Little villages of Paris: the secretive rue des Thermopyles
One could say invisible Paris. Or secretive Paris. Hidden Paris certainly. So as we embrace the 3rd lockdown of this Covid-19 pandemic, i wonder: how can I explore Paris differently? Travelling outside of Paris is no option for us so my focus is on the less touristy neighbourhoods. As you walk along these little alleyways, you can easily question which town you are in. Come summer or winter, they ooze off-beat charm. Charm that takes you a large number of kilometres away from your usual Paris. In true style they have kept the soul of a colourful little village. In the first part of this “little villages of Paris series” we explored the charm of quaint Square Montsouris. We now continue this photo story with the secretive Rue des Thermopyles.
It’s a little gem in the southern part of Paris. Some call this side of the river Seine Rive Gauche. In other words the left bank. Down here in the 14th and 15th i am at home. This is my fief. My neighbourhood. Down here is much more residential so one could perhaps expect boring. Yet there are some hidden gems. I first discovered the secretive rue des Thermophyles after i moved in the area 18 months ago.
The secretive rue des thermopyles: an unexpected oasis
The street draws its name from the greek word Thermopylae. It is “a pass between the mountains and the sea in Greece, about 200 km (120 miles) north-west of Athens, originally narrow but now much widened by the recession of the sea. In 480 BC it was the scene of a defensive action by an outnumbered Greek force of 6,000 men against the invading Persians under Xerxes I. Among the defenders were 300 Spartans, all of whom, including their king Leonidas, were killed.” It is believed the owner of this former private street therefore choose the name Thermopyle because it is as narrow as Thermopylae.
The reference to the narrowness is obvious as i walk down the street. Most importantly the secretive Rue des Thermophyles is a one cobbled alleyway affair. One that takes you straight to a village somewhere in France. Branching off rue Raymond Losserand, lush greenery competes along both sides of the meandering street. And as spring settles in the fragrance of wisteria feels the air. The gentle midday sun wraps its arms around the street like a warm towel. A laid-back haven, the village-like feel is that of quiet beauty. A place to enjoy discovering the unexpected. It is above all this immersion in tranquility that gives its authenticity. It is what makes this former working class area so special.
Paris is known for being a beautiful city but as Charles Baudelaire wrote in 1863, “flâner” remains the best way to experience the city. A quiet saunter down this secret village that is Rue des Thermopyles is exactly that. Our exploration of the unknown littles villages of Paris continues here.
xoxo M. Let’s share our travel inspiration