The Atelier des Lumières opened its doors on 13 April in the trendy 11th arrondissement of Paris in a huge renovated industrial building. The place used to be a foundry covering an area of more than 3000 m2 during almost 100 years from 1835. Due to the international crisis the Plichon Brothers foundry closed in 1929 and the site was sold to a company specialized in tool manufacturing. The company closed in 2000 and the building was unused when it was discovered by Cuturespaces in 2013. This cultural business is well-known in France for its innovative and high-quality running of remarkable natural sites or historical buildings. Among the most famous: the Musée Jacquemart André in Paris or the Carrières de Lumière in the Baux de Provence.
The Atelier des Lumières in Paris is based on the same purpose as the Carrières de Lumière in the Baux de Provence and aims to offer to the public an impressive Art and Music Immersive Experience in a unique decor. There one does not look at an art work, one does not read about a picture or an artist but one is immerged into his time, life and works. Hundreds of cameras project thousands of images on the walls as well as on the floor.
One gets acquainted with the artist and his art works through the immersion into the images and the music. One lives the works and walks in the middle of them. The show is different on each section of wall, there is one image after the other in a riot of colours and sounds. One can either walk through the various spaces of the former foundry; stand or sit on a concrete seat, a stair or directly on the floor. And the show will depend on the place from which one looks at it, there is an infinity of combinations and one can see the same programme several times without having the same experience.
For its opening the Atelier des Lumières presents three successive exhibitions: a major immersive exhibition on Gustave Klimt; a short programme on Hundertwasser, a Viennese artist contemporary of Klimt; and an even shorter modern creation. The shows starts with Gustav Klimt…
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Atelier des lumieres-Paris-Klimt et la nature-01
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The three programmes are shown continuously and one can stay as long as one wish. I looked at them twice with much pleasure… and I wish I had more time to stay and watch Hundertwasser a third time: so beautiful!
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Such an unusual exhibition place is easier to describe with pictures rather than words… and even pictures only give a slight idea of what it is in reality. If you have never been to the Carrières de Lumière in the Baux de Provence, no doubt that you will be even more dazzled and surprised than me! As the first time is really amazing. And one more piece of advice: better avoid the weekends or the school holidays as the experience is more impressive when the site is not too crowded. I hope you will enjoy your visit!
Practical information : Atelier des Lumières – 38 rue Saint Maur 75011 – Exhibition Gustav Klimt – Until 31 December 2018 – 10am-6pm (10pm on fridays and saturdays)
I intended to write a post about a beautiful and strong exhibition that I have just visited in Paris but walked through the Jardin des Plantes yesterday evening ; and I have changed my mind. The Japanese Cherry trees are presently in bloom, and so magnificent ! Once it has started the Cherry blossom only last a couple of days.
So if by chance you are in Paris this weekend or the coming week, do not miss this amazing sight and enjoy a walk in the Jardin des Plantes… as it will not last more than a few days. Moreover not only the Japanese Cherry trees are in bloom but also the Magnolias and the Butterfly bush : A true delight !
Below is the article I had written about the Jardin des Plantes three years ago, on 9 April 2015. We had a very cold and long winter in Paris this year ; but Spring has finally arrived… and the Japanese cherry trees are in bloom almost on the same day as three years ago !
There was not only snow in Paris this winter but also much rain. So much rain that it had produced a significant rise in the river Seine level: the banks had been flooded and closed. When they reopened three weeks ago I had a walk along the Seine towards east, from the Ile Saint Louis to the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand. It was on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the light was superb, the views on the Paris bridges amazing and the signs of the drop in the water level could be seen here and there.
1.From the Pont de Sully to the Pont d’Austerlitz
Our walk starts at the Institut du Monde Arabe. There the Seine divides into two branches round the Ile Saint Louis -and further west the Ile de la Cité. Along the river a pleasant garden has been laid out: the Jardin Tino Rossi.
There one strolls very close to the water in the middle of beautiful trees: pines, magnolias, Japanese cherry trees, weeping willows,… and discovers here and there the sculptures made by famous contemporary artists such as César, Brancusi or Zadkine. And on the esplanade one can see regularly groups of musicians or dancers.
A little further one walks along the Péniche du Cœur, which belongs to the famous non profit organization created by Coluche in 1985, Les Restos du Cœur. It provides accommodation and food to homeless people and has just reopened after the Seine floods.
Jardin Tino Rossi-Seine flood and Sea birds
The Peniche du Coeur has reopened when the Seine level has dropped
The Seine flood in the Jardin Tino Rossi
2.From the Pont d’Austerlitz to the Viaduc d’Austerlitz
The first bridge to span the Seine east of the Ile Saint Louis is the Pont d’Austerlitz. It gets its name from the victory won by Napoléon: the first bridge built at that location had been inaugurated in 1807, two years after the battle. It was renovated fifty years later and the present stone bridge dates from 1855. It is decorated with the names of the main officers killed during the battle.
