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Parisians owe some of the coolest new spots to party and play to… the national railway company!
Indeed, for the past few years the SNCF has been willing to give a second life to la petite ceinture, a circle of disused railway tracks and train stations around the French capital. The ‘little belt’ operated as a freight line and Paris’s first metro-like urban transportation until 1934.
Parts of the tracks had already been transformed into parks in the 1980s, long before New York’s High Line, but most of the stations remained abandoned… until a few years ago when the SNCF decided that it was time to profit from all the unused land the company owns in Paris.
La Gare, ‘the train station’ in French—is one of the many festive destinations located on former railway brownfields that have popped all over the city since then. But unlike most of its sisters, like the Station or Ground Control, this place isn’t dedicated to electronic music, but rather to Jazz!
Don’t expect too much of a La La Land experience though—head to Le Caveau de la Huchette for that—nor a classic jazz club atmosphere. The Gare team chose not to clean traces of water damage on the walls or replace the broken tiles on the floor, intentionally keeping that illegal squat feeling. If you intend to go here, be ready for mismatched chairs and tables, cheap beers, and a boss who often yells at his customers to shut up before the concert starts.
If you’re ok with this à la cool atmosphere the magic should definitely operate. The musical programming is excellent and very diverse, with free concerts every night of the week. And even if jazz isn’t your style of music, you can enjoy the 2000m2 of terraces and the garden on the rails that surround the place.
La Gare can seem a bit far from Paris’s main attractions and its immediate surroundings are not among the prettiest corners of the capital, but this could be a great occasion to discover the huge Parc de la Villette which is a just a block away or to have a walk along the Canal de l’Ourcq and taste one of the greatest pizzas in town at Simonetta.
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