Belleville, Paris
Belleville is a neighbourhood
A neighbourhood or neighborhood is a geographically localised community within a larger city, town or suburb. Neighbourhoods are often social communities with considerable face-to-face interaction among members. "Researchers have not agreed on an exact definition...

 of Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, parts of which lie in four different arrondissements. The major portion of Belleville straddles the borderline between the 20th arrondissement and the 19th along its main street, the Rue de Belleville. The remainder lies in the 10th and 11th arrondissements.

It was once the independent commune (municipality) of Belleville
Belleville (commune)
Belleville was a French commune in the Seine département lying immediately east of Paris, France. It was one of four communes entirely annexed by the city of Paris in 1860. Its territory is now shared by the XIXe arrondissement and XXe arrondissement, but a neighborhood has retained its name: the...

 which was annexed by the City of Paris in 1860 and divided between two arrondissements
Arrondissements of Paris
The city of Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements municipaux administrative districts, more simply referred to as arrondissements . These are not to be confused with departmental arrondissements, which subdivide the 101 French départements...

  Geographically, the neighborhood is situated on and around a hill which vies with Montmartre as the highest in Paris. The name Belleville literally means "beautiful town".


Historically, Belleville was a working class neighborhood. People living in the independent village of Belleville played a large part in establishing the Second French Republic through their actions during the Revolution of 1848. In 1871, residents of the incorporated neighborhood of Belleville were some of the strongest supporters of the Paris Commune
Paris Commune
The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution...

. When the Versailles Army came to reconquer Paris in May of that year, it faced some of the toughest resistance in Belleville and in neighboring Ménilmontant
Ménilmontant is a neighbourhood of Paris, situated in the city's 20th arrondissement. It is affectionately known to locals as "Ménilmuche".-History:...

. The bloody street fighting persisted in the two eastern districts, and the last of the barricades is said to have been in the Rue Ramponeau in Belleville.

During the first half of the 20th century, many immigrants settled there: Ottoman Armenians fleeing systematic massacres
Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Genocide—also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Crime—refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I...

 (1915–1917), Ottoman Greeks
Greek refugees
Greek refugees is a collective term used to refer to the Greeks from Asia Minor who were evacuated or relocated in Greece following the Treaty of Lausanne and the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey...

 fleeing persecution in Anatolia around 1920, German Jews fleeing systematic Nazi persecutions during the 1930s
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...

, and Spaniards fleeing civil war in 1936
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. Many Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

ns and Tunisian Jews arrived in the early 1960s.

Belleville is home to one of the largest congregations of the Reformed Church of France
Reformed Church of France
The Reformed Church of France is a denomination in France with Calvinist origins. It is the original and largest Protestant denomination in France....

. The Église Réformée de Belleville has been in the area since shortly before World War I.


Today, Belleville is a colorful, multi-ethnic neighborhood and also home to one of the city's two Chinatowns, the other located in the 13th arrondissement
XIIIe arrondissement
The 13th arrondissement of Paris is one of the 20 arrondissements of the capital city of France....

 near the Place d'Italie
Place d'Italie
The Place d'Italie is a public space in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. The square has an average dimension somewhat less than 200 meters in extent , and the following streets meet there:*Boulevard Vincent-Auriol...

. Since the 1980s, an important Chinese community has been established there. There are many restaurants and associations as well as stores offering Chinese products. A fairly large and popular outdoor market is held there every Tuesday and Friday along the Boulevard de Belleville, where many local Île-de-France
Île-de-France (région)
Île-de-France is the wealthiest and most populated of the twenty-two administrative regions of France, composed mostly of the Paris metropolitan area....

 farmers sell their produce.

During the 1980s Parisian artists and musicians, attracted by the cheaper rents, the numerous vacant large spaces, as well as the old Paris charm of its smaller streets (Belleville was ignored, perhaps spared, during much of the architectural modernization efforts and reparations of the 1960s and 1970s, the greatest exception being the area around the Place des Fêtes), started moving there. Many artists now live and work in Belleville and studios are scattered throughout the quartier. Some abandoned factories have been transformed into art squats
Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use....

, where several alternative artists and musicians, such as the band Les Rita Mitsouko
Les Rita Mitsouko
Les Rita Mitsouko was a French pop rock group formed by guitarist Fred Chichin and singer Catherine Ringer. The duo first performed as Rita Mitsouko at Gibus Club, Paris in 1980...

 began their careers.

The demographics of the neighborhood have undergone many changes throughout the decades. While Armenians, Greeks, and Ashkenazi Jews were once the predominant ethnic groups, North Africans, and more recently, sub-Saharan Africans have been displacing these others.

Within the neighborhood there is a cemetery and park, the Parc de Belleville
Parc de Belleville
The Parc de Belleville, one of the parks and gardens of the 20th arrondissement of Paris, is situated between the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and the Père Lachaise Cemetery.-Description:...

