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Gems of Paris by French Moments

The quiet and rural-looking rue des Cascades is a residential street in the 20th arrondissement lined with low and tall houses. This neighbourhood in the Belleville area will surprise you with its provincial atmosphere.

Rue des Cascades: A bit of history

Rue des Cascades, Paris
The village atmosphere © French Moments

The rue des Cascades in the 20th arrondissement of Paris is 475 m long. The street is winding up the hillside of Belleville, between Place Henri-Krasucki and number 101 rue de Ménilmontant.

The first mention of the street dates back to the 17th century. It was back then a pathway.

The name of the street means ‘waterfalls’ in French. It refers to the three ‘regards’ (or manholes) that were connected to the Belleville aqueduct.

A clever water supply system was put in place during the Roman era and was later abandoned. In the Middle Ages, it was rediscovered and used by religious orders such as the Saint-Martin-des-Champs abbey and the Templars (now in the 3rd arrondissement) to supply them with captured rainwater.

The regard Saint-Martin

Rue des Cascades, Paris © French Moments
Regard Saint-Martin © French Moments

The Regard Saint-Martin lies at the crossroads with the rue de Savies.

That small stone manhole once gave access to pipelines. The regard also served as an inspection chamber. People in charge had to make sure the quality of freshwater was ok (hence the French word ‘regarder’ = to look).

The regard Saint-Martin is set against the retaining wall that borders the street. On the pediment is a commemorative plaque from the 18th century. Written in Latin, it describes the extensive restoration work carried out on the manhole circa 1722.

Rue des Cascades, Paris © French Moments
Commemorative plaque on the Regard Saint-Martin © French Moments

The regard Saint-Martin was built on the ancient Savies fountain and was one of Belleville’s oldest springs.

Originally the water was flowing down the hill until the monks of the Saint-Martin des Champs had an aqueduct built in the Middle Ages to supply them with fresh water.

Rue des Cascades, Paris © French Moments
Regard Saint-Martin © French Moments

There are two other manholes found in the street:

  • the regard des Messiers (number 17) and
  • the regard de la roquette (number 41).

Both are not accessible to the public.

Most of the streets in the neighbourhood bear names referring to the captured rainwater:

  • rue de la Mare (Pond street),
  • rue des rigoles (Rivulets street),
  • or rue de la Duée (Gushing spring street).

More photos

Here are more photos I took on my last visit to the street:

Rue des Cascades, Paris
Vintage-looking stores © French Moments
Rue des Cascades, Paris
Early morning in the street © French Moments
Rue des Cascades Paris 13 © French Moments
A leafy street © French Moments
Rue des Cascades, Paris
A provincial atmosphere in Rue des Cascades, Paris © French Moments
Rue des Cascades, Paris
Low residential houses © French Moments
Rue des Cascades, Paris
Neo-Gothic house © French Moments
Rue des Cascades, Paris
Street art evoking Van Gogh, Rue des Cascades, Paris © French Moments
Place Henri Krasucki
Place Henri Krasucki, Paris © French Moments

What to see in the neighbourhood…

The area around Rue des Cascades contains a number of interesting little streets that have retained a country charm.
I invite you to stroll along the rue Laurence Savart, the passage des soupirs, the villa de l’Ermitage and the cité Leroy.
A little further on is the square of Ménilmontant and the Saints-Simoniens. In the shadow of the tall buildings, rue Taclet has kept its old-fashioned charm.

How to get there

Rue des Cascades, Paris © French Moments
Street plaque © French Moments
  • Location of the Rue des Cascades (link opens a google map): http://goo.gl/maps/tSQiaJkq2zK2
  • Closest métro stations: Pyrénées (line 11), Ménilmontant (line 2) or Gambetta (line 3).
  • Have you been to some curious/odd places in Paris? Share with us your Paris discoveries by commenting below! We’d love to hear from you!


Gems of Paris by French Moments
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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