• Lucia

Three suburban escapades

Hi folks!

The blog skipped a beat in May - we're in full high touristic season and I've been spending most of my time on the field and researching (but I'll admit I also took a few days off and traveled to Barcelona - you'll hear/see more about that later!).

Today we're heading ever so slightly out of Paris, technically to three different communes (Bobigny, Pantin and... well Paris again, but outside of the Périph, the belt road enclosing the 20 districts of Paris). You can easily reach all of these destinations by subway, so it doesn't really feel like like you're going out of Paris. As the city expands and encompasses a large stretch of land all around, these different communes tend to lose their identity more and more, but we need to remember that they used to be towns and villages detached from the city nearby.

1. Pantin

No need to find an excuse, like visiting my friend Tristan who lives here, to go to Pantin: just enjoying an iced coffee out of the Dock B, sitting in the sun only a few meters from the Ourq canal, is enough to justify the metro ride. What used to be a very popular suburb north-east of Paris has been progressively "tidied up" and is attracting more and more young hipsters, still maintaining a somewhat slack groove, informal and casual, with ample spaces allowing for a spontaneous street-life that sometimes gets suffocated in Paris' tight and overcrowded streets.

Dock B opened in 2016 in what used to be an old warehouse, founded in 1929 to stock flour, grains, paper and fabric passing through the canal to be redistributed and delivered to Paris. Perfect example of the 20th century industrial architecture, this reinforced concrete building became a street art center in the 2000s before being transformed into a creative hub, organizing festivals, workshops, exhibits etc. Their food and drinks court is also worth a visit.

2. Bobigny

This commune is in the same direction as Pantin, just a little further away from the city. In this case I do have an excuse to go there, and it is called MC93. This theater and culture house opened in 1980 as a result of the 1960s policy of France's minister of Culture, André Malraux, in an effort to decentralize cultural production and consumption and to bring the artistic creation out of Paris, too. The building was entirely renovated in 2017 and is now a really welcoming multipurpose center, with a bold, rather contemporary programme, and various initiatives and workshops to involve the local population into theater and artistic creation.

Last time I went there was to see Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus interpreted by the young singers of the Opera's Academy, coming from all over the world. Very very cute :)

Residential architecture - Bobigny rapidly developed starting from the '50s

Even the less charming suburban neighborhoods benefit from beautiful dusky skies (:

Inside the MC93, at the cafe

3. Fondation Louis Vuitton

One of Paris' main art exhibits hot-spots since its inauguration in 2014, this private foundation needs no introduction. You have a couple more weeks to visit the current exhibition featuring the Courtauld collection (make sure to book your tickets online before heading there!). Go there on a sunny day to enjoy the surrounding Bois de Boulogne and get the best out of this glass building shining in light beams. Personally I had fun playing with reflecting surfaces, be it water or the curbed glass panels of the roof, reflecting people lining to get in.

4. A couple of bonus pics from the same film. We're back in Paris, in this gloomy, rainy spring. Until next time with some Catalan vibes!

A dramatic sky over Alexander III's bridge on the Seine, the Grand Palais on the right

Sun rays shining through stained glass in Saint Pierre in Montmartre

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