The village in the Paris sky
When you next visit Paris, track down the very charming inner-city village of Butte Bergeyre in the 19th arrondissement. Not many people know of it, not even the Parisians. It is a very quiet, totally separate collection of beautiful houses and streets perched high up surrounded by what were once limestone workings. It was built in the 1930s on the site of the once famous Bergeyre rugby stadium. This was named after a remarkable player who died in 1914. He was just 20 years old.
Take the metro to Bolivar and then proceed on foot. Locate one of three sets of steps from either Rue Manin, Avenue Simon-Bolivar or Rue Michel-Tagrine. Take a deep breath and set off skywards to ascend the three hundred feet to the top. Your efforts will be well rewarded.
There are five paved village streets in Butte Bergeyre linking beautiful domestic properties. They all have self-contained gardens showing off thriving Wisteria and Rose bushes. The sight of the rich plantations fronting the grand residential buildings make an extraordinary spectacle in the summer months.
Butte Bergeyre is something of an independent community. All of the inhabitants seem to know each other and all share their adopted task of maintaining the beauty of their surroundings. Afternoon parties in the separate gardens are often shared by all of the residents in the same street. The echoes in the streets during the summer days can be heard from all of the laughing families and children.
This little village is always so peaceful; there are more domestic pets in the streets than motor cars. It is rather exclusive and the residents seem to have little desire to advertise their existence to the rest of Paris or to the rest of the world. Many of the homeowners, I’m sure, are engaged by the hospital Fondation Ophtalmoldique resting at the bottom of the hill.
There are some very interesting things to see in Butte Bergeyre. Take a stroll along the Rue Georges- Lardennois and find the Villa Zilveli. It is an unusual house built on the top of stilts that was constructed in 1933. The architect was the Austrian Jean Welz. Look for this strange construction idea behind the Virginia creeper in its garden.
Close to this structure is a well-maintained communal garden. It makes a splendid play area for the Bergeyre children. There are six bee hives within it that were installed in 2013. The bees produce 170 kilograms of honey each year.
There is also a rare Parisian vineyard. It is called the Clos des Chaufourniers. Around a hundred bottles of wine are produced each year generally fermented from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.
Move along a little and find the quite magnificent view of the cathedral Sacre Cour right across the landscape towards the North West in Monmartre. The panorama is quite extraordinary and some of the local residents will be able to view it from their house windows. A well placed park bench is placed along the street for visitors to admire it. This vista of the cathedral Sacre Cour must be one of the most spectacular sights in the whole world.
Butte Bergeyre is truly elegant, rather elite and quite apart from the duller suburbs of Paris that surround it. Take the energetic walk up the challenging steps that tower above you to find it. It is a bit like discovering a sort of secret garden. It is a true belvedere to admire the wondrous sights and cultures of Paris that lie beneath.