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Les Batignolles

Intro B

 

Week five in Paris, I thought it was time to break out of the east and head north-west to a neighbourhood in the 17th arrondissement called the Batignolles.

I also chose it because I’d heard that it was a regular neighbourhood, one that tourists wouldn’t think to visit because it was too far, too quiet and there was ‘nothing to see’. After last week’s close encounter with those that carry maps, it sounded ideal.

Quick history lesson… The name comes from bastillole or bastidiole, meaning small cottage, or the Latin batagliona, little war. Like Belleville, it used to be country and only became part of Paris in 1860. Haunt of the painter Edouard Manet and his mates. Once working class, it’s now a mix of elderly and families with young kids. Oh, and while most of the neighbourhood is sleepy quiet, the northern bit is all go; had Paris won this year’s Olympic bid it would’ve been transformed into the Olympic Village. Instead it’s now an enormous redevelopment site with sprawling parklands and zillions of homes and offices set to shoot up in the near future.

Let’s stroll…

 

Part 1: The quiet life

As with so many places in Paris, the neighbourhood is distinctly different from those around it. One moment you’re on Avenue de Clichy with its shady bars and discount shops, the next you’re in bohemian, arty Batignolles.

Only it seems to me to be more bourgeois than bohemian. Sure, we did wander past a sculpture class (chisel in one hand, vin rouge in the other) and a café full of singers, and the area definitely has an earthy feel. But the Batignolles is too expensive nowadays for the average bohemian.

Aside from the real estate prices, nothing much seems to have changed over the last 100 years in the main part of the Batignolles. It still feels like a small village where life revolves around the cafes surrounding the church, and the ‘square’ that’s actually a small, English-style park behind it, complete with ducks and a merry-go-round.

In fact, there are enough remnants of a bygone era to make you feel like time has stopped altogether in les Batignolles.

 

one must get the correct shoes made for driving la Citroën 2 CV

one must get the correct shoes made for driving la Citroën 2 CV

 

 

 

flowers and bread - nothing's changed for 100 years

flowers and bread - nothing's changed for 100 years

 

 

 

Christina, today, and in a former life

Christina, today, and in a former life

 

 

 

the all important scarf

the all important scarf

 

 

 

Chantelle wished she could buy those 1950s lights but she was just a poor mannequin

Chantelle wished she could buy those 1950s lights but she was just a poor mannequin

 

 

 

no monsieur, I won't forgive you

no monsieur, I won't forgive you

 

 

 

Paulette liked to ride her Vespa to Le Tout Petit

Paulette liked to ride her Vespa to Le Tout Petit

 

 

 

une grande sausage at Le Tout Petit

une grande sausage at Le Tout Petit

 

 

 

chisel and vin rouge, a dangerous mix

chisel and vin rouge, a dangerous mix :: 1

 

 

 

chisel and vin rouge, a dangerous mix :: 2

chisel and vin rouge, a dangerous mix :: 2

 

 

 

Part 2: Les enfants

If you live here, it’s highly probable you’re pregnant; this must surely be the baby boom centre of Paris. And you can see why. Aside from one intriguing street of old mansions and gardens (La Cité des Fleurs) it’s still apartment living. But there are plenty of places to burn off kid energy, from the area around the church to the old square with the ducks, and the sprawling new park.

 

Marcuse at Batignolles Square

Marcuse runs round Square des Batignolles

 

 

 

busy boy

busy boy

 

 

 

three walk, one sits

three walk, one sits

 

 

 

kid's world

kid's world

 

 

 

Andrea and Bruno

Andrea and Bruno

 

 

 

Bruno and his Hasselblad outside the church

Bruno and his Hasselblad outside the church

 

 

 

Alice in wisteria wonderland

Alice in wisteria wonderland

 

 

 

Soraya and Stephen at the organic market

Soraya and Stephen at the organic market

 

 

 

magically she was transformed into Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, to help her parents buy the best fruit & veg

magically she was transformed into Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, to help her parents buy the best fruit & veg

 

 

 

even the dogs are babies - 8 weeks old Hermes

even the dogs are babies - 8 weeks old Hermes

 

 

 

Aside from the high proportion of whipper snappers, there’s also a large population of elderly in the Batignolles, something we’ve so far not really encountered in Paris.

 

doing the crossword

doing the crossword in the square

 

 

 

90 year old Micheline and 8 year old Ludivine

90 year old Micheline and 8 year old Ludivine

 

 

 

a marriage made in heaven - Claudia and Jean, married 50 years

a marriage made in heaven - Claudia and Jean, married 50 years

 

 

 

purple and blue all over

purple and blue all over

 

 

 

Part 3: La pétanque – the players

The two petanque courts are sandwiched between the old square and the new development, currently a massive building site. But if you stand with your back to the cranes and concrete you could be somewhere in the country.

