There is a distinctive perfume to this neighborhood. On the face of it, la Butte aux Cailles has no monuments, historic landmarks or the typical Parisian charm that seduces so much. It does not offer any significant ethnic flavor to compensate for the modesty of its appearance. Yet there is a deeper magnetism to these humble streets that soon captures you and stays with you. The name of la rue des Cinq Diamants evokes the romance and adventure of a Jules Verne short story while la rue de la Butte aux Cailles recalls its past, a modest hillock outside Paris purchased by a Pierre Caille in the XVI century
The poetic ring of those names creates a slice of mystique for a place buried in the midst of a neutral arrondisement of Paris, the 13th. And the seduction deepens as you walk these long and narrow streets where you do not have to gaze up to high concrete walls of cement or stone. Housing is no more than one or two story-high, humble and discreet facades are the uniform look of the streets. Bars and small bistrots abound as if the area were teeming with revelers and tourists yet the quietness and reduced human presence add on more seductive contrast to the spirit of the place.
I confess an attraction to those urban enclaves in old and historic cities that seem to be magically cut off from the rest of its organic structure, not so much because of its architectural or historic imprints but rather because they possess an intangible and abstract melancholy that like a magnet feeds more emotions into the soul.