A villa in Paris (not in the rest of the country, mind you) is not “a large and luxurious country house in its own grounds”. It’s something I learnt when I settled down here.
Instead, it’s a small, and sometimes not so small, street or private cul-de-sac, with dwellings on the sides.
Usually, one finds so-called “villas” in very exclusive areas of the city. They are usually private roads with gates and locks. Here we found an open one in a more modest district, the 13th, which used to be very poor at the end of the 19th century. Opposite that street, there used to be a workhouse for the poor. It ended up being so derelict it had to be taken down for the area was very dingy. Now it looks better, even though it’s still not that rich.
The “villa” is quite nice, however, and not too showy. It’s named after Auguste Blanqui, a diehard radical socialist leader who spent most of his life in prison, and the rest in exile. In between, he was advocating revolution. It’s a weird thing to baptise such a street with a name of an anarchist (one of his books is entitled, “no god no masters”) when any of these houses is worth €2m each for a 200 sq m (2150 sq ft) building. Even though that’s relatively cheap by local standards, and dirt cheap by international standards, an upper-middle manager, whom Blanqui wouldn’t approve of, would still need to work 20 years without spending a single penny to be able to buy one, and a whole life if she saved 30% of her income.