 

all eyes on the boule

all eyes on the boule

 

 

 

how you can tell whose boule is whose

how you can tell whose boule is whose

 

 

 

clearly mine is closer

clearly mine is closer

 

 

 

the dispute

the dispute

 

 

 

boule boys - Patrick, Raymond, Giles, Jacques

boule boys - Patrick, Raymond, Giles, Jacques

 

 

 

tree baubles

tree baubles

 

 

 

one's boules are kept under lock and key

one's boules are kept under lock and key

 

 

 

After watching so much petanque…

 

I see boules everywhere

I see boules everywhere

 

 

 

Part 4: La pétanque – as a spectator sport

Petanque may be a very simple game – the person who gets closest to the jack wins – but it’s quite addictive. Once you start watching, it’s hard to stop. When we visited another time there were quite a few old fellas chatting amongst themselves while they watched the various games in play. But one lovely old man stood on his own. He held on to the fence like a kid, glued to the proceedings, not moving a muscle.

 

the discussion

the discussion

 

 

 

the watcher :: 1

the watcher :: 1

 

 

 

the watcher :: 2

the watcher :: 2

 

 

 

watching every move

he may be deaf but he doesn't miss a move

 

 

 

Just outside the petanque courts is another spectator sport – cards. Unlike the boule boys, this was serious business, not to be photographed madame.

 

the card game

the card game

 

 

 

Part 5: New Batignolles

As country-esque as the petanque courts are, they are in fact just across the road from a massive redevelopment, the Clichy-Batignolles project. As I mentioned before, if Paris had got the nod for this year’s Olympics, the area – old railway sheds – would have been transformed into the Olympic Village. Instead, they moved on to Plan B; by 2015 there will be parklands, 3,400 new homes, shops – and the law courts, which are moving from the centre of Paris.

While the law fraternity are apparently not thrilled, the families of the Batignolles are; the old square as lovely as it is was built in 1876, well before the current baby boom. So the new parklands, which are already installed, are a welcome addition, offering play areas for everyone from small bubs to teens.

The edge of the Batignolles Cemetery a little further north has also undergone an extreme makeover. On one side, mossy old gravestones, on the other, along rue Rebière, a set of 10 buildings, all architect designed.

So much for sleepy old Batignolles.

 

right next to the petanque courts, a new part of les Batignolles is rising out of the ground

right next to the petanque courts, a new part of les Batignolles is rising out of the ground

 

 

 

ironwork, old and new

ironwork, old and new

 

 

 

the new park - Georgette in the rain

the new parklands - Georgette in the rain

 

 

 

Georgette and her rosy scarf

Georgette and her rosy scarf

 

 

 

the building's colour scheme, 'wisteria'

the building's colour scheme, 'wisteria'

 

 

 

bright

bright

 

 

 

But no matter how much the Batignolles are transformed, one thing is sacrosanct…

 

wouldn't dare mess with the petanque courts

hands off the petanque courts

 

 

 

The Wrap

While there may not be any ‘sights’ to see in the Batignolles, I enjoyed the walk back in time – and into the future too. It’s unlike any of the neighbourhoods we’ve visited so far don’t you think? Not ethnically diverse or chic or urban. More like an old French village, albeit a village with a major development on its doorstep. And I did love photographing the petanque. Nothing like asking a group of French men to show me their boules.

 

 

fun

fun and games

 

On the ‘home front’

No luck so far with finding a beret wearing, English speaking helper for Coco. But she and I are both trying harder with the home schooling challenge. And she’s going back to the Montessori school for a few days a week until we leave Paris – I love my daughter dearly but good lord I need a break. Aside from that, we’ve been enjoying the lead up to the French Presidential elections; by the time you read this, France may well have a new top dog.

 —

This suburb has been brought to you by Iain & Llyn

Rain again this week meant another late post. But it’s meant to fine up this week so hopefully I’ll see you next Friday.

 

  1. Karen says:

    Wonderful post, merci

  2. Wayne says:

    Chisel and vin rouge, a dangerous mix :: 1
    X
    Chantelle wished she could buy those 1950s lights but she was just a poor mannequin…
    Love it!
    All wonderful once again Louise.

  3. Nancy says:

    I looked at this amazing post again and again this week, it moved me so much Lou. From the father and son, the 50 years in heaven, and of course the boules. Just divine Lou. Your have captured a really special something this week and it moved me emotionally. x

  4. Nancy says:

    Oh and Hermes the dog! Fantastic but I have to say his colour is sooo Loius Vuitton !

  5. Liz says:

    Loved the ‘watcher’ esp #1 so cute..

  6. Kalinda says:

    Enfin ! Un chien !

  7. Louise says:

    Karen – Merci.
    Wayne – Chantelle is pretty fetching huh, both of her!
    Nancy – Oh, so glad. The couple married 50 years made me instantly wistful! I’m sure they’ve had their ups and downs over that time but they looked so so happy. She just glowed when she told me. (And yes, Hermes is very LV now you mention it!)
    Liz – He’s so kid like but so old at the same time I think. I couldn’t tell if he was sad or just very silent.
    Kalinda – For you madame!

  8. Marion says:

    6 years that i live in Paris and i’ve never be there (yet).. This post makes me want to discover this neighbourhood (my schedule for next weekend !)
    Thanks !

