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Open day at the “Frigos”

May 25, 2011
by
Les Frigos

Every year in May, visitors are invited during two days to penetrate one of the most astonishing, if not gloomy, buildings of Paris: les Frigos. Believe it or not, people flock to take this unique chance. The reason for this success is that the “Frigos” used to be an industrial wasteland bound to be demolished. The place wasn’t expected to make it to the 3rd millennium, but it was saved from destruction thanks to the transformation of the building into an artistic center.

Originally, the place, built in 1920, was a cold storage room owned by a railway company. It was supposed to keep products fresh for the Halles market on the right bank. The architecture was meant to enable trains to enter the huge concrete building and unload raw materials and fresh products. In the 1970s, the “Frigos”, then pretty run-down, were left abandoned. Squatters, among whom artists, started inhabiting the building.  In the 1980s, the place was officially declared an artistic center and artists could rent a loft for a very reasonable price. Today, there are more than 90 lofts, housing painters, sculptors or musicians. Reportedly, some lofts are more than 200 square meters and have been turned into cozy apartments. The place clearly displays the dual personality of the site: rails and gutters can still be seen but the façade is now adorned with graffiti.

If you decide to visit the place this week-end (May 28th and 29th), the area is worth a visit too. The Frigos look like an alien in a recently renovated district and are located a few blocks away from some architectural landmarks:

– the National Library (Bibliothèque François Mitterand)

– the Moulins de Paris, now housing part of the University of Paris

– the Ecole Nationale d’Architecture

– the Docks en Seine

– new buildings designed by French architect Christian de Portzamparc.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2011 7:54 pm

    This is really cool to know about! I have a guest in town this weekend. Maybe I can convince her to go with me and check les Frigos out.

    I’m really enjoying the posts here. Thank you for the unique views of Paris you have been sharing. The photos in this post are particularly cool! I’ve seen most of the things pictured here before, but not from the particular perspective they are shown here. Nice!

  2. Brigitte permalink
    May 29, 2011 12:24 am

    Great info, thanks for sharing. I did ot know that event.

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