Are you looking for a unique, artistic experience close to the heart of Paris, then 59 Rivoli is the place to go. While this is not "street art", walking up and down the spiral staircase you feel like you are in a street art tunnel or street filled with tenured artists.
Getting here is extremely easy! Chances are as you are wandering around Paris you will end up on Rue de Rivoli, especially if you are shopping since this is one of the city’s busiest and largest shopping areas. It is about a 10-minute walk from Notre Dame and Centre Pompidou. If not, hop on the metro and take it to the Châtelet metro station (lines 1, 4, 7, 11, 14).
In 1999, a group of artists claimed this abandoned building. The city of Paris was going to evict the tenants of this building in February of 2000, but the artists lawyer was able to get it delayed for six months. During that time, they were able to get press and political attention. They created an alliance with a politician, Bertrand Delanoë, that promised if he became mayor of Paris that he would make it a legal spot for artist. And when he won, he kept his promise.
You can’t miss this building as you walk down Rue de Rivoli as there seems to be an ever-changing exterior that screams that there are artists at work inside. While you don’t know what the exterior will look like, you know it will be something that will grab your attention.
It is free to explore the building. As you walk up the spiral staircase, it is filled with work from the various artists that work in the space. Make sure you step into the rooms on each floor and check out the work going on there as well.
Don’t forget that these are working studios so you will have the opportunity to see the artists at work. If they are deep at work and concentrating, keep that in mind but many of them will interact with you. Also, if there is a sign asking not to take pictures within those sections please respect that request. I personally decided not to take pictures there and only took pictures in the staircase, but that was my personal choice.
When my husband and I got to the top floor that we could look out, we peeked out the window and saw nothing other than a Space Invader.
In order to get a space in this building, you must apply for a spot. Once you are accepted, and you are accepted, you are given total freedom to do with it what you want with the only exception that it has to be left open for incoming visitors to see as they come through to view it. Artists are given a 6-month option with the potential of renewal.
While it does not cost anything to enter these artist studios, there is a tip jar at the entrance that you can provide a donation. Since it was like walking through an art gallery, I left some money.
If you are interested in visiting while you are in Paris, they are open from 1-8pm every day except Monday when they are closed. Also note, they are closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Does this sounds like a place you would like to visit while you are in Paris? Please let me know below.
I hope you enjoyed the short View Thru My Lenz.
© 2020 Nina Zee
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