If you grow tired of traffic and tourist masses around the most iconic spots of Paris, hop on a VéLib and head for the 20th arrondissement. Just above lush and hip Parc de Belleville, cosy corner bistro Moncoeur Belleville offers stunning views over Paris and a perfect setting for a delicious Sunday get-together.
When I lived south of Père-Lachaise last summer, I loved to spend most of my days endlessly walking and cycling around the city. Sometimes on Sundays it felt as if half of the restaurants were closed, or at least it took a while to find something suitable. Luckily I happened to pass by Moncoeur Belleville on my very first Sunday, since its brunch (19 €) is among the nicest in Paris. Nothing supercreative or exciting, but a place you always left with a smile on your face. And to be honest, during a brunch I don’t even want anything too experimental.
The panoramic terrace is highly popular among the locals, so book a table or go early – or only later when the brunch is about to end. If you mess up with timing, don’t turn away. Despite other people also waiting for a table, it never took long to fit in. And if you are really late, never mind: atypical for Paris, Moncoeur Belleville is open past midnight on Sunday too.
Towards the evening, in summer weekends people gather for outdoor concerts and DJ gigs in the park below the restaurant. One of the coolest ways to blend among the Parisians!
On Sunday afternoons the terrace of Moncouer Belleville seems to be strongly favoured by young hipsters and 30+ couples with small babies, but the moment I start to think I’m the only misfit in the crowd, I notice a stylish elderly lady with a book and a big chapeau of the old days. What a nonchalant grace she carries! I decide to be just like her when I get old.
Once I popped in for a lunch during the week and ordered classic bavette (pictured in the main photo). Still among the most delicious I have tried – thanks to the supersharp mustard giving perfect company to that tender, very well prepared flank steak.
And the wine? Just order a ¼, ½ or whole carafe of simple sancerre, lean back and enjoy this peaceful and fascinating residential block with magnificent urban views. At least for a wine professional like me it was a refreshing experience to forget about analytical tasting for a while. For those with more thirst, Moncoeur Belleville offers organic wines from Languedoc, Côtes-du-Rhône and Bourgogne as well as delicious cocktails. I never tried any of their reds as the summer was so unbelievably warm.
Writing this here in eternally grey and rainy Finland, I’m already dreaming about the next time I get to dip my toes in the waters of Parc de Belleville after a relaxed Sunday meal. Or maybe I’ll go already before? Unlike some people have reported in Trip Advisor, I always received hearty and groovy service at Moncoeur Belleville. Sometimes one had to wait a bit, yes, but when something is hugely popular, I think there is no other way.
Last but not least: if Edith Piaf makes your skin go goosebumps like it does mine, combine Moncoeur Belleville with some micro-history. One of the most astonishing voices of our times spent her childhood just around the corner, in 72 Rue de Belleville.
This one from her last years remains my favourite:
1 Rue des Envierges (Paris 20ème). Wed-Sun nonstop 8–02 (Sunday brunch from 12 to 16). Tel: +33 (0)1 43 66 38 54 or book here. Metro: Pyrénées (line 11) / Couronnes (line 2).