Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I spent my last day in Paris wandering blissfully - and blisterfully around Alesia. I almost feel I'm divulging a secret by telling you about it, as no guide books mention this area except as a place for cheap clothes outlets. Someone told me they'd heard it was lovely, so - keen to explore a new area I hopped on the M4 metro way down past Montparnasse to the 14th arrondissement.

Alesia is an architectural paradise. Streets of Art Nouveau houses - perfectly preserved with tiled doorways and details rub up against Art Deco and the first loft studios (1930's?). Giacometti's studio was here.

Every architectural style from 1895 - 1920 is represented, all somehow juxtaposed to create the perfect neighbourhood. After a while I got confused at just what style I was looking at - where's Kevin McCloud when you need him? There are even modern municipal council blocks in the mix, designed sympathetically with curved lines and similar materials. I realised that this is where the location of Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteil's house in the film Cache (Hidden) was.

I wandered every street for hours, and as I passed lucky residents they gave me a knowing smile.
The road suddenly turns to cobblestones and you are in the most beautiful, charming little mews at Cite Bauer and Rue des Thermopyles. Sneaking a peek into windows I saw gorgeous interiors, my guess is that this place is full of architects and creative types. Every nook and cranny - even garages had been converted into cool living spaces. It would make a great photography book. Alesian Interiors - must tell Taschen.

I only saw one other tourist couple. As I was rounding a corner I heard an English voice saying "...absolutely amazing! I mean I never would have known." Kevin, is that you? But no, it was just another Art Nouveau addict.

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