Design

Abandoned train station becomes hip temple of DIY, eco-conscious living

La Recyclerie is devoted to the art of sustainable, 21st-century living.

With soaring glass windows overlooking the tracks, visitors can have brunch in the restaurant.With soaring glass windows overlooking the tracks, visitors can have brunch in the restaurant.With soaring glass windows overlooking the tracks, visitors can have brunch in the restaurant. (Photo: Alain Leroy)

In a city synonymous with luxury goods, elegant Haussmanian architecture and polished old-world charms, many visitors to Paris miss out on the more youthful, offbeat pockets of the city where creatives are setting up camp and reinventing life in the 21st century.

With a vibe and an ethos that’s more synonymous with Brooklyn, Berlin or Tel Aviv, an abandoned 1869 train station in northern Paris near the Porte de Clignancourt flea market has been reborn as a hip, sprawling cafe, restaurant, maker space and community gathering place that is a living, breathing encapsulation of the trends toward recycling, repurposing, sustainability and making things with your hands.

La Recyclerie has become an inspiration for multi-purpose locales around the world.La Recyclerie has become an inspiration for multi-purpose locales around the world. (Photo: Alain Leroy)

The lightly restored interior of what was once the Gare Ornano has repurposed tile floors, salvaged decor, plus a little urban farm with chickens, goats, beehives and an herb garden in the backyard. At La Recyclerie, you can hang out in the café or have brunch in the restaurant with its soaring glass windows overlooking the tracks and locally sourced, freshly made menu that includes vegan options (still rare in Paris) and gluten-free desserts.

You can bring anything from a broken doll to a busted chair to a repair shop and workshop, where an in-house DIY master will fix it or lend you tools and tips so you can learn to do it yourself.

A constantly changing program of workshops on everything from handmade toy-making for kids to crocheting with recycled plastic, building recycled lighting fixtures or fabricating your own cosmetics from natural ingredients are on offer, plus a steady program of swap meets, pop-up markets and other events that keep the vibrant space humming all year round.

A bevy of constantly changing workshops takes place at La Recyclerie.A bevy of constantly changing workshops takes place at La Recyclerie. (Photo: Alain Leroy)

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