I took a severe ribbing from Parisian colleagues when I announced that I would be spending a weekend in the 19th arrondissement. It’s an area of street poverty, grim tower blocks and daylight muggings, they told me.
So when I came out of Botzaris métro station, I couldn’t have been more surprised. The district is less hobo, more bobo.
Bobo – shortened from bourgeois-bohème – is a popular term these days to describe affluent urbanites with left-leaning views. Champagne socialists we might call them in English. Both terms are highly derogatory.
If they can afford it, bobos live in the well-healed arrondissements of central Paris. However, many have headed east in the hope of finding a larger home.
The 19th has done well from the influx. The once-shabby corner of north-east Paris feels very much on the up. Chic bars and restaurants have sprung up all around. And the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, on the site of a former quarry, is especially popular with the young families who have moved in.
“Bobo – shortened from bourgeois-bohème – is a popular term these days to describe affluent urbanites with left-leaning views”
We stayed with our friend Michael and his partner David. They have bought a cute terraced house in a leafy alleyway (pictured) that runs off the Rue du Mouzaïa.
It’s unlike anywhere I have ever stayed in Paris – in fact it felt more like a little two-up, two-down house you would find on one of Brighton’s old twittens.
Its little courtyard garden was the perfect spot to sit and enjoy a drink and a meal. Plus, Places des Fêtes metro station is just five stops from République and eight from the Gare du Nord, making it ideal for us.
If this is what’s it’s like to be a bobo, count me in.