Many visitors to Paris are familiar with the Coulee Verte Rene-Dumont, more commonly called the Promenade Plantee, a 4.7-kilometer long elevated park built atop a disused elevated railway line that runs roughly from the Place de la Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes on the eastern outskirts of the city.
But equally recognizable—and even sometimes confused for the park above it—is the Viaduc des Arts, a rehabilitated arched bridge in the 12th Arrondissement that hoists only a small portion of the park, but is home to many ground-level shops, galleries and restaurants.
Beginning at 1 Avenue Daumesnil, just southeast of the Opera Bastille, the Viaduc des Arts runs about a dozen blocks to 129 Avenue Daumesnil at the corner of the Rue de Rambouillet.
Originally built as the Viaduc des Bastille in the mid-1800s, the 1.5 km viaduct consists of 64 arched vaults that at one time supported a portion of the Paris-Bastille-Vincennes train line that ran above the street. But the train ceased operating in 1969, leaving the ground-level viaduct and the elevated platform abandoned.
More than a decade passed before the city opted to build a new, modern opera house near the Place de la Bastille, which necessitated a decision on what to do with the defunct rail line. While many championed simply demolishing the elevated train line to make way for new buildings along its entire route, the city’s Atelier Parisien d’Urbanisme (Urban Planning Workshop) instead opted to convert the railroad into an elevated park and to renovate the 64 vaults into spaces for small businesses.
Work on the above-ground park began in 1983.
Renovations of the viaduct were launched in 1988 under direction of the city’s Societe d’Economie Mixte d’Amenagement de l’Est des Paris (Society of Mixed Economy Planning for Eastern Paris). The first shops were opened in 1994, with the final renovated vaults reaching completion in 1997.
And the shops—while typically pricey—are unique and well worth a visit, followed by a spot of lunch at either of the two eateries located in the renovated bridge.
Today, viaduct tenants include:
- Aisthesis (cabinetry) at 25 Avenue Daumesnil;
- L’Arrosoir (restaurant) at 75 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Atelier des Arts Culinaires (cooking gadgets and appliances) at 111 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Atelier C (chocolate) at 123 Avenue Daumesnil:
- Atelier Le Tallec (handmade porcelain) at 93 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Atelier de Lutherie Dupont des Arts (musical instruments) at 3 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Ateliers du Temps Passe (paintings and restored artworks) at 3 Avenue Daumesnil; http://www.atelierdutempspasse.fr/
- Aurelie Cherell (women’s clothing) at 27 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Bicloune (bicycles) at 65 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Le Bonheur des Dames (embroidery) at 17 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Boutique Malhia Kent (fabric for haute-couture garments) at 19 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Cecile Jeanne (costume jewelry and accessories) at 49 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Creations Cherif (furniture) at 13 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Fenetres Lorenove (windows) at 11 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Guigue et Locca (furniture restoration) at 81 Avenue Daumesnil;
- HapsatouSy Showroom (cosmetics and beauty supplies, clothing) at 1 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Herve-Ebeniste (cabinets, shelves and tables) at 117 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Ithemba Design Ethik (lamps and lighting) at 67 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Maison Fey: Atelier Michel Fey (leather items) at 15 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Marischael-Orfevre (silversmithing) at 87 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Parasolerie Heurtault (umbrellas and parasols) at 85 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Philippe Ferrandis Bijoux (costume jewelry) at 109 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Rinck (interior architecture and cabinet-making) at 21 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Roger Lanne Artisan Luthier (violin and cello making and restoration) at 103 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Serie Rare (bronze door handles, knobs, sconces and backplates) at 121 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Tzuri Gueta (textiles and jewelry) at 1 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Viaduc Café at 43 Avenue Daumesnil;
- Yann Porret Matire Luthier (musical instruments) at 103 Avenue Daumesnil;
- And Zephyr (personalization and engraving) at 127 Avenue Daumesnil, among others.
Shop hours vary, but tend to be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays.