Saturday, 5 September 2015

fig tree city

c i t e  d u   f i g u i e r

Just the name was enough for me to want to go there. I've had it on my list of little Parisian passages I want to see forever, but somehow never made it there until this week. Luckily, I couldn't have picked a better day, a sunny & quiet, September afternoon.

The funny thing is that you'll often find these beautiful, hidden gems of Paris right in the middle of busy neighbourhoods & Cite du Figuier is no exception as it's a side street to rue Oberkampf, a street lined up with with cafes, restaurants & bars coming to live at night time (damn auto corrector wanted those to be bats & not bars which is quite different).

It has all the ingredients I like, cobblestone pavements, muted colours, old workshops turned into houses with those fabulous factory-like windows giving it a slightly rough edge, covered with greenery, pots, flowers & bikes to be found everywhere & most of all that very particular atmosphere making you fell like you've found an undisturbed, unrevealed haven in the middle of an otherwise bustling city.

And then there's always the mysterious part; how has this cul-de-sac passage been able to resist time, probably several city plans & somehow progress, maintaining a significant part of its authenticity?

The street used to be full of metallurgy workshops, especially copper, tool rooms & housing for working-class people. Not anymore. Since the 80's the population has gradually been replaced by artists, publicists, designers & more wealthy people, but not only. According to a documentary filmed in 2012 that I've been able to find, around 400 people live here & their composition - age, nationality, social group - is much more diverse than you would initially think. La Cite du Figuier - Reine Mazoyer

Near the entrance, you will find this impressive cactus lined against some colourful walls, giving you the impression, if only for a short minute, that you've landed in a desert town rather than Paris.

Last but definitely not least, don't miss this old stamping workshop turned into a beautiful, turquoise, oriental-style house, complete with exotic flowers, palm trees & carved elephants. The archways are originals from one of the pavilions of the 1900 World Exhibition.

And so, is there a fig tree? Yes, a beautiful one right at the entrance. You can't possibly miss it. Entrance at 104, rue Oberkampf.

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