    • Louise says:

      Marion – It’s so easy to not explore one’s own city I think – before I did my first project, 52 Suburbs in Sydney, I barely knew the place. Glad I’ve inspired you to visit Les Batignolles!

  9. Olivier says:

    As usual, pure enchantment !

    • Louise says:

      Olivier – Merci! Close to your arrondissment, non?

  10. Wendy says:

    Hi Louise, I saved your last story up and read it last night. Now this instalment. I feel doubly happy, having loved them both. You have such a lovely eye for the wistful. I’m with those who say they want to go and explore Paris again, with different eyes.
    As to being a “bad teacher” I couldn’t even teach Lachie to tie his shoelaces – he won’t do any formal learning with me. But you are teaching Coco so much more on this trip than the three R’s. This will be a grounding for the rest of her life. xx

    • Louise says:

      Wendy – Thanks so much. Re-the wistful, yes, it’s the melancholic in me perhaps?! Paris accentuates it I have to say. There’s something dark about the place, in a good way. And I feel better after your shoelace comment! Merci.

  11. katerina says:

    hav’nt been following since Prince announced shows i Sydney We’ve all reverted to teenagers !!! Soooo excited 2 have this SUPER talent with us> Oh and if all goes well with French authorities Prince will B giving a FREE concert at the Eiffel Tower on the 14th of July 2012 As always your work is sublime.

  12. Katie says:

    Beautiful, Louise. I’ve been hanging out for this! ! If only you could stay and do every arrondissement. That would be perfect.
    Also, I’m not beret wearing, but let me know if I can help with Coco. I’ve got plenty of time on my hands over the next week. :)

    • Louise says:

      Katie – If you’re serious, please shoot me an email at 52suburbs@gmail.com
      Merci!

  13. Katie says:

    Oh, or you can get in touch with these guys: http://www.baby-speaking.fr/

  14. John Ellis says:

    Yup – heard half an hour ago about Hollande. Good decision by the French.

    I like your colour combinations in the diptychs – both elegant and witty. And very French.

    • Louise says:

      John – Amazing result, the first time the Socialists have been in power for 17 years! But I thought it was interesting that despite the fact Sarkozy was so unpopular, he still managed to win almost half the votes. As someone said last week, for many it would be a case of better the devil you know. But in the end it seems the French people are so desperate for change they’re willing to take a chance on someone who’s pretty untested. I’m very happy for the French, they are absolutely elated.

  15. Chantal says:

    Merci beaucoup! XXX

  16. Kristin says:

    beautiful as always. I am always in awe how you get the people to pose naturally for you – I admire you for that!

  17. Brent Wilson says:

    Too many great shots to choose from! “Nothing like asking a group of French men to show me their boules.” Way too funny Louise!

  18. Lisette says:

    Once again, I have been transported and delighted, and your captions continue to bring a smile to my face – merci pour les Batignolles!

    http://cutesuite.wordpress.com

  19. David says:

    Louise
    You are getting better with every suburb! And it’s good to know you get a refusal every now and then too!

  20. Gay says:

    Louisaaaa, fantastic…loved it all.
    But especially the shot of the crane with the cloud and sun behind…..perfect!
    And as my dog is almost identical to your dog, I have to say it is a favorite as well. Does Coco love the French dogs?
    Sorry no word from my German friends. Might be a dead end.
    Dying to see Berlin…when do you head there?

  21. Nat says:

    HI Louise – love the wisteria all through the post, especially Alice in wisteria wonderland. Love the colours in Christina’s scarf and those 1950s lights. Hope you’re getting better weather than here in London!

  22. Fiona says:

    Hi Louise,
    Stunning photos…loved this post….so colourful….the flower diptychs are gorgeous….and the boules…and your comments were très witty. If you haven’t already, check out the Fotopedia website/app for Paris…you will love this!

  23. Lauren Lou says:

    Hello Louise
    I’ve just come across this post via search engine in preparation to do a similar exposé on Les Batties on my blog, as this is where I l currently live, and I just had to leave a little note to say thank you for capturing our home away from home so beautifully. Despite living here for the past three years (I’m originally from Frenchs Forest, Sydney, and followed your blog while living there) I feel like I’m seeing my ‘hood for the first time through your pictures and words.
    I’m super intimidated now to do my own after seeing this! The way you can capture an area so magically through just a little stroll is just brilliant and inspiring. Thank you again, Lou xx

    • Louise says:

      Great neighbourhood to live in – I think that was Coco’s favourite in Paris. Don’t be intimidated – just snap it the way you see it – everyone sees the same thing differently don’t they? Bon chance!

  24. Libby G says:

    Hi, Louise! These Paris suburb posts are SUPER helpful and stunningly beautiful. My husband is being transferred to Paris to work for six months in Gentilly. We are Canadian and have three kids under 10. I plan to homeschool but only because I assumed I wouldn’t be able to get them into a school for such a brief period. Is there an alternative? They are in Montessori here at home, and we would love to continue that method of learning.

    We also get to choose the place where we live, although we must keep to the budget of the company. It’s tough to find something affordable, family-friendly, with a village atmosphere and an easy commute. Le sigh.

    I’d appreciate any help you could give. Thanks so much.

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