Before the Paris metro, there was “La Petite Ceinture” or little belt. Its tracks encircle what was the 19th century Paris, and have been shut down since the mid 80’s. Having been built in between the city’s forts, it has been kept isolated, allowing nature to slowly reclaim the space to make it, what is now, a beautiful green inner city railway.
This is one of those “known” secrets of Paris. Given that the rails mostly run within an open space, tourists and locals walk past it constantly, but the question always remains on how to get down. Now there are a few areas open to the public (15th, 17th and 19th Arr.), but what interests all the explorers out there is getting down to the “untouched” areas.
My favourite spot is down on the 14th Arrondisement. Between Porte d’Orleans and Alesia you’ll find several bridges that look down into the rails, but don’t worry, just a little walk next to the fence and you’ll find a little DIY door from which you’ll be able to go down.
Ideal for urban explorers and graffiti artist, you’ll find yourself in a whole different world at the heart of Paris, forgetting that right above you a hectic big city lifestyle is still going on.
I spent countless hours during my first year here looking for the entrance to this one spot, figuring out whether there was a way to go down and if I was courageous enough to do so. Until finally a few months ago I decided to go explore with one of my roommates. Turned out getting down was not that hard, leaving “La Petite Ceinture” as one of my favourite places to go, especially for photoshoots.
There is a pretty cool atmosphere being down there. You bump into all sorts of people: photographers, models, musicians, tag artists, tourists etc., that are all really friendly and at ease with each other. I guess knowing that we’re all in on this “secret” makes you part of this really interesting thing, which I had never came across in Paris. There’s a bit of a community that is built as more and more people bump into each other. And although we are all essentially there to do our own thing, chatting with others or just hanging out doesn’t feel awkward at all.
If you’re ever in Paris for any given reason or you live here, don’t hesitate on trying this little adventure out!