Paris 20th District

Paris 20th District is located on the Rive Droite and is commonly known as Quartier de Ménilmontant.

It includes:

Paris 20th district cafe terrace
Paris 20th district cafe terrace

Quartier de Belleville, Quartier Saint-Fargeau, Quartier du Père-Lachaise and Quartier de Charonne.

All these neighborhoods have a long history!

The villages of Belleville, Ménilmontant and Charonne merged in 1860 in order to form Paris 20th District.

Some 2000 years ago the Romans planted the slopes of Belleville and Ménilmontant with vineyards.

The vineyard area, which became known as Courtille, produced throughout the centuries a sourish wine known as guinguet.

Belleville-les-Sablons developed on the Colline de Belleville and was called Savies until the 18th century.

Mesnilium Mautenz developed around a Roman Villa or Mesnil (estate) located on the hilltop, south of Belleville.

Open-air cafes, inns, cabarets and restaurants were built during the 19th century because the village was renowned for the quality of its fresh air!

The edification of the fiscal Mur des Fermiers Généraux in the 1780s split the villages in two, half of their territory being left outside the city wall.

The Haute Courtille developed at the bottom of Rue de Belleville.

Countless local inns or guingettes were set up outside the fiscal boundary and turned the area into an entertainment district.

They served the local guinget exempt of tax; this attracted the crowds on Sundays and days off.

Each year a famous parade was held for the Carnival on Mardi Gras.

The Basse Courtille expanded near the actual Rue du Faubourg-du-Temple.

The Château de Ménilmontant or Château de St-Fargeau remained in Le Peletier de St Fargeau Family until the Revolution.

Louis Michel Le Peletier de St Fargeau, deputy of the nobility at the General States of 1789, was elected President of the Constituent Assembly in 1790.

A member of the National Convention government in 1792, he voted in favour of Louis XVI’s execution.

A few months later he was murdered by one of Louis XVI’s servants and amazingly his daughter was adopted by the Nation.

The Château de St-Fargeau was pulled down and its 23 hectares ground sold by plots.

The origins of Cadarona-Charonne are unknown.

The land and the château of Charonne, pulled down in 1857, were property of St-Magloire Abbey.

Charonne expanded into four distinct hamlets:

Fontaraby, Petit Charonne (near the current Nation Place), Mont-Louis (Père-Lachaise cemetery) and Château de Bagnolet.

Those last two were the most populated.

The villagers worked in the nearby vineyards or in the lime quarries.

In 1790, the hamlets officially merged and formed the commune of Charonne except for Petit Charonne, which was integrated into Paris.

Most of Charonne was eventually integrated in Paris in 1860 and the windmills, quarries and vineyards disappeared.

The only witnesses to the past are the bucolic names of some of the village streets –  Rue des Haies (Hedges St), Rue des Prairies (Meadows St)…

The rural Belleville and Ménilmontant saw their population rise fivefold within the ten years that follow the French Revolution.

Their integration into Paris in 1860 triggered more problem.

Sections of the villages indeed merged in order to form Paris 20th District.

Other areas remained outside the city boundaries and turned into modest and working class enclaves.

Extreme poverty and hard conditions of work and life of the local population pushed them to instigate the Revolution of 1848 and the Paris Commune of 1871.

Both riots ended tragically in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Paris 20th District therefore traditionally remained associated with left wing and anarchist values for decades.

Metro stations serving Paris 20th District

Line 2: Belleville, Couronnes, Ménilmontant, Père Lachaise, Philippe-Auguste, Alexandre Dumas, Avron, Nation
Line 3: Père Lachaise, Gambetta, Porte de Bagnolet
Line 3bis: Porte des Lilas, Saint-Fargeau, Pelleport, Gambetta
Line 9: Nation, Buzenval, Maraîchers, Porte de Montreuil
Line 11: Belleville, Pyrénées, Jourdain, Place des Fêtes, Télégraphe, Porte des Lilas

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