Paris Rive gauche

Boasting artists‘ studios, a national library, etc. … Paris Rive Gauche is the district for art and creation

Art and creativity on Paris’s Left Bank! As the years go by, this new district of Paris is becoming a major cultural centre for the capital, and is dominated by the four majestic towers of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (library).

1 Les Docks – Cité de la mode et du design, return to the future

Cité de la Mode et du Design, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

Next to the Austerlitz train station, on the edge of the Seine, a green building catches the eye: Les Docks - Cité de la mode et du design. Inaugurated in 2012, this place is dedicated to emerging creation. It is hard to imagine that an industrial building, constructed in 1907, previously stood here! But if you look more closely, the historic building of the former Magasins Généraux d’Austerlitz is still apparent. For this ‘new’ venue, the architects Jakob + MacFarlane carried out an ingenious architectural feat (of renovation and creation), deciding to keep the original concrete structure and clothe it in apple green coloured glass. A process (called 'plug over') that the Franco-New Zealand duo had experimented with at the Georges restaurant at the Centre Pompidou. At night, the building shines brightly with the light effect created by light artist Yann Kersalé.

2 Simone de Beauvoir footbridge

Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

This bridge, the 37th in Paris, is the result of an architectural design competition whose aim was to link the new district around the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand (13th arrondissement) with Bercy (12th arrondissement).

3 Joséphine Baker swimming pool

Piscine Joséphine Baker, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand

Maybe you didn’t know, but floating baths were already fashionable in the 18th century. There were once several on the Seine. The Joséphine Baker swimming pool, moored on the Left Bank, reaffirms the genre in version that is high-tech and ecologically-friendly, with all modern comforts. Facilities include a main pool and a 50 m² paddling pool for children. There are also solariums, saunas, a hammam, a Jacuzzi, and a fitness and weights room.

4 The BnF, cultural grandeur

Bibliothèque Nationale de France © OTCP - David Lefranc

Direction the south-east of the capital to the Tolbiac district in the heart of the 13th arrondissement. This is where the majestic Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand. The library houses part of the collections of the historic Bibliothèque Nationale (national library), on rue Richelieu. Designed by the French architect Dominique Perrault, this monumental building celebrated its 20th anniversary in March. The building is aesthetically sleek and minimalist, in keeping with the ‘less is more’ trend of the famous German architect Mies van der Rohe. The building consists of four corner towers in the shape of open books: a nice reference for a library! The towers are free standing without any surrounding walls or fences and are therefore easily accessible to everyone. The emptiness of the interior space is occupied by a magnificent garden. The construction of the BnF was followed by the development of a new Parisian neighbourhood around it, on both sides of the Seine linked by the Simone de Beauvoir footbridge (Feichtinger, 2006).

5 Les Frigos – artists studios

Ateliers les Frigos, Paris © OTCP - Amélie Dupont

This former refrigerator station was abandoned and left derelict by the SNCF until it was divided up into different areas or studios in 1980. Since then, artists have appropriated these spaces and the venue has become a real centre of creativity.