Place d'Italie - Orly – Paris’s south endSee the next district
One of the modern faces of Paris is located in the south end. The major renovations that contributed to the Capital’s international reputation came about because of Orly Airport, the A6 motorway and the 13th arrondissement. Even so, we remain very attached to these sites for many reasons, for they are anything but banal.
Orly dethroned the historical Bourget Airport in 1960, and became the biggest of Europe’s airports at the time. On Sundays, families would visit Orly to watch the Caravelles and DC-8s land and take off! The A6 motorway, opened in 1960, with its 4x3 lanes, as in the U.S. It led directly to the Porte d'Italie. There, fifty-five 100-metre-high towers were to be built according to a plan masterminded by Pompidou and inspired by Corbusier, called 'Manhattan sur Seine'. These types of facilities have since developed throughout the south of the Île-de-France.
The vibrant life of the Place d’Italie “bridge” district resulted from it. If the pleasant cafés with their terraces under the magnolia trees and the large Italie 2 shopping mall appeal to you, they will be the starting point, in the east, of your discovery of Paris’s Chinatown, with a unique atmosphere found nowhere else in Europe.
At the foot of the towers, where night-time is as lively as daytime and where Chinese is the language spoken at McDonald’s, Asian restaurants abound, as well as Asian grocery shops, where an array of incredible products can be found. To experience life on another continent, come here on Chinese New Year or go to Tang Frères Asian supermarket.
And to the west, you can stroll through a miniature Panama, the Butte-aux-Cailles neighbourhood. There you will discover charming streets bordered by restaurants dating back to the Paris Commune. You’ll want to try them all: the Merle Moqueur, the Temps des Cerises, the Cinq Diamants, the Samson, the Paul, the Bouche-à-Oreilles. Some places let you pay for your drinks on a pay-as-you-can basis.
Further, at place Verlaine, the art-deco swimming pool, with its artesian well, is the only one in Paris that has stood the test of time. Not far from there, you can explore little Alsace and little Russia before walking through the Cité florale section of the Maison-Blanche neighbourhood.
In the Haussmann-designed Parc Montsouris, frozen in time, you can have lunch at Pavillon Montsouris before visiting the Cité universitaire and Belgrand’s Reservoirs that supplied clean water to the entire left bank.
You’ll do all this before succumbing to the charms of Paris’s 13th arrondissement, one of the Capital’s most appealing.