Paris brims with arty things to see and do. And no matter what kind of visitor you are, there’s something for everyone, including the eastern canal area of La Villette. A bohemian pocket along the water that’s still a little rough around the edges, it’s transforming into an arty wining and dining mecca, with colorful street art and museums.
Located in the 19th arrondissement in a neighborhood of slaughterhouses, La Villette is part of a regeneration project set in motion in the mid-seventies. The aim? To infuse this out-of-the-way district with cultural draws that would help it integrate into the city.
One of the main venues is the industrial 18,000m2 Halle de la Villette. It includes the Zénith concert hall and a convention space hosting the annual Pitchfork Music Festival and the International Tattoo Art Fair. Other venues include the large silver ball Géode 3-D IMAX cinema, the Science Museum (Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie – great to visit with the little ones), and a vast parkland where the Sonic Music Festival takes place every summer, as well as open-air film screenings. Other music venues include the Cabaret Sauvage, the Trabendo, and the iconic silver Philharmonie building by Jean Nouvel, featuring classical and contemporary music concerts, and exhibitions.
The banks of the canals of the Villette area is a top spot for picnics and summer strolls. These days, the banks, adorned with vibrant graffiti and street art frescoes, are alive with bars and restaurants leading all the way to Jaurès metro station. In the summer, the banks are turned into an urban beach where locals play pétanque (bowls) with a glass of rosé in hand. You can even have a swim in the canal on most days. Or, if you want to enjoy the water without getting wet, rent a small motor boat or a kayak to explore the area.
For food and drink, don’t miss the canal side Paname Brewing Company (PBC) for one of dozens of craft beers brewed locally, to be enjoyed on its outdoor deck. Le Pavillon des Canaux is also a popular local hangout, steps from the PBC, and is styled just like your grandma’s house. Each room has a different set-up. Enjoy a killer hot chocolate-and-cake combo in one of the bedrooms or even in the bathtub .
Continue along the canal to discover a stately restaurant event space, La Rotonde Stalingrad. A historical landmark dating back to 1788, it once served as a gateway to Paris from which officials could collect tax on goods entering the city. La Rotonde offers a rich array of cultural activities every day of the week. With numerous spaces for dining and drinking plus an art gallery and DJ late into the night, enjoy another take on the diverse city that is Paris.
La Villette is a great area to explore when the sun’s out. Enjoy the laid-back local vibe and the venues that show you a different glimpse of this thriving city. La Villette should be on your list for your next visit.
Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie – 30 Avenue Corentin Cariou, Paris 75019
Grande Halle de la Villette – 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, Paris 75019
Philharmonie de Paris – 221, avenue Jean-Jaurès, Paris 75019
Zénith – 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, Paris 75019
Trabendo – Parc de la Villette, 211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, Paris 75019
Cabaret Sauvage – 59 Boulevard Macdonald, Paris 75019
Simonetta Pizza – 32 Quai de la Marne, Paris 75019
Paname Brewing Company (PBC) – 41 bis Quai de la Loire, Paris 75019
Pavillion des Canaux – 39 Quai de la Loire, Paris 75019
La Rotonde – 6-8 Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad, Paris 75019
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