Nothing makes me more nervous than the traditional Sunday routine : staying late in bed, going out for a gigantic brunch and ending the day by watching a movie. So when restaurants and cafés of the center of Paris are overcrowded with noisy families I love to go for long strolls on the outskirts of town, exploring the changing suburbs. I get on the tube and get off a the end of the line. There, I love to get lost and walk for hours without any purpose. One of my favorite walks is along the Canal de l’Ourcq in Pantin. The wind blowing on the banks of the canal and the seagull’s cry makes you feel as if you were walking along a old industrial port by the sea and somehow reminds me of Le Havre as shot by Aki Kaurismäki in his eponymous movie Le Havre. A grey winter sky, a dog barking in the distance, a special kind of poetry. Buildings under construction. Renovation works. Old red brick buildings being brought back to life. You can see something is changing there. Gentrification is happening there, as in almost all the cities directly bordering Paris. Bringing back to life abandoned neighborhoods that are soon to be included in a larger Paris. As thrilling as this suburban integration is, one can feel a little nostalgic of the worlds which are about to disappear here, integrated by force into a consumer’s society ideal.
An exemplary case of gentrification, les Magasins Généraux, an 1930’s building left derelict for many years was bought by BETC, one of the biggest creative agencies, and is about to host not only the headquarters of the agency but also a few “bobos” restaurants and bars. This building has been for many years a real paradise for graffiti artists, and my friends and I have spent long days enjoying the view and the sun on the huge rooftop. Pantin is also becoming a high class cultural hotspot, with the opening in 2012 of Galerie Thaddeus Ropac spread over an area of 5000m2 and several buildings allowing the display of large-scale works. The city hosts since 2004 the great program of the CND, a national center dedicated to contemporary dance. I know I’ll soon have to walk a little bit further on Sundays.
Galerie Thaddeus Ropac – 69 avenue du Général Leclerc 93500 Pantin.
Le CND Pantin- 1 rue Victor-Hugo 93507 Pantin.
La Philharmonie de Paris – 221 Avenue Jean Jaurès.