Tourists Looking for Old Paris Charm and a Taste of la Vie En Rose Should Head to Belleville, a Largely Overlooked Part of the City and the Birthplace of Edith Piaf. Emma Vandore Reports

The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia), September 27, 2008 | Go to article overview

Tourists Looking for Old Paris Charm and a Taste of la Vie En Rose Should Head to Belleville, a Largely Overlooked Part of the City and the Birthplace of Edith Piaf. Emma Vandore Reports


Byline: Emma Vandore

ONLY five Metro stops away from Paris' town hall, Belleville has retained much of its working-class identity and still bubbles with concert halls, theatres and bars - some in which the famous Edith Piaf once sang.

Add to the mix successive waves of immigrants and young creative types out drinking, eating and carousing, and you get a funky atmosphere similar to New York's East Village.

It offers much for the visitor, not least a panoramic view over Paris that rivals Montmartre - but is blissfully free of peddlers and hawkers. Yet few tourists stray farther than Pere Lachaise cemetery, burial place for celebrities including Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Piaf herself.

Even the success of La Vie en Rose, which won actress Marion Cotillard a best-actress Academy Award and rekindled interest in Piaf's life, isn't drawing the masses to the neighbourhood.

"It's an area that hasn't yet been discovered by tourists," said Sophie Millot, a culture official from Paris' 20th arrondissement, or district, on the east side of the city where much of Belleville lies.

"At the moment, it's Parisians who are starting to explore."

Since Piaf's time, Belleville has suffered from a bad reputation, cemented by the 1952 film Casque d'Or (Golden Helmet), inspired by the true story of rival bands of Belleville thugs.

Near the site of a violent fight depicted in the film, Cyril Aouizerate, a philosopher-come-nightclub owner, has built a 172-room Philippe Starck-designed hotel called Mamashelter, which opened in September. He says the district is no more dangerous than other parts of Paris.

"People who come here like the cosmopolitan feel," Aouizerate said as he puffed on a cigarette.

Be prepared, though, for scruffier streets than the sparkling avenues and boulevards of central Paris. Once a hilltop village with a "belle vue" or beautiful view of Paris - from which the name is likely derived - Belleville was annexed to Paris in 1860 when city planner Baron Haussmann attempted to quash the locals' rebellious spirit cutting the village down the middle and splitting its administrative centre.

The man responsible for Paris' wide boulevards left the streets of Belleville largely untouched. Crooked roads that still wind their way around plots of land set out in the Middle Ages are part of the district's charm.

According to legend, Piaf was born as Edith Giovanna Gassion on the pavement outside 72 rue de Belleville in the depth of winter - attested to by a plaque outside the door.

Overwhelmed by contractions, her mother, cafe singer Annetta Giovanna Maillard, huddled in the doorway while Piaf's acrobat father went to call for an ambulance. On his way Louis Alphonse Gassion stopped in at various cafes and bars to celebrate, leaving two policemen to help deliver Edith on the footpath.

The reality, however, is more banal. Piaf's birth certificate states that she was born at the Hospital Tenon. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Tourists Looking for Old Paris Charm and a Taste of la Vie En Rose Should Head to Belleville, a Largely Overlooked Part of the City and the Birthplace of Edith Piaf. Emma Vandore Reports
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.