Our tour of the arrondissements has made it to the one that started it all. The 19e arrondissement. My home district. Just over a year ago, I wrote an article titled, “Why I Love the 19th Arrondissement of Paris“. This prompted a follow up article explaining just what exactly I meant by the term “arrondissement”. And both pieces were so popular, they spawned this year’s entire journey around Paris, arrondissement by arrondissement.
I’m pleased to report that my feelings for the 19e have not changed since last October. I still love living in this part of Paris. I still love my proximity to the Parc de la Villette, Ourcq Canal, and Parc des Buttes Chaumont. And I love the diversity of this district in terms of residents, shops, and restaurants. The 19e arrondissement has not always been a desirable place to live, what with its history of slaughterhouses and execution sites. But today, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the city. And since I’ve already written about the main attractions of the 19e, I want to take the time this week to highlight a lesser known site in this district. A museum that I didn’t even know existed until just a couple of months ago.
Aux Arts et Sciences Réunis – The Hidden Museum of the 19e
This restaurant is a popular dining spot in the 19e, located just down the street from the Parc de la Villette. That being said, I couldn’t figure out why people were always taking photos of its exterior, or why tour groups were always pausing to point it out. But then I received a call from a friend who had just finished having lunch at this restaurant. Her group was about to get a guided tour of the museum in the back, and since she knew I lived in the area, she wanted to know if I wanted to join them. Me? Explore a previously unknown museum in my own neighbourhood? I didn’t even hesitate to say yes.
I quickly learned that this restaurant is associated with the Société de Compagnons Charpentiers du Tour de France. And no, this society has nothing to do with the annual cycling race. Instead, it is a mentorship and training program for carpenters and artisans that dates back to medieval times. Apprentices accepted into this program study in community houses throughout the country, changing locations every year, and learning from a wide range of masters of the craft. Members of this society have built and maintained buildings and monuments throughout France for centuries. Fun fact. Many of them are currently working on rebuilding Notre Dame Cathedral.
The Aux Arts et Sciences Réunis restaurant serves as a canteen for the compagnons of this particular community house, and there is a workspace in the back for their lessons. There is also a large room to exhibit the society’s masterpieces of the 19th century, and this was the room I was invited to view with my friend’s tour group. The pieces on display were extraordinarily beautiful, and gave me a whole new appreciation for the craft of carpentry. I was in awe that something so incredible existed in my own backyard and I never knew about it.
My Home in Paris
The 19e has been my home for over seven years, and I love how I continue to make wonderful new discoveries all the time. Like the incredible Cent Quatre arts centre on the north side of the canal. Or the Swiss chalet house in the middle of Paris that I randomly walked by a couple of weeks ago. Or Le Paon Qui Boit, an amazing shop specializing in every kind of non-alcoholic drink you can imagine. There is so much to discover in this arrondissement, and even after all this time, I feel like I’m just getting started. Hopefully, I have many more years left in the 19e to explore and discover.
Want to read more about the arrondissements of Paris? Click HERE.
Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.