First, fighting off jetlag, I visited the rooftop garden at AgroParisTech, shared by INRA researchers and an UA business called Topager. A true Parisian verlan-inspired neologism, the name Topager is a wonderful rearrangement of the word potager or kitchen garden... in this case, one on top of a building! In addition to research on biodiversity, stormwater infiltration, and a small space for students to grow some food for themselves, the rooftop has a killer view of Haussman's rooftops and the taller 20th century buildings that punctuate Paris's otherwise low-rise skyline.
A couple of days later we headed to the 18th arrondissement, up the international Boulevard Barbès, stopping by a community garden managed by the city's La Main Verte program. As expected, the garden was in pleine hibernation -- overgrown, with only a sole lonely tomato keeping vigil over a winter-hardened cardoon. From there we moved on to the Impasse de la Chapelle. Hidden away at the end of the alley is Ecobox, a design-inspired community garden tucked between an apartment block and the sea of rail lines snaking north from the Gare du Nord. Aside from the amazing view southwestwards to Sacre Coeur and Montmatre, the site is home to an AMAP (like a CSA) and its associated market stands, several garden plots built on repurposed shipping palettes, some sweet murals, an amazing array of planter boxes, and enough recycled art to make any Portlander blush. Not to mention a pair of hens cuddled up in their recycled coop.
Finally, we headed to the Jardins du Ruisseau, a garden constructed on the right of way alongside an abandoned commuter rail line near the Porte de Clignancourt. Two goats and several chickens scaled the steep walls of the garden, and several beehives were humming away in the cold. A funky little bar called La Recyclerie straddles the tracks, a repurposed railway depot that would put any Portland hipster bar to shame... minus the beer. France is known for its wine, after all!
Pictures of all these places below. Again, keep in mind it was December, so not too much to look at in the way of vegetables... but all wonderful sites of urban production. And speaking of production (of) space, I was able to pick up some reading in the original French while there... Lefebvre's Le droit à la ville and Guattari's Lignes de fuite... finding the time to read them is another matter!