art is not your thing, head over to the Fondation Henri-Cartier Bresson (2, Impasse Lebouis), located on a quiet impasse in the heart of the 14th, and check out their unique photography exhibits. Fondation HCB has been open since 2003 and offers three exhibits per year in their beautiful space that used to be an old artists’ atelier.

 

On a beautiful sunny day, head south to Parc Montsouris (2 rue Gazan) and stroll through the 15.5 hectares of greenery. Perfect for jogging or an afternoon picnic, the park contains a lake, large grassy lawns and is even home to a meteorology station.

The recently opened Hexagone Cafe (121 rue du Chateau) is the perfect place for a quick breakfast or a serious cup of coffee to keep you going throughout the day. This adorable light-filled, friendly coffee shop is one of our neighbourhood favourites!

 

Le Severo (8 Rue des Plantes) is a carnivore’s heaven. Its owner was actually a butcher from Nivernaises before turning restaurateur. Dine here to experience the way Parisians ate back in the 1890s: steak tartare, grille rib-eyes, the crispiest of pigs’ feet and more. The meat is bloody, the fries are expertly fried and this place is in it for the long haul.

 

We love Le Cette (7, rue Campagne Première) in the summer for their delicious gaspacho but this charming neighbourhood eatery is wonderful year-round. French owner Xavier Bousquet has joined forces with Japanese chef Katsunori Nakanishi and is serving up heartfelt, delicious market-fresh fare.

 

There is no better shopping in the 14th that the famous Marcé aux Puces – Porte de Vanves. Stroll through the aisles and aisles of lost treasures and knick knacks to find the perfect accent piece for your home.

 

If you are a Beer fan, Bootlegger is the place for you! This tiny shop is packed with artisanal and craft beer from around the world. They have everything from the standard fare to unique local and regional brews and even have the matching glasses for many of them!

 

The 14th is filled with corners that are waiting to be discovered so take some time on one of these long weekends coming up to explore this often forgotten arrondissement!

 

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Comments

  1. Lovely article! I recently wandered around Rue des Thermopyles and had a fabulous coffee at Hexagone. There’s so many pretty cafes and photogenic corners in this quartier but I’m glad it’s not overrun with visitors!

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