The Petite Ceinture, on the peripheral Paris. Culture and nature vs. mercantilism


The real treasure of the city of love, is not among the paths Haussmann. Cultural diversity and natural value acquired this old railway line, the Petite Ceinture, contrasts with the mercantilist attitudes alleged from the Paris city hall.

“A little-known wasteland nearly 20 miles long, the Petite Ceinture (“little belt”) is an urban phenomenon: an abandoned railway built more than 150 years ago in the centre of Paris. At a time when cities everywhere are struggling for space, the future of this expanse of land, precious in its biodiversity as well as its prime location, is a contentious issue.

A treasure trove for entrepreneurs, graffiti artists and nature-lovers alike, the disused line – Paris’s last great green space – also serves as a haven for social recluses and a shelter for the homeless.”


“Floating up above and diving deep below the French capital, the Petite Ceinture still boasts 17 stations.

So, in 1998, Loubaton founded the Jardins du Ruisseau (“garden of the creek”) association with other residents of Villa des Tulipes, an idyllic cobbled lane nearby in the city’s 18 th arrondisement. Established along one of the neglected platforms of the Petite Ceinture’s former Ornano station, the pioneering project has received worldwide acclaim. “We cleaned the entire area,” Loubaton says proudly, “before planting flower and vegetable gardens, and we organised all sorts of art events.” “


“The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has a more commercial vision for the land, however. While she backs the Petite Ceinture’s gentrification in the 15tharrondissement – it is now a green space that lends itself to strolling and jogging – her ambitious plans could see the railway’s many tunnels turned into cinemas, aquariums and the like – against the wishes of Loubaton and his supporters.”