Belleville, which encompasses most of the 20th arrondissement of Paris, is a neighborhood that feels a bit like its own country. And that’s not just because the “Beautiful City” is currently Paris’s Chinatown, or, more accurately, its Little Saigon.
This sprawling quartier built on a hill was actually once a suburb of Paris, which was accumulated by the French capital in the early 1800s. But in 1871, the citizens of Belleville worked together with members of the Parisian working class to overthrow the French government in the quartier and form the Commune of Belleville, which lasted for 72 days and resulted in one of the biggest massacres in French history. In one week, known as “the Bloody Week,” more than 15,000 people were killed in Belleville’s fight for working class independence. This event even went on to inspire political leaders like Karl Marx when he wrote his infamous Communist Manifesto.