How to describe the Grands Voisins, a place that changes every time I visit it? Although it is hard to list everything that is going on there, I will give it a try.
Les Grands Voisins is a social project, located in an abandoned hospital. It brings together social housing, NGOs, artists and campers, because amongst the many things it does, it also houses the only Parisian intra-muros campsite.
When you enter the area it feels like you’ve left Paris behind and have entered Berlin. Its spacious and somewhat neglected buildings are decorated with self-made art. Most of the buildings are reserved for housing women, young adults and immigrant workers – adding up to 600 persons in total. Just next to that you will find artists doing their job and various people having outdoor meetings – a rather unique mix.
Do not hesitate to talk with the people here: all the people I talked to were very happy to tell me about their work and seemed to be rather proud about their part in this unique project.
Les Grands Voisins has a bar that is open from Wednesday till Sunday, which is becoming increasingly popular, especially now in summer. It also has a really nice second hand shop, and a plant shop that sells original plants, but only during the weekend. During August there will be a festival about Syrian art (9-13 August) and considering its programme it may be one of the liveliest places in Paris during this otherwise extremely calm month.