The colours of the Batignolles

The Batignolles does not attract many tourists. That, in itself, is part of its charm. But there are many reasons to venture there. Food. Gardens. Places for children to play. And colour, because that is what struck us both – this is an area filled with colour.

The restaurants are colourful.

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The grocery stores are colourful.

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The corner stores are colourful.

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The antique shops are colourful (we found some nice antique postcards in this one).

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The library is colourful.

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The street machinery is colourful.

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Even the residents are colourful (this lady has coordinated her pink outfit wonderfully).

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The residents also seem to have a sense of humour, if this bilingual pun is anything to go by.

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After a morning ramble, we had lunch under the trees at le Tout Petit, which seemed appropriate for a quartier filled with children. The couple on the left, who lived in the area, said it was very child-friendly.

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We later saw the couple from the café with their children in the playground that is part of Square des Batignolles. We can thank Adophe Alphand (again) for the design of this miniature wonderland. You enter down a winding little path, lined with Norman’s favourite concrete-made-to-look-like-wood.

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And there you will find more colourful residents of Batignolles: the ducks and waterfowl. Take a look at this little fellow’s beak. You’d never get away with something that gaudy in the Tuileries.

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Of course, there is the ever-popular black-and-white look.

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And the classic mallard colouring is never out of fashion.

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Across the rue Cardinet from the Square des Batignolles is a park so new that it is not quite finished. Parc Martin Luther King is just part of  the huge new Clichy-Batignolles development. Its long straight paths, its reconstruction of a wetland, and its skateboard facilities make for a contrast with the much older park. All very 21st century. Parc Martin Luther King seems popular with children and teenagers, and it’s nice to have both spaces in the quartier. Something for everyone.

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With so much colour, the area attracted its share of artists back in the day. Manet lived at 34, boulevard des Batignolles, which I failed to photograph when I was there, but Google Street View has captured its lovely blue door.

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The Café Guerbois on what is now the avenue de Clichy, was a noted hangout for Edouard Manet and his friends at no. 9 (it’s now a menswear shop). At no. 11, we spotted this façade.

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This was once the establishment of G. Hennequin, a merchant in “Couleurs Fines, Toiles et Pinceaux” (fine colours, canvases and brushes). Some Impressionist canvases still bear a paper sticker with the name of the shop on it. It functioned as an art supply store until 2010. You can see what it used to look like here.

We felt that if Manet or his friends could see the Batignolles today, they would still find places they recognized. In time, they would even find a new watering hole to replace the Café Guerbois. I wonder which of the many local cafés they would choose…

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Text by Philippa Campsie; photographs by Philippa Campsie and Norman Ball.

About Parisian Fields

Parisian Fields is the blog of two Toronto writers who love Paris. When we can't be there, we can write about it. We're interested in everything from its history and architecture to its graffiti and street furniture. We welcome comments, suggestions, corrections, and musings from all readers.
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13 Responses to The colours of the Batignolles

  1. barbara g. says:

    FANTASTIC! This is one my favorites Norman and Phillipa! Hope all is well, perhaps when your back home we can have a appertif! Wei Wei and the Guggenheim collection is opening soon at the gallery.

    Best, Barbara.

    Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

  2. This was charming. It made me think of the charming pictures of Paris grouped by colour by Nichole Roberts (Little Brown Pen) and her book Paris in Color. Do you know her work?

  3. Teepee12 says:

    Almost like being there. Thank you!

  4. Lynn says:

    This is so great — you were literally right in front of my house (I live in between the last photo and the blue library). I LOVE my neighborhood (my husband has lived there for 12+ years and insists it’s like a village). I sincerely hope that the huge development around the new MLK park (35,000 new residents by 2015 if I remember correctly) doesn’t change the feel of our ‘village’. Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Kiki says:

    this looks and sounds lovely indeed. not living in Paris but at 30km we are not familiar with much and certainly are happy to rely on blogs like this – I’m happy for Lynn too – sounds truly like a village in a village!

  6. Richard Ewen says:

    Sounds like a very nice place to put on my list of walks in Paris, which we sometimes have time for and sometimes don’t. If I follow the following route would I be close to your wanderings or should it include a wider path? We could also divert through the Cimetiére de Montmartre.
    Starting in the Square be Batignolles, walk along rue des Lacroix to Avenue de Clichy. Then northeast then east to Plc de Clichy, south along Blvd des Batignolles, right turn back to Square via rue des Batignolles.

    • That would take you around the periphery of the area, but you also want to wander along rue des Dames, rue de la Condamine, rue des Moines, and other cross streets. We also walked through the Cite des Fleurs, which is a private street off the avenue de Clichy, but open to pedestrians. Next time we plan to explore the area north of La Fourche, between avenue de Clichy and avenue de Saint-Ouen. What we saw of the area looked very interesting.

  7. vagabonde says:

    It’s funny I was brought up pretty close near Montmartre but never went to the Batignolles – I guess people stay in their quartier. I’ll go there next time. As you say, if Manet came back he might be able to recognize the area. In the US though, cities change so much, it’s hard to find familiar places after several years – they call it progress.

    • It’s true that people stay in their quartier. I was born and brought up in Toronto and now live in part of the city I never visited as a child. As for progress, well, the Clichy-Batignolles development is making that part of the city unrecognizable (like the Front de Seine and the area around the Gare Montparnasse), but there are pockets that have not been visited by 20th century “progress.” Every city needs a bit of both. I’m sure Manet’s contemporaries grumbled about the changes they saw in their own lifetimes!

      Philippa

  8. samdemparis says:

    If you want to read about a new building in the new headquarter of the Batignolles, look after my blog : parc17.wordpress.com, in french 😉

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