From Pré-Saint-Gervais to Gare de l'Est
Starting point: M° Pré-Saint-Gervais (line 7B, a little over 2 miles, 19th & 10th districts), Quartier d'Amérique ("America's Quarter")
Go down rue de Mouzaïa. At no. 58, you cannot miss the large building, designed by Claude Parent in 1974 for the Health Ministry. All the other houses are much smaller, because of the quarries below. They are surrounded by tiny gardens, where roses and wistaria bloom in the springtime. At no. 37, make a small, "bucolic" detour by taking narrow villa (private alley) du Progrès*, until you reach rue de la Liberté. Walk down the street to go back to rue de Mouzaïa, where, at no. 7, the plain brick church (1914-16) is dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi.
Cross rue du Général-Brunet and enter Buttes-Chaumont Park. A pathway leads to a flowery roundabout where, on the left, avenue de la Cascade begins. Before being turned into a park by Haussmann, this was one of the city's worst places of ill-fame! The park was designed by Alphand (who else?:-)) and by Barillet-Deschamps. It was opened in 1867 and is the northern "twin" of Montsouris Park. It was particularly dear to the poet Aragon.
The small temple on the lake is a replica of the Sybil's temple at Tivoli, near Rome.
The "rustic" style reigns supreme: Swiss chalets and English cottages were designed by Davioud as keepers' quarters or as restaurants.
At the cross-roads, take avenue des Marnes on the right to the Secrétan exit. Take avenue Mathurin-Moreau in front of you. At the corner with rue Manin (named after the 19th century Italian patriot), stands the "Rothschild Ophtalmic Hospital" (1905).
At the corner of avenue Mathurin-Moreau with rue Georges-Lardennois, you will find the steps of rue Michel-Tagrine that lead to the Butte Bergeyre, one of the city's least crowded scenic spots. From the Butte you can enjoy a superb view over the Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre, tinyurl.com/44nvkcx (in French).
Avenue Mathurin-Moreau ends in place du Colonel-Fabien, where Brasilia's architect Oscar Niemeyer designed the seat of the French Communist Party.
Cross the square and take rue de la Grange-aux-Belles to the Saint-Martin Canal. After rue Juliette-Dodu, you have on your left the Saint-Louis Hospital, a mix of 17th century buildings, ordered by Henry IV because of recurrent plagues, and of modern ones, erected from 1984 to 1989. A must-see is the graceful "Carré", that looks like a place des Vosges without any porticoes... or any tourists!:-)
Once arrived on quai de Jemmapes, take the footbridge on the right of the revolving bridge. On quai de Valmy, turn right and take rue des Récollets to the entrance of square (public garden) Villemin. Inside the garden, take the alley on the left. The porch of the Villemin Military Hospital has been preserved, together with its old trees. There are plans to expand the garden down to quai de Villemin. Following the alley, you will find an 18th century building, the remains of the Récollets' Franciscan Friary. It was badly damaged by a fire in 1992, but petitions have been signed and there are restoration plans.
At the exit, you are at no. 2 avenue de Verdun, opposite Gare de l'Est, where you can choose from numerous bus lines or take the Métro.
* Just one among the many lovely private alleys along rue de Mouzaïa and rue du Général Brunet: villa Eugène-Leblanc, villa Claude-Monet, villa d'Alsace, villa Marceau, villa d'Hauterive, villa Paul-Verlaine, villa des Boërs ..., tinyurl.com/8ex2gmr