La Villette showcases French expertise in urban redevelopment at its best. Its exceptional architectural heritage extends from the 19th century Grande Halle and Bernard Tschumi’s Folies to the Géode and the new Philharmonie de Paris by Jean Nouvel which has brought the Park firmly into the 21st century.
For over 30 years, La Villette has broken the mould of traditional parks and forged the way for a new concept of a landscaped urban space – a place in which nature and culture come together in an engaging dialogue between art and society.*
With its blend of culture and entertainment, La Villette stretches over 55 hectares from the Porte de la Villette to the Porte de Pantin, making it the biggest park in Europe and the capital’s premier urban cultural park. Once home to several abattoirs, Bernard Tschumi’s architectural project has transformed the park since 1979 into a coherent space which brings together a variety of cultural institutions.
Born of the merger between the La Villete mixed economy group (SEMVI) and the Grande Halle (AGH) association, and part of the Parc de la Villette public body (EPPV), this public body is now under the direction of the Ministry of Culture and Communication.
The Park and Grande Halle de la Villette public body (EPPGHV) oversees the management and maintenance of the built and landscaped areas of the park, as well as the cultural programme of the Grande Halle, the Chapiteaux area, the Paul Delouvrier pavilion, the WIP Villette, the Halle aux Cuirs, the Folies and the open-air areas – including the 12 themed gardens and meadows.
Didier Fusillier was appointed president of Park and Grande Halle de la Villette public body by decree on 17 June 2015.
La Villette has adopted an ambitious and popular cultural policy, with over 2,800 events per year:
As part of its campaign to promote creativity, the programme at La Villette encourages encounters between a variety of artistic endeavours. This includes all forms of live events: music, theatre, circus, dance and cinema, building on the park’s renowned expertise in urban culture and popular arts.
One of the core missions of La Villette is to promote new forms of artistic expression (hip hop, slam, electro, arts digital), with a local, national and international impact. These urban cultures rub shoulders with popular arts which are enjoying a strong revival, such as circus, theatre, or street arts, and all contribute to the programme in various contemporary forms. The park also lends its full support to emerging companies through a series of residential options, each characterised by demanding programmes.
The purpose of cultural mediation is to narrow the gap between art and the people. To this end, La Villette implements a number of initiatives designed to promote the diversity of audiences around two strategic goals: cultural programmes and the park’s environment. Artistic education projects are organised throughout the school year with groups from schools or the local community. These programmes adopt inclusive and participative approaches, based on original pedagogical themes that are always in tune with the overall programme of the park. These involve:
The Villette Workshops keep the dialogue between nature and culture alive through a rich array of workshops and visits, which aim to provide both fun and education.
Since 2011, the partnership with the Ile-de-France (Paris) region has led to the selection and support of 1,200 new upper secondary school students on an individual mediation programme. The partnership with the RATP foundation forges a cultural link with structures in support of disability and community work in the surrounding areas.
Inspired by the Folies in the Parc de La Villette designed by architect Bernard Tschumi, the Micro-Folie project is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Communication and coordinated by La Villette, with the participation of the Château de Versailles, the Centre Pompidou, the Louvre, the Musée Picasso, the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, the RMN – Grand Palais, the Philharmonie de Paris, and Universcience.
Micro-Folie: one project, three entities
1) Musée Numérique – espace scénique
With its collection of masterpieces from nine national institutions and museums in digital form, this virtual art gallery is a unique cultural offering. Each visit is supported by mediation activities. Using the in-house technical sound and light equipment, the space can easily be transformed into a stage area where artists, associations and amateurs can rehearse and perform.
2) Café – Little Folie
As a friendly forum for encounters and dialogue, Little Folie organises popular dances and cinema screenings in partnership with local cultural structures and associations. A number of activities for children and families are also organised: educational workshops, gaming tables, lecture room, space for birthday parties, etc.
3) Atelier - FabLab
With its 3D printers, computers and practical and computer equipment, this area is designed for designers, artists, students, DIY enthusiasts and all those who want to work on their creative projects. Newcomers and the merely curious are welcome to join in with the DIY spirit.
La Villette is also a place full of life and home to several activities and services for locals, families, tourists and sports enthusiasts.
Developing the accessibility of the cultural offering and spaces of the park is a key mission for La Villette. Important redevelopments and access measures have been introduced, as well as a disability officer, in order to improve the wellbeing of all our visitors.
The redevelopment of the information and ticketing service, situated at the exit of the Porte de Pantin metro, has been redesigned to extend the best possible welcome to people with reduced mobility, with a tactile screen and 3D model, an ergonomic welcome terminal, an information post and specially adapted flooring.
On site, braille and large-print documents on the programme and layout of the park are available for visually impaired visitors. For hearing-impaired visitors, one of our welcome staff has received special training in (French) sign language.
The educational gardens, designed as a pedagogical, cultural and community space, are fully accessible: access ramps, handrails and suitable flooring. The La Folie information and ticket kiosk and the educational gardens have received the French Tourisme et Handicap label, recognising their provision of support for hearing, mental, motor and visual impairments.
More than just an urban park, La Villette is a cultural space based on understanding and working the land. In this way, La Villette broadens our idea of culture and offers education in landscapes.
Perennials and local plants are given pride of place in the park, and pesticides have been jettisoned in favour of organic approaches.
Several steps have been taken to encourage soft modes of transport and enable a harmonious coexistence between visitors, flora and fauna. In order to accommodate a variety of species, 37 bird nest boxes, 5 bat nest boxes and 5 insect hotels are located within the park and 5,000 m² of flowering meadows have been planted.
Located on the site of the old sheep market, this 3,000 m² ecological island is home to a large variety of rare ecosystems in an urban environment: an apiary, an orchard, vegetable plots, a grove, wasteland, ponds, hedges and dry stone walls. This wild oasis is designed to raise awareness amongst all visitors of ecological and social issues, using educational workshops, visits and conferences. In 2010, the educational gardens were awarded the environment-friendly ‘Espaces verts écologiques’ EVE®’ label, certified by Ecocert.
In a context of economic, social, environmental and cultural crisis, the longstanding border between environment and culture is becoming more porous. La Villette is also committed to this objective as part of its artistic and cultural programme and its core goals.