Now that Paris is being redeveloped, there’s even more to see and do – on both sides of the ring road. An update on the exciting new facets of the French capital.
Bold redevelopment schemes are transforming previously isolated areas of the city into vibrant new districts. Take the area around the Halle Pajol, squeezed in between two rail lines and Marx Dormoy metro station in the 18th arrondissement: following a dramatic green makeover, this former national freight depot is now the centrepiece of a big urban eco-neighbourhood harbouring new shops and cultural venues. The building boasts a gym, a multimedia library, the Yves-Robert Youth Hostel, a covered garden – and, last but not least, American-style cake and bagel emporium Bob’s Bake Shop. Eco-neighbourhoods are springing up in the suburbs too, like the Docks de Saint-Ouen regeneration scheme that’s giving a new lease of life to 100 hectares of former industrial land on the banks of the Seine.
For a bucolic interlude and a different perspective on Parisian life, take a stroll along the disused railway line known as the Petite Ceinture that runs for 36 km around the inner city. Rehabilitation of this green belt is underway and several stretches have already been transformed into urban bio-diversity trails. The track can currently be accessed from 21 Rue Rottembourg in the 12th arrondissement; 60 Rue Damesme in the 13th; opposite 99 Rue Olivier-de-Serres in the 15th; or 36 Boulevard de Beauséjour in the 16th Arrondissement. In central Paris, the riverbank has also been reclaimed for pedestrians, with the new Berges de Seine offering 2.3 km of waterfront promenade and activities between the Musée d’Orsay and the Pont d’Alma.
The city’s outer suburbs boast some heavyweight attractions, too, like the Cité du Cinéma in Saint Denis – the ‘French Hollywood’ set up by Luc Besson as a focal point for the nation’s filmmaking sector.
The art scene is blossoming in northern Paris. Austrian gallery owner Thaddaeus Ropac has turned a former boilermaking factory into his second contemporary art space in the suburb of Pantin, which The New York Times has dubbed ‘the new Brooklyn’. Creative expression is also flourishing in another northern suburb, Saint Denis, where squat collective 6B is shaking up French alternative culture – while Vitry-sur-Seine, on the southeastern outskirts of Paris, is home to the Mac/Val museum devoted to France’s art scene from the 1950s to the present day.
There are plenty of places across the city for urban sport lovers to get their kicks. Pop-up skateparks are being hosted in some locations, like Les Docks–Cité de la Mode. Basketball players head for the purpose-built courts under the Glacière, Stalingrad and Chevaleret metro stations. Thrill-seekers hankering for the excitement of a free fall need look no further than the Aerokart centre in Argenteuil. And if you want to go for a splash, you’ll find outdoor leisure complexes offering a host of watersports like sailing, windsurfing and canoeing less than an hour out of Paris.