In 1994, a defunct suburban railway stretching from Bastille to Bercy was radically converted into a shopping, arts and crafts center known as the Viaduc des Arts. The former viaduct, built in a distinctive rose-colored brick, now houses under its 64 graceful vaulted arches several artisanal shops and workshops (from porcelain painters to woodworkers), art galleries, boutiques, antique shops, cafes and restaurants. A lush above-ground promenade known to locals as the Promenade Plantée or Coulée Verte (literally, "green stream") was built atop the defunct railway. Taking a stroll at the Viaduc des Arts and Promenade Plantée will give you a guaranteed breather from the urban grind, and allow you to experience a lesser-known part of the city. For those interested in artisan craftwork, it's also a way to get acquainted with some of the city's finest artisans, many of whom are practicing arts that are fast-disappearing (paper restoration, handmade flute-making, etc.)
Viaduc des Arts/Promenade Plantée Location, Access and HoursAddress: Access the Viaduc des Arts and Promenade from the beginning of Avenue Daumesnil (closest metro is Bastille, 12th arrondissement
You can access the Promenade from staircases at various points along Avenue Daumnesil.
Hours: The Promenade Plantée is open from sunrise to sundown (times very according to the time of year). Shops and boutiques on the Viaduc des Arts have varying hours-- check ahead below.
Visit the official website (in English)-- complete list of artisans and their boutiques/workshops
The Promenade PlantéeOnce you've explored the boutiques, workshops and cafes of the Viaduc des Arts, take one of the staircases up to the Promenade. Stretching from the Bastille to the Jardin de Reuilly, this one-kilometer stroll is always a pleasant way to spend the morning or afternoon. Dozens of varieties of trees, plants and shrubs are planted along the "green stream", including cherry, linden, hazelnut, and bamboo. The stroll also affords views of interesting Parisian buildings, including some architectural details you can't see from ground-level (friezes, statuary, stained glass etc.)
Read more about the Promenade Plantee here for more details on what to expect on your walk.