Many visitors to the City of Love make time to see such famed sites as Cimetere du Pere Lachaise, Le Louvre and Arc de Triomphe, just to name a few. But rarely, if ever, do everyday tourists visit those gems hidden in the hearts of Parisian arrondissements.
One such place is La Centquatre, in the 19th arrondissement. This spacious, nearly 242,000 sq ft, public cultural center houses visual artisans, dancers, actors and performance artists for showings, practice or just to hang out.
The space is equipped with a bookstore, galleries, performance studios and practice areas, even a quaint cafe/deli is onsite. One other great location convenience is that it offers close proximity to the Canal de La Villette section of River Seine.
Stepping through the courtyard of this historic monument, you’re submerged in a wave of sights and sounds. Sounds like soul thumping, house music blaring from one set of doors; Vivaldi oozing from behind another. The sights are of small clusters of various types of people littered about the giant space.
For your best La Centquatre experience, you should check out their offerings ahead of time. You’ll search their programming (translator will help) and happen upon many expositions of notable artists. From artists of the recent past, like Keith Haring, to one of their 200 artists in residence — they display fascinating exhibitions with the help of the French government and notable art houses, like Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
On occasion, you can catch the Hip Hop Dance Expo, sponsored by area resident Sidy Seye. In this expo, you can watch some of the best break dancers display their craft to onlookers. For over ten years, Seye has taught break dancing, DJing and English to young Parisians. In collaboration with local area businesses, Sidy is able to offer after-school and weekend lessons to area youth for little to no money.
This is just one of the many gems in and around Parisian arrondissements. Be sure to make this community cultural center a mandatory stop on your next trip to Paris.