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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.