A bit further one is surprised by a cable winch diving into the water. Here is liying at the bottom of the river La Louise-Catherine, a barge which used to be renovated by Le Corbusier in the early 20th century and turned into a refuge for homeless. For a couple of years the barge has been under repair so as to be converted into a cultural site. But last month the Louise-Catherine sunk when the Seine level has dropped. It should be afloat again when the Seine returns to its usual level.
One reaches then the Viaduc d’Austerlitz. This bridge was built by Eiffel and is used by the metro line 5 to cross the Seine between the stations Quai de la Rapée on the right bank and Gare d’Austerlitz on the left. I love its elegant silhouette!
Viaduc d’Austerlitz – Metro crossing the Seine
The Louise Marie sunk when the Seine level has dropped
View on the Viaduc d Austerlitz
3.From the Viaduc d’Austerlitz to the Pont Charles de Gaulle
Shortly after the Viaduc d’Austerlitz one notices a wooden construction on the water. This is the first and unique hotel on the Seine in Paris: The Hotel Off Paris Seine. It offers 54 rooms and 4 suites for a unique experience. One can also enjoy the bar either for an evening drink or a brunch on Sundays.
Then one walks under the Pont Charles de Gaulle which looks like a white airplane wing. This bridge was built in 1996 so as to face the development of the new areas of Bercy in 12th arrondissement and Bibliothèque in 13th arrondissement. It offers an additional road to reach the Gare de Lyon from the left bank.
4.From the Pont Charles de Gaulle to the Pont de Bercy
As one walks towards east the banks become less busy and more deserted. One is far from the bubbling city and the walk under the Cité de la Mode et du Design could even be a bit disturbing when there are no other walkers.
The Cité de la Mode et du Design was built in 2009 on the premises of former warehouses. The structure of reinforced concrete was preserved and a “plug over” made of glass and metal painted in bright green was added. The undulating shape of this plug over makes one think of a wave or a snake. I am not really fond of its design at daylight; I prefer the building at night when it is lit up and reflected in the river.
The Cité de la Mode et du Design shelters exhibitions and performances, a renowned School -the Institut Français de la Mode-, and several clubs, cafés and restaurants. My favourite is the Rooftop, so pleasant at night in summer!
Walking on the bank under the Cité de la Mode et du Design after the water level has dropped was a unique experience. The place looked like the end of the world; the ground was full of puddles, of mud and footprints. Even a shoe had been left behind by her owner…
Street art under the Cité de la Mode et du Design
The Rooftop of the Cite de la Mode et du Design
A shoe victim of the mud
One feels relieved when one leaves the basement of the Cité de la Mode and can see the sky again. The view on the Pont de Bercy is just amazing. I like this bridge with its two levels : one for the cars; and above it a viaduc for the trains of metro line 6. At the end of the bridge, on the right bank, one can see the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Accor Hotel Arena, where concerts and sports events take place.
5.From the Pont de Bercy to the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir
The banks now cross the new living areas of Eastern Paris: Bercy on the right bank and Bibliothèque on the left bank. Just before reaching the huge site of the Bibliothèque François Mitterand one can see the Piscine Joséphine Baker which is a public swimming pool where one can swim at the Seine level and with a view onto the river. Very pleasant indeed… but also quite crowded in summer.
Around the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand the banks are really pleasant and lively by fine weather, especially in summer, as there are several trendy cafés where to enjoy a drink with a view on the elegant Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir. The atmosphere reminds the one of the Thames banks at Southwark in London: the river is wide, the surrounding buildings are modern, the clientele of the cafés are mainly local people.
The Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir is one of the four pedestrian bridges crossing the Seine in Paris. It was inaugurated in 2006 and makes the link between the esplanade of the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand and the Parc de Bercy; and next to it the pedestrian area of Cour Saint Emilion. The two levels of the Passerelle are reserved to Pedestrians and cyclists. One does not use it only to cross the river but also just to enjoy walking on it, feeling its undulation and admiring the views from it: a true delight!
6.From the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir to the Pont de Tolbiac
Beyond the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir the landscapes are even wilder and less urban. One walks past the Batofar, an emblematic site for concerts and cultural events since 1999. Every Parisian knows the silhouette of this small red boat with its huge light: one cannot miss it!
Our walk ends at the Pont de Tolbiac, which is the last bridge but one spanning the Seine in Eastern Paris. Thanks to the rise in the river level the stairs leading to the upper banks are diving into the water and one has to walk back! At the foot of the bridge it looks like the seaside at ebb tide.
The whole walk takes about one hour and a half -one way. The landscapes are as beautiful as unusual for Paris and I like it because it really takes you to another world. One piece of advice: choose a sunny day with a beautiful light!
Next time I will walk toward west, where the bridges are also superb and the views on the Parisian monuments amazing… although more traditional and familiar. See you soon!