Park it in Paris: Parc de Belleville

In the "Park it in Paris" series, I write about the city's parks - some of the best spots to relax, people-watch, and mingle with the locals.

There are some parks in Paris that intrigue me because people give them glowing reviews. Then there are parks that peak my interest because there are large gaps of knowledge that I want to fill in.

Parc de Belleville falls into the latter category.

Before visiting this park, I only had heard murmurs from others that this park is known for its prostitutes who surface at night. Yet its tagline in Google maps kept staring out at me, promising “a hilltop park with panoramic city views.” As you might have already gathered, I’m a sucker for scaling heights to get a view of the city. Especially one with a view of the Eiffel Tower. No matter how many times I see it, I still fall in love with her all over again, snapping more pictures though my hard drive is full of images of the Iron Lady. All I have to say is I’m not sure why it took me so long to trek over to the 20th arrondissement to have a look for myself.

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Peace and Quiet

I didn't put it all together until I looked back at my photos from Bryan's stay that I realized two of the major places we visited involved burial sights. This is not to comment on personality or favorite pastimes at all, but rather the result of what remains on the to-do list of one who has visited Paris a few times and seen the blockbuster sights. For most, the Catacombs and Père Lachaise Cemetery fall below the art museums and glamorous spots like the Champs-Élysées of must-sees.

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is a peaceful place to take a walk and explore. And it always has the additional benefit of being free of charge. I first mentioned a walk through this cemetery back in November on La Toussaint (All Saints' Day) when it was full of flowers, but any time of year when it's not too wet is a good time to go.

Many people seek out the largest cemetery within the limits of Paris to see the graves of the famous. Père Lachaise is the resting place of many greats like Edith Piaf, Gertrude Stein, Jim Morrison, Georges Haussmann, Marcel Proust...and the list goes on and on.

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