, which ascends the western slope of the hill and offers, in addition to a panoramic view of the Paris skyline, a strikingly modern contrast to the classical gardens of the city center and the eccentric nineteenth century romanticism of the nearby Parc des Buttes Chaumont. A School of Architecture
École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville
The École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville is a well-known French school in architecture.Created in 1969, the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville melts its teaching since the beginning on a principle: a base of knowledge related to an authentic...

 is also located in Belleville.

The iconic French singer Édith Piaf
Édith Piaf
Édith Piaf , born Édith Giovanna Gassion, was a French singer and cultural icon who became widely regarded as France's greatest popular singer. Her singing reflected her life, with her specialty being ballads...

 grew up there and, according to legend, was born under a lamppost on the steps of the Rue de Belleville. A commemorative plaque
Commemorative plaque
A commemorative plaque, or simply plaque, is a plate of metal, ceramic, stone, wood, or other material, typically attached to a wall, stone, or other vertical surface, and bearing text in memory of an important figure or event...

 can be found at number 72. A true Bellevilloise, Piaf sang and spoke the French language
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 in a way that epitomized the accent de Belleville, which has been compared to the Cockney
The term Cockney has both geographical and linguistic associations. Geographically and culturally, it often refers to working class Londoners, particularly those in the East End...

 accent of London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, although the Parisian dialect is nowadays rarely heard. Belleville is prominently featured in the 2007 biographical film of her life, La Vie En Rose
La Vie en rose (film)
La Vie En Rose is a 2007 French biographical film about the life of French chanteuse Édith Piaf co-written, and directed by Olivier Dahan. Marion Cotillard stars as Piaf. The title La Vie en Rose comes from Piaf's signature song...


Other famous Bellevillois include film director Maurice Tourneur
Maurice Tourneur
Maurice Tourneur was an important international film director and screenwriter.-Life:Born Maurice Thomas in the Belleville district of Paris, France, his father was a jeweler. As a young man, Maurice Thomas first trained as a graphic designer and a magazine illustrator but was soon drawn to the...

, legendary French can-can
The can-can is a high-energy and physically demanding music hall dance, traditionally performed by a chorus line of female dancers who wear costumes with long skirts, petticoats, and black stockings...

 dancer Jane Avril
Jane Avril
Jane Avril was a French can-can dancer made famous by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec through his paintings. Extremely thin, 'given to jerky movements and sudden contortions', she was nicknamed La Mélinite, after an explosive. -Biography:...

 and popular singer and actor Eddy Mitchell
Eddy Mitchell
Eddy Mitchell is a French singer and actor. He began his career in the late 1950s, with the group Les Chaussettes Noires , taking his name from the American expatriate tough-guy actor Eddie Constantine...


In popular culture

Belleville has featured in several films including director Jacques Becker
Jacques Becker
Jacques Becker was a French screenwriter and film director.Becker was born in Paris, in an upper class background. During the 1930s he worked as an assistant to director Jean Renoir during his peak period, which produced such cinematic masterpieces as Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game...

's 1951 Casque d'or
Casque d'or
Casque d'or is a 1952 French film directed by Jacques Becker. It is a Belle Époque tragedy, the story of an ill-fated love affair between characters played by Simone Signoret and Serge Reggiani.-Plot:...

, starring Simone Signoret
Simone Signoret
Simone Signoret was a French cinema actress often hailed as one of France's greatest movie stars. She became the first French person to win an Academy Award, for her role in Room at the Top...

 and Serge Reggiani
Serge Reggiani
Serge Reggiani was an Italian-born French singer and actor. He was born in Reggio Emilia, Italy and moved to France with his parents at the age of eight...

. Albert Lamorisse
Albert Lamorisse
Albert Lamorisse was a French filmmaker, film producer, and writer, who is best known for his award winning short films which he began making in the late 1940s, and also for inventing the famous strategic board game Risk in 1957...

 set and filmed the 1956 Oscar-winning short film Le Ballon Rouge (also known as The Red Balloon
The Red Balloon
The Red Balloon is a 1956 fantasy short film directed by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse.The thirty-four minute short, which follows the adventures of a young boy who one day finds a sentient, mute, red balloon, was filmed in the Ménilmontant neighborhood of Paris, France.It won numerous awards,... in Belleville and featured many parts of the region that the Parisian government demolished in the 1960s as a slum-clearance effort and partially replaced with housing projects. Depictions of Belleville featured prominently in Sylvain Chomet's 2003 animated feature The Triplets of Belleville.

The Malaussène Saga, a series of crime novels written by contemporary author Daniel Pennac
Daniel Pennac
Daniel Pennac is a French writer. He received the Prix Renaudot in 2007 for his essay Chagrin d'école.After studying in Nice he became a teacher...

