59 Rivoli - a Unique Former Squat

By NinaZee | Feb 17, 2020
Europe > France > Île-de-France > Paris

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.

59 Rivoli in Paris

59 Rivoli in Paris

Getting to 59 Rivoli

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).

The History of 59 Rivoli

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.

Inside 59 Rivoli

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.

The staircase inside 59 Rivoli

The staircase inside 59 Rivoli

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.

More art on the staircase inside 59 Rivoli.

More art on the staircase inside 59 Rivoli.

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.

The staircase inside 59 Rivoli.

The staircase inside 59 Rivoli.

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.

 A Space Invader as seen from 59 Rivoli.

A Space Invader as seen from 59 Rivoli.

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.

Nina Zee

⁠⁠© 2020 Nina Zee ⁠⁠

Art Gallery Things to do Art Squat Sightseeing

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Written by NinaZee
Hi, I am Nina!! I love to travel and love to share my knowledge with others to help them make their travels seamless. I have been traveling to Europe since 1990. I have completed many of my bucket list items like staying in the Ice Hotel, dog sledding, hot air ballooning, and a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon just to name a few. I went to art school and have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, so I love pulling in my love for the arts, especially street art, as I make my way across the world. If you are interested in seeing more of my blogs, check out my page at www.viewthrumylenz.com/

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