It is this point which really differentiates it from the other ancient communities - such as Montmartre, Vaugirard and Batignolles - that were annexed by Paris at the same time. Although undoubtedly more touristic and superficially more attractive, the soul of these places was long ago sold to gentrification. Charonne is not a village of luxury food stores and antique shops, but rather a place that provides a home to those excluded from the city centre.
It is an area that supports the left-wing radicals, and it is no surprise to find a smart new library on the Rue des Haies named after the revolutionary Louise Michel. Typically, this impressive new facility is situated alongside a brick building housing a still operational - and judging by the numbers of people coming in and out - still clearly needed public baths.
|The Place de la Réunion|
The centre of the Place is also home to a market twice a week (on Thursdays and Saturdays), and this is the ideal time to visit. As you walk around the stalls under the recently planted Ginkgo and Stone Pine trees, you can easily question what continent you are in.
From the Place de la Réunion, take the Rue Alexandre Dumas for a final surprise - perhaps the city's best preserved art deco monument, the Saint Jean Bosco church. Although built 60 years after Charonne was absorbed into Paris, it was still designed with the local community in mind. The proof of it success? It's distinctive spire is known as the phare du quartier - the neighbourhood lighthouse!
Where to sleep
The Philippe Starck designed Mama Shelter hotel is mostly used by visitors to Paris as an economical base for exploring the traditional city sites, but as this converted car park is in fact situated in the heart of the old village, why not use it to explore Charonne itself?
The Mama Shelter hotel offers reasonable food, but it would be a shame not to venture out into the village. La Magnolia, on of several restaurants on the Rue Saint Blaise, sits in sight of a high-rise tower and - strangely enough - under the shade of a large Magnolia tree. On warm evenings the terrace provides an off-beat charm that feels a million miles away from the centre of Paris.