Tag Archives: marais

Free Artistic Collaborations in Paris: Your New Wintertime Hangout

Last winter, I spent a lot of money on overpriced cappuccinos just to have an excuse to escape the frosty grayness of Paris and keep my hands warms. Had I known about La Gaîté Lyrique or LE CENTQUATRE, I could have saved money and found cool friends a lot quicker.

La Gaîté Lyrique

Located in the 3rd arrondissement, snug between the Marais, Republique and Grand Boulevards, La Gaîté Lyrique was originally built in 1862 under Baron Haussmann. For 120 years the building served as a popular theater, and even fell under the management of Offenbach for a short time. After a bout of bankruptcy and a few decades of abandonment, the renovated building, an interesting mélange of elegant 19th-century architecture contrasted by new-age décor, reopened in 2010 as a haven for artists to relax, explore, present and reside.

La Gaîté Lyrique offers a multitude of programs, workshops, demonstrations, performances and resources. Popular subjects include technology, digital art, video games, architecture, music, dance, urban culture, street art, graffiti and skating. For independent exploration, their resource center has a small library, free-access computers, study cubicles, comfy couches, and my favorite, a video game center with five stations, each with a large screen television and a game history overview.

On the weekends concerts are held in one of their three performance halls, though these events usually aren’t free. A boutique, three cafés and a bar include other pricier options (thought if you stick with a coffee you’ll be fine). While students may comprise the majority of the population, families, adults and even senior citizens frequent the La Gaîté Lyrique as well (the program Hype(r)Olds is held weekly for women over the age of 77, for example).



In the northeast of Paris, up near La Villete, LE CENTQUATRE encourages emerging art of all forms,

providing space for creation, presentation and residence. Though it served as the city’s main funeral parlor for over 120 years, the revamped glass, brick and iron building has an open layout flooded with natural light that is anything but dark and discouraging.

Temporary exhibitions and performances are hosted on nights and weekends, but anyone can assemble a gathering during the day. Sit on one of many lounge chairs to watch break-dancers, hoolahoopers, jugglers and yogis practicing, or join in yourself. A certified teacher holds free qi qong sessions every Saturday morning.

A high-end restaurant, a cozy café, a pizza truck and an epicerie will likely satisfy any food cravings you’d have. Similarly, an art-focused bookshop, free book exchange cabin and a very chic Emmaüs will feed your appetite for hip retro clothing, knick-knacks or coffee table literature.

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Affordable Shopping in Paris, Part 2

Chine Machine – founded by a native New Yorker, this blue-washed thrift shop near Abbesses gets its inspiration from the SoHo district of NYC. Although chine means “to hunt,” unlike most second-hand stores in Paris the Chine Machine has a very organized, open layout. The decor is as funky and chic as its merchandise: pictures and posters cover the stone walls, weathered chests overflow with sale items, vintage TV sets display belts and glasses, bright-lipped mannequins flaunt perfectly mismatched styles. Prices start low but range rather high for big-name designer finds. Everyone needs to splurge once in a while, right?


Vintage Desir – probably the only vintage friperies in Paris that don’t have starting prices of 50€. Vintage Desir has two central touristy locations, one in the Marais amongst the ever-crowded falafel eateries (don’t be fooled by the bold “COIFFEUR” lettering left by the previous owner), and one off the Abbesses metro stop in Montmartre. Both have crowded, narrow aisles full of fun throw-back items. Come here to find sequin-heavy dresses, colorful blouses, stacks of hats, furs and plenty of leather purses, all within a student budget.











L’Interloque – “La Ressourcerie – L’Interloque’s main goal is to reduce waste and advocate responsible consumption by taking in unwanted or nonfunctional objects to recycle, upcycle, repair and/or reuse. They play an active role in educating the quartier about environmental protection, offer free pickups to anyone unable to transport their old items and offer employment primarily to those recovering from hard times. Any useful items they sell in one of their three boutiques on rue de Trétaigne, in a garage-sale or flea market-esque fashion, offering furniture, decorations, books, clothing, dishware, DVDs and other miscellaneous household items.








Eileen – relatively unknown (every time I’ve gone I’ve shared the shop with women older than forty), this tiny, cramped store is without a doubt the best-priced friperie in Paris. Located next to the Arenes de Lutece, its discreet façade, dirty windows and messy arrangement of clothing may intimidate most. Admittedly, shopping here is a bit of a challenge; the majority of the clothing is piled 2.5 feet or so high in the middle, with racks of dresses and jackets bordering it. I actually took off my shoes once so I could climb to dig at the back of the pile. Despite being disorganized, the clothes—jeans, dresses, coats, scarves, purses—are in great condition and often come from well-known brands. I’ve found Minelli leather derbies for 6€, Zara shirts for 2€ and Aubade lingerie for 1€.

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