Thursday 12 January 2012

Paris Face Cachée - celebrating the unseen side of the city

A new initiative in Paris aims to show both visitors and locals alike a hidden side of one of the most well-known cities in the world. 

Paris Face Cachée, a weekend long event being held on February 4th and 5th, is the result of a series of discussions between the city of Paris and an agency called À Suivre Productions. According to Sabrina Slimani, one of the event organisers, the initiative was almost a natural evolution from previous projects that they’d run together. “We have organised one-off events in so many fascinating places that it seemed a shame not to group them together somehow, and introduce them to the general public” she explained.

Over 50 activities (called experiences by the organisers) are planned in a wide range of unusual locations, nearly half of which half will be free. Partly in order to create a buzz, and partly to keep the curious away from certain sensitive sites before the event, all of the places remain a secret until you purchase (or reserve) a ticket.

According to Sabrina Slimani, the themes of the event almost suggested themselves. “After listing all the possible venues, we were quickly able to divide them into three themes; pénétrer l’interdit (enter the forbidden), expérimenter l’inedit (try something new), and rencontrer l’inconnu (encounter the unknown). The principal idea was to take people to places they would never be able to visit, or show them the hidden sides of the more well-known locations.”

So what will people be able to do during this weekend? Well, if they are interested in the forbidden, they can visit the printing plant of a newspaper, the control centre for the city’s traffic lights, or enter a bunker under one of the principal railway stations in the capital. For those looking for new experiences, there are tours of cemeteries and artists’ studios, and people seeking the unknown can meet up under a motorway flyover or in secret parts of the Metro system.

Is Paris Face Cachée a one-off, or the start of a new annual event? For Sabrina Slimani, the desire is there to make it a regular rendez-vous, and the city certainly does not lack potential sites. “This year there were many places where, for one reason or another, we couldn’t organise activities, so we have enough venues already for at least another year” she said.

Of course, the lifespan of the event will also depend on how successful it is this year, but already places are disappearing quickly. If you don’t want to take the risk of missing out, hurry up and book your places soon!

Reservations for all events can be made on the official website:
Photos: Top, ©Pierre Meitivier, middle, ©Eau de Paris, bottom, ©Emilie Vialet


PeterParis said...

Very interesting, but all the visits that I found to be interesting are already “complets”. Obviously a successful initiative! I will keep looking for future events!

mitch said...

This program sounds a lot like Open House New York, which opens up dozens of forbidden, forgotten or otherwise interesting spaces to the public for a weekend each year. Things like 160 year old subway tunnels. It's a very popular program.

Adam said...

Peter: Yes, apparently there were 10,000 places available for 50 events, but in a city with a population of over 2 million (without counting the suburbs), clearly this was never going to be enough.

I guess they are stuck between trying to make it a popular event open to everybody, and something a little offbeat and mysterious at the same time. Perhaps next year they should just open places up to visitors rather than create 'experiences' with few places available, but if they did that, how would this event differ from the Journées du Patrimoine?

Kiki said...

Adam; it would be on different dates which would already be extremely helpful!
Made the same experience as Peter too but was too fed-up to write in to you... :)

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