Paris’s 13th arrondissement houses one of the largest Chinatowns in Europe. It occupies the triangle formed by the Avenue de Choisy, Avenue d’Ivry and the Boulevard Massena, as well as the surrounding streets and Les Olympiades.
The roots of Paris’s most significant Chinatown lie in the 1970s and 1980s, when ethnic Chinese refugees from the former French colony of French Indochina (modern-day Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) settled there, fleeing war and political oppression. They took advantage of one of the revitalisation programmes that were undertaken in the second half of the 20th century and aimed to improve living conditions in the 13th arrondissement. Nowadays, 13th’s Chinatown is a bustling, colourful district where the Asian presence is particularly noticeable: restaurants, curio shops, hairdressers and grocery stores all bear signs with various Asian alphabets. Interestingly though, the Chinatown is not a major residential district for people of Asian descent, rather it is a meeting place and a cultural centre.