Parisian Living

Off the Tourist Path: Five of Paris’s Prettiest Secret Streets

by Diana Liu

In Paris, one’s never at a loss for romantic backdrops. But besides the city’s Haussmanian avenues, there’s also another side of Paris whose hidden charms locals prefer keeping to themselves. I’m talking about the city’s secret streets—bucolic pathways lined with picturesque residences that transport you to a cozy village in the South of France.

On left: In the Quartier de la Mouzaïa, located in Paris' 19th arrondissement, a quaint red door sits nestled in under lush vines on a sunny summer day. On right: The rue des Thermopyles, in Paris' 14th arrondissement, is quiet on a sunny day, light bouncing off of the abundant greenery.
Quartier de la Mouzaïa / Rue des Thermopyles

Maybe you’ve already heard of a few: Villa Léandre nestled in the hills of Montmartre or Rue Crémieux, the “most Instagrammable street in Paris.” Yet charming as they may be, they’re still part of the well-tread tourist path. In search of lush swathes of green, a profusion of flowers, and a retreat from the bustling city, I directed my steps towards the hidden passageways of Paris’ outer arrondissements. Come along for the tour, but if you’re going to visit, dear reader, please do your part to respect the privacy of the residents and preserve the magique by wandering alone or with a close friend.

Branches, heavy with summer greens, droop gently into an empty cobbled pathway in the Quartier de la Mouzaïa, a village-like neighborhood in Paris' 19th arrondissement.
Quartier de la Mouzaïa 

Cité Florale (13e)

The Cité Florale is the name of a triangular mini-quartier in the Buttes-aux-Cailles, Montmartre’s sister neighborhood that was historically dotted with windmills and vineyards. The streets, lined with individual houses and decorated with potted blossoms and lush vine canopies, are all named after different flowers. Except the outer street, which is named after my favorite French cheese: Brillat-Savarin.

In the Villa Santos-Dumont neighborhood, located in Paris' 15th arrondissement, passerby will find an explosion of greenery on this street, loved by artists.
Villa Santos-Dumont


Rue des Thermopyles (14e)

Head south from Montparnasse and you may come across the Rue des Thermopyles, a verdant passageway that feels almost otherworldly when the sun shines through the greenery that hangs overhead. Compared to the other streets, this one does get more foot traffic as it’s adjacent to the main street. So if you prefer a peaceful, meditative stroll, come on a weekend morning.

On left: A bright, mustard-yellow door can't hide behind the drooping vines on rue des Thermopyles in Paris' 14th arrondissement. On right: An open window sits open on a sunny day, light shining brightly on the abundance of leaves surrounding it.
Rue des Thermopyles / Villa Santos-Dumont

Villa Santos-Dumont (15e)

Just a short walk from Rue des Thermopyles, the Villa Santos-Dumont plunges you into profuse vegetation that feels as though it’s bursting out of the passageway and into the sky above. Originally constructed on land acquired in the late 19thcentury by sculptor Louis-Raphaël Paynot, the street was historically—and continues to be—a favorite residence for artists.

The Cité Florale, in the Butte-aux-Cailles neighborhood of Paris' 13th arrondissement, is filled with homes and potted plants spilling onto the tiny streets.
Cité Florale

Cité des Fleurs (17e)

Not to be confused with the Cité Florale in the 13th, the Cité des Fleurs is a private passageway west of Montmartre whose gated residences comprise a variety of architectural and botanical styles. You’ll find plants from palm trees to pines, as well as houses with entranceways designed as delicately spired greenhouses or with Middle Eastern architectural motifs.

On left: The Cité des Fleurs in the 17th arrondissement of Paris features gated homes with unique architectural and botanical styles. On right: Tiny pink flowers begin to bud in the Quartier de la Mouzaïa in the 19th arrondissement of Paris.
Cité des Fleurs / Quartier de la Mouzaïa 

Quartier de la Mouzaïa (19e)

Perhaps the least-known (and most unique) mini-neighborhood of them all is La Mouzaïa, tucked in a quiet corner of the 19tharrondissement. A collection of sloping lanes with petite houses enveloped by a low-hanging roof of foliage, a walk through these hushed streets feels surreal, as though you’ve tumbled into a hobbit-hole. To me, this is the true magic of Paris—intimate places waiting to be discovered if you dare to venture away from the city’s well-visited paths.

A lone tree provides shade from the mid-afternoon sun at the Cité Florale,  surrounded by neighboring potted plants in Paris' 13th arrondissement.
Cité Florale

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Written and photographed by Diana Liu for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a  fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service.

Written By

Diana Liu

Diana Liu is a Paris-based writer and photographer who is currently completing her Master in media and creative industries at Sciences Po. She co-founded ChopChicks in Paris, a blog and community dining experience that brings people together to discover the wealth of Asian restaurants and Asian culture in Paris. She's written about food, fashion, art & culture, and French politics for Inspirelle, ChopChicks, Wheretoget Magazine, and other publications. See more of her photography on her Instagram @sheandhercat, and discover Paris' best Asian restaurants and join her for dinner at ChopChicks in Paris. View Diana Liu's Website

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