Viaduc des Arts, Paris
There used to be an elevated train in the 12th arrondissement (district) of Paris. When the line was discontinued, they created an elevated walking path / garden. Underneath the supporting arches you will find all sorts of shops often featuring arts or artists. You can watch porcelin painting through the window, have a cello made to order, consult an architect or simply sit at a street cafe and enjoy the neighborhood.
We've walked it in Fall and in Spring and I much prefer Spring. It is a bit gray and chilly in the Fall and the flowers are not blooming. Whereas, in the Spring, the flowers are blooming, people are sitting along the walkway reading or talking and you will have many fellow walkers.
To get on it, go to Place de la Bastille, cross over to the Opera Bastille and continue along the side of the Opera in the direction of the Seine to Ave. Daumesnil. You will see an entrance to the Viaduc as a stairway beside a store front. I recommend you continue on the main street and take the next entrance since the first stairs up tend to be a place where homeless spend the night and it can be disgustingly dirty. Once past the steps, it is fine but it's just more pleasant to find the next set of steps by the next street. There are little fountains, bowers of roses, benches at intervals and viewpoints where you can look down an enjoy the views of Paris streets. If you like to take pictures, it offers great vantage points for Paris street scenes.
Walk as far as you like and then go down one of the sets of steps and return on the street enjoying all the art and craft shops under the Viaduc. There are cafes along the way where you can stop for a coffee or for lunch. It's a great day out and a different view of Paris.
The Viaduc des Arts is another perfect confluence of Carol's and my interest. Here we found a first class assemblage of galleries and ateliers all cleverly placed within an outdated mass of urban infrastructure.
Orignally called the Paris Viaduc, the structure was built in 1859 to carry a railroad line above the streets of the largely working class neighborhood below. Today, this would be built on steel stilts with a reinforced concrete deck and at the end of its useful life it be discarded probably without remorse. In 1859, however, the viaduc was beautifully crafted of stone and brick and designed to last. It's easy to appreciate that graceful arches of the Paris Viaduc could become an aesthetic asset for the neighborhood unlike, say, the Chicago "L" which does little more than visually obstruct the neighborhood and, oh yes...provide a great background for movie car chases.
Today the Paris Viaduc is reborn as the Viaduc des Arts, providing a home for many of Paris' talented artist and craftsmen, as well as paying homage to the artisans and crafts people who lived in the area during its construction. Tucked beneath the arches are creatively designed galleries and many workshops in which modern day treasures are being created on site.
The creative reuse does not, however, end at street level. Above the arches on the former rail bed, an urban park has been created providing refuge within this densely populated and heavily trafficked neighborhood. The top of the viaduc has been heavily landscaped and provides a walking and running path along its nearly three mile span. When we visited, it was perfect Parisan day...sunny and comfortably warm. As we walked along the garden-like path we encountered local workers on lunch breaks, couples on a romantic stroll and the inevitable midday joggers.
Intro Photo: The Viaduc des Arts runs parallel and along Avenue Daumesnil in the 12th Arrondissement. Beneath the arches are galleries and workshops for some 50 artist and craftsmen.
Photo 2: While the entrances to the galleries have a unified design, the interiors are as creative and unique as the wares they display. Note the foliage above which is part if the promenade.
Photo 3: Many of the spaces, such as this furniture ateliers, have showrooms in front and workshops behind. We were welcomed in to watch as the furniture was being built.
Photo 4: The top of the viaduc is called the Promenade Plantée and provides relief from the busy urban environment below.
Photo 5: In some locations the viaduc's arches have not been filled in but rather, provide passageways to the streets on the otherside or portals to contemporary apartment and retail complexes.
The Viaduc des Arts consists of a number of artists studios and shops built into the arches of a viaduct on Avenue Daumesnil. You can walk along the promenade above the arches from where there are nice views of the streets and houses below. The viaduct runs about 2.5 miles from near Place de la Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes on the eastern edge of the city.
The Viaduc des Arts has been erected in 1859 for the railway Bastille - Vincennes.
When the train was replaced by RER (line A) the line was disused but the viaduct was maintained as a "promenade plantée" (planted walkway).
At the ground level, the arcades shelter shops, especially for artists.
So, you can walk for 4 Km from Bastille to Porte de St Mandé along a green track on the viaduct and discover unusual views of Paris. The alternative is to go by the sidewalk and look at the shops.
Viaduct des Arts!
Some people say it has been there for quite a while now, but somehow I never noticed it! Starting from the Bastille area there are signs leading you to the Viaduct des Arts, and there's a marvellous garden path up on the former viaduct for a railway leading from Bastille to some Porte de V. The roses really do smell, and it's quite relaxing up there. If you're in the mood for something more commercial there are small businesses down in the viaducts arcades - out of the ordinary! Display of handycraft and artwork of the special kind.
Paris is making life much more agreable for the Parisiens. So they made a parc that is above the street. It's called the Viaduc des Arts. It's not big, but you can walk there and hear the birds and just feel a little out of town.