, is set in Belleville. Belleville is the subject of several French songs, including Eddy Mitchell's "Belleville ou Nashville?" and Claude Nougaro
Claude Nougaro
Claude Nougaro was a French songwriter and singer.Claude Nougaro was born in Toulouse to a respected French opera singer, Pierre Nougaro, and an Italian piano teacher, Liette Tellini. He was raised by his grandparents in Toulouse where he heard Glenn Miller, Édith Piaf and Louis Armstrong on the...

's "Le Barbier de Belleville."

Belleville has undergone much gentrification
Gentrification and urban gentrification refer to the changes that result when wealthier people acquire or rent property in low income and working class communities. Urban gentrification is associated with movement. Consequent to gentrification, the average income increases and average family size...

 over the years, similar to that of Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, New York. The similarities were so strong that it took on Belleville's name. Belleville Bistro in Park Slope, Brooklyn was 'named after the raffish hilltop Paris neighborhood.'

In The Sopranos
The Sopranos
The Sopranos is an American television drama series created by David Chase that revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the often conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads...

episode 76 ("Cold Stones"), Rosalie Aprile briefly dates a much younger, motorcycle-riding Frenchman named Michel, who hails from Belleville, Paris. Ro expresses a particular sense of kinship with Michel given his connection to a town with the same name as the New Jersey town
Belleville, New Jersey
Belleville is a Township in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township population was 35,926.-History:...

 where members of her inner circle live (e.g., Corrado Soprano) and do business (e.g., the Irvine-Cozzarelli Memorial Home).

In Puccini's opera "Il Tabarro
Il tabarro
Il tabarro is an opera in one act by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Giuseppe Adami, based on Didier Gold's play La houppelande. It is the first of the trio of operas known as Il trittico...

" (first part of the triple bill "Il Trittico
Il trittico
Il trittico is the title of a collection of three one-act operas, Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi, by Giacomo Puccini...

") the lovers sing of their shared longing for the place where they both grew up, "Belleville è il nostro suolo e il nostro mondo! Noi non possiamo vivere sull'acqua!" (Belleville is our own soil and all our world! We cannot live forever on the water!) in comparison to the dreary nomadic life of working on a river barge.


Traditionally, Belleville is leftist and votes accordingly for either the Parti Socialiste
Socialist Party (France)
The Socialist Party is a social-democratic political party in France and the largest party of the French centre-left. It is one of the two major contemporary political parties in France, along with the center-right Union for a Popular Movement...

 (the French Socialist Party), the Parti Communiste Français (the French Communist Party) or the Lutte Ouvrière (Workers' Struggle). Communist Party headquarters is just outside Colonel Fabien
Colonel Fabien (Paris Metro)
Colonel Fabien is a station on Paris Métro Line 2, on the border of the 10th and 19th arrondissements under the Boulevard de la Vilette....

 station, between Belleville and its northern neighbor La Villette.


Belleville is served by the Metro
Paris Métro
The Paris Métro or Métropolitain is the rapid transit metro system in Paris, France. It has become a symbol of the city, noted for its density within the city limits and its uniform architecture influenced by Art Nouveau. The network's sixteen lines are mostly underground and run to 214 km ...

 stations Belleville
Belleville (Paris Metro)
Belleville is a station on Paris Métro Line 2 and Line 11. The station is in the district of Belleville at the corner of the 10th, 11th, 19th and 20th arrondissements.-History:...

, Pyrénées
Pyrénées (Paris Metro)
Pyrénées is a station on line 11 of the Paris Métro in the 19th and 20th arrondissements.The station opened as part of the original section of the line from Châtelet to Porte des Lilas on 28 April 1935. It is named after the Rue des Pyrénées, which is named after the Pyrénées mountains.-Gallery:...

 and Jourdain
Jourdain (Paris Metro)
Jourdain is a station on line 11 of the Paris Métro in the 19th and 20th arrondissements.The station opened as part of the original section of the line from Châtelet to Porte des Lilas on 28 April 1935...


Films shot in Belleville

  • Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran directed by François Dupeyron
    François Dupeyron
    François Dupeyron is a French film director and screenwriter. He has directed 17 films since 1977. His film La chambre des officiers was entered into the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.-Filmography:...

  • La Vie Devant Soi directed by Moshe Mizrahi
    Moshé Mizrahi
    Moshé Mizrahi is an Israeli film director.He has directed 14 films in both Israel and France. Three of his films were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, I Love You Rosa, The House on Chelouche Street and Madame Rosa, with the latter winning the award...

  • Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon
    The Red Balloon
    The Red Balloon is a 1956 fantasy short film directed by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse.The thirty-four minute short, which follows the adventures of a young boy who one day finds a sentient, mute, red balloon, was filmed in the Ménilmontant neighborhood of Paris, France.It won numerous awards,...

    ), 1956, directed by Albert Lamorisse
    Albert Lamorisse
    Albert Lamorisse was a French filmmaker, film producer, and writer, who is best known for his award winning short films which he began making in the late 1940s, and also for inventing the famous strategic board game Risk in 1957...

External links

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