Viaduc des Arts

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Paris is one of those cities where there is so much going on and so much to see in all the neighborhoods that, naturally, there are some areas that get overlooked. For me, that area is the Viaduc des Arts in the 12th arrondissement.

I had been to the Bercy shopping area, to Bastille, to the Bois de Vincennes, and though I had driven by it a thousand times, I had never actually stopped and walked the Viaduc des Arts, a vast stretch of artists and artisans and cafes lining one side of Avenue Daumesnil.

The Viaduc was originally an infrastructure built in 1959 to hold a train line from Bastille to Vincennes, but was left abandoned after the RER A line was built. Abandoned for 10 years, the Atelier Parisien d’Urbanisme (APUR) was commissioned to rehabilitate the building, opening the Viaduc des Arts and Promenade Plantée in 1994.

The Viaduc now holds over 50 ateliers and artists shops, from leather work to wood to women’s fashion, even a specialty umbrella shop! The prices are on the higher end of ateliers in Paris, but hold quality work, often built or worked-on right on site.

While the underneath of the train line was turned into the artist shops, the top of the Viaduc was being transformed into the world’s only elevated park, the Promenade Plantée. It was lined with trees and greenery and walkways were built, an idea which eventually made its way over to New York, inspiring their now famous High Line.

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