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Staying in Paris? A visit to the Arts Viaduct is a must!

Staying in Paris? A visit to the Arts Viaduct is a must!

Yes, Paris is the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees and the Folies Bergeres. Mais oui, Paris is Notre Dame, the Louvre and rides on the Seine. But for those visitors who like to step off the beaten track, there are parts of Paris that are seldom frequented by tourists. The one we’d like to tell you about right now is a particular favourite of ours and one of the city’s most unusual locations. It can be found in the 12th arrondissement, on the Avenue Daumesnil, just a stone’s throw from the Place de la Bastille, and is called the Viaduc des Arts. Close to this place of artistic effervescence nestles the Hotel Marais-Bastille, the ideal starting and finishing point for all your unusual visits.  Arts Viaduct Paris

The history of the Viaduc des Arts

As the name suggests, the Viaduc des Arts is actually a converted viaduct that once carried the trains of the Paris-Bastille to Vincennes railway line. When the lined closed in 1969 this 1.5 kilometre long bridge consisting of 64 vaults was simply abandoned; a sad fate indeed for such a mighty engineering project. However, in 1988, the architect Patrick Berger put forward a plan to convert the arches of the viaduct into a strip of art galleries. This turned out to be just what the area needed and the final conversions were finished in the late 90s. Today the Viaduc des Arts houses the workshops of artists and artisans, modern and contemporary art galleries and small restaurants.

Crafts and galleries: art and the Viaduc

The Viaduc des Arts can be accessed from the Avenue Daumesnil. Stroll along this superb urban development and see the artistic soul of Paris laid bare before you. The diversity is exhilarating, with luxury umbrella manufacturers rubbing elbows with restaurateurs and manuscript restorers calling out greetings to wood turners. For the Viaduc des Arts is not just a parade of shops where you simply view and purchase beautiful and unique items, it is also a cluster of workshops where the creators of dreams work their magic before the very eyes of passers-by. It’s difficult to walk by without gazing into every window to see what’s going on!

The tree-lined promenade from Vincennes to Bastille, or, how to walk with nature in Paris

But that’s not all; the viaduct has other secrets to reveal. Upon the arches, following the path of the old railway line, you can find a linear park (Coulée René-Dumont) that offers one of the most beautiful walks and best kept secrets in Paris. Follow this beautifully planted pathway where nature rules and you’ll be delighted and surprised. It’s not unusual to find yourself face to face with a storyteller recounting tales of old Paris at the turn of a lavender parterre, or see friends passing the time of day on a bench overgrown with ivy and carnations, or be suddenly confronted by a wonderful view of the city as the path opens out after traversing a high-walled stretch. Good exercise and a delight for the eyes, it’s an unusual tour of Paris you should not miss.


Picture copyright holder: Mbzt

Hotel Marais Bastille, a 3 star Design hotel in the heart of Paris.

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