On 12th November, 6,000 Airbnb community members will come together at Parc de la Villette to join Airbnb Open.
Designed by French architect, Bernard Tschumi, the Parc de la Villette district is an icon of industrial Paris, and yet the 19th arrondissement that plays home to the city’s largest park – and soon, the largest event in Airbnb’s history – is an embodiment of contemporary Paris. Creative, cultural, vibrant.