Marked out by the ‘rue de Tocqueville’, the ‘Boulevard des Batignolles’ in the south, ‘rue Lemercier’ in the west and ‘Boulevard Berthier’ to the north, the atmosphere of this peaceful area of Batignolles contrasts with the atmosphere of its neighbour, the lively ‘Place de Clichy’. According to some it is a veritable hub for the Parisian “bobos” (the French abbreviation for “bourgeois-boheme”, a stereotype for those who lead an elegant, high-class, and luxurious lifestyle), this corner is overflowing with markets and little organic pharmacies, nice little restaurants each with mouthwatering menus and charming little streets to wander.
Since the second half of the 19th century, the Batignolles district has become one of the best places to experience the high culture of Parisian life. Paul Verlaine, the great French poet of the time, lived here for a while during his younger years, studying at a private school on ‘rue Helene’ (near to ‘l’avenue de Clichy’), then on the banks of the ‘lycée Chaptal’ located on the ‘boulevard des Batignolles’. Another poet from the middle of the 19th century, Stéphane Mallarmé, lived on ‘rue de Rome’ and often invited brilliant intellectuals there. Amongst the regulars of the district and its little cafes, the painter Edouard Manet and his friends of “groupe des Batignolles” can also be included, as well as Emilie Zola who died many years ago at number 14 ‘rue de la Condamine’.
The singer Barbara was born at number 6 on ‘rue Brochant’, the street linking ‘l’avenue de Cilchy’ to the ‘Square des Batignolles’, where the main path gets its name from. Finally, the most famous of Belgian writer-composers, Jacques Brel, took refuge in the ‘cité Lemercier’ (a path perpendicular to ‘rue Lemercier’) upon arrival in the capital. It is here that he wrote one of his biggest hits Ne me quitte pas. In short, Batignolles breathes literature, painting, culture…
The ‘rue des Batignolles’, the main artery of the area to which it gave its name, is filled with little boutiques and charming second-hand clothes shops, opulent cafés, greengrocers and other businesses from the area. The ‘rue des dames’, ‘rue des Moines’, ‘rue Lemercier’, ‘rue de la Condamine’, ‘rue Nollet’… the charming streets of Batignolles are ideal for sauntering around and giving in to the temptations of shopping. Discover its market, its little shops, butchers, cheese shops, and bakeries which form the lives of the residents. Take the time to bargain-hunt in the stalls of the Batignolles covered market: the products are of very good quality, with a friendly atmosphere and honest prices for the area. Don’t miss out on the Portuguese stand and you must taste its famous pasteis de nata, tasty little sugar-coated cinnamon pastries, which are the weakness of many of the occupants of this town.
For those who prefer organic products, you will be spoilt for choice with the whole organic market on ‘l’avenue des Batignolles’, which guarantees 100% natural products! And if you don’t want to pause on your way past, you can always push your caddy upto ‘rue Levis’, seen as the more high-end part of the commercial area. Following the true baguette tradition, with high-quality foie gras imported directly from the south-west of the country, selling an enormous piece of beef which would easily satisfy the appetite of an entire family, you’ll be overwhelmed with the amount of choice.
In need of a little greenery after exploring the markets, stalls and cobbled streets? You can still have a wander around the very trendy Parc Monceau or in the more discrete (although no less pretty) ‘square des Batignolles’. With the appearance of an English garden, this carefully rolled out square has a little cave, a stream, a waterfall and a small artificial lake. In great variety, the flowers provide a lovely exotic aroma. This impressive variety of plants was partly cultivated to rouse the sights and smells of walkers, but also to display all the power of the second French Empire, capable of providing vegetation from every possible climate.