Today, only a few reminders of these turbulent times survive, such as the Mur des Fédérés in Père-Lachaise cemetery recording the death of 147 Communards, the Bastille column, and a few streets bearing the names of popular leaders. Some of the old working-class character of the district lives on in places: narrow streets and artisans' houses survive in Belleville, Ménilmontant and off the Canal St-Martin, while rue du Faubourg-St-Antoine is still full of cabinet-makers and joiners. Much of the area, however, has undergone redevelopment over the last few decades. Crumbling, dank and insanitary houses were replaced by shelving-unit apartment blocks in the 60s and 70s, giving way in recent years to more imaginative and attractive constructions. In places, redevelopment has inevitably shifted older populations further out into the suburbs; the Canal St-Martin for example has now been colonized by the new arty and media intelligentsia. Elsewhere, particularly in Ménilmontant and the Oberkampf area, rents remain relatively low, attracting significant numbers of students and artists who have created a thriving, alternative bar scene. Further east, Belleville has been settled by sizeable ethnic populations, especially North Africans, Malians, Turks and Chinese, making it one of the most diverse areas of the city and an excellent place for sampling exotic cuisine.
As well as new housing development, Eastern Paris has also been the site of some of the city's most ambitious large-scale projects. North of Belleville, the old meat market area of La Villette is now a futuristic science museum and park, while down in the 12e much of the Bercy riverside area has been landscaped with a huge new park, and the old wine warehouses have been converted into shops and restaurants.
Pages in section ‘East’: Canal St-Martin and around, Parc de la Villette, Belleville, Ménilmontant and Charonne, Père-Lachaise cemetery, Down to the Faubourg St-Antoine, 12e, Vincennes.
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