La Recyclerie, Paris
Paris used to have a ‘petite ceinture’ rail service (little belt in English) that served the different main entrances to the city from 1852 to 1934. Although most of the network is abandoned for a long time, since the 90’s, some of the ‘petite ceinture’ train stations are converted into social spaces, such as the concert venue ‘La Flèche d’Or’ in the 20e arrondissement. And for a couple of years now, the Ornano station at Porte de Clignancourt in the North of Paris, has transformed its building overlooking the rails into a social space: restaurant, café, farm, vegetable garden and DIY workshop.
The place is really crowded at lunch time on a Sunday, a lot of families and groups of friend are gathered around formica tables and picnic benches. You first buy a ticket for an army metal tray at the central island bar and then queue at the different kitchen passes to compose your organic meal. Quinoa risotto, chicken curry, pumpkin squash, bread, omelette, tea or coffee, the drinks are on a refill basis and some additional cocktails and glasses of wine are proposed to the customers. Back to your table, you try to squeeze your oversized army tray with your six friends’ ones on a kitchen table, and quickly, you start appreciating the casual and airy atmosphere. The really high attic like ceiling (looks brand new) creates a lively but not too noisy mood. The main dining area has a strip down look, reclaimed doors and windows are used for walls and massive planters dress up the columns and architectural structure, some scaffolding elements finish the DIY look.
A spinning stairs leads to a mezzanine where a more relaxed and lounge furniture selection is offer to the customers. From the mezzanine, the view to the rails is even more impressive. It might be really pleasant, in summer time, to spend the afternoon on the outdoor terrace along the railway.
La Recyclerie is a multipurpose space, the restaurant is the main activity, but the DIY workshop at the entrance is always packed with locals fixing a bike, organising creative workshop for kids or helping you with a stitching detail on your handmade cloth. The DIY, reclaimed and collage look & feel matches perfectly the will to transform this abandoned building to a lively space again.