I’ve lived almost all my life in Paris and yet I’m still regularly discovering hidden gems that amaze me by their creativity and innovation.
Les Grands Voisins (in english, ‘The Big Neighbors”) is one of them. Nestled in the 14th arrondissement in the south of Paris, this 4 hectares multi disciplinary space lies on the grounds of a former hospital and brings together small charities, entrepreneurs, artists and even refugees and individuals in need of a home to innovate together while being one of the coolest place in Paris to unwind with a beer after a hard day at work.
Come take a look!
The place currently hosts around 2000 people that either live and work on site and recently opened a camping. Imagined by Yes We Camp and composed of regular tents, wooden huts, outdoor showers, it even has a outdoor but protected from the rain space with several hamacs to chill in. Most materials are eco-friendly or recycled (from the waste produced on site) and you can evenpedal to produce the electricity that makes the washing machine work! Saving the planet one laundry at a time at les Grands Voisins ;).
The outdoors are reinvested by urban organic agriculture, a hen house, handmade furniture, collective sports installations and even a Russian steam bath to please all the visitors.
But the true heart of les Grands Voisins is La Lingerie, a coffee house/cantine located in the middle of the site where you can just drink a coffee and pay for a second one that will be served to someone in need for free, listen to a concert, watch a documentary or just talk to your neighbor as most of the tables are long and you usually end up sitting with 4 strangers that eventually become friends. Should you be hungry, there are different locations that offer dining options for as cheap as… 5 euros! For that price, you get a big plate of a fairly simple meal, usually rice with veggies and sometimes chickens BUT they almost always propose a vegan option which makes my plant eating belly incredibly happy!
While you’re there, don’t hesitate to check out the many purpose oriented companies and charities that are based there, they are all doing something for the community or the environment. Some of them include a shared closet website that enables you to rent clothes on a weekly basis which reduces excessive clothing consumption while remaining stylish, others collect and sell back used cardboards for people who are moving out using a bike and it goes on. Need inspiration, do come!
Finally, you might come across one of the many volunteers busy cooking, fixing, gardening on the spot. Don’t hesitate to talk to them, they’re usually super opened to share about their little paradise.
If you’re in Paris, hurry to visit,the site is supposed to close in December as the city takes over to build 600 new appartments within an "eco neighborhood". Let's hope all the learning from the Grands Voisins experience will be used to set up a similar place somewhere else!
Les grands voisins:
Ancien hôpital Saint-Vincent-de-Paul
82, Avenue Denfert-Rochereau
75 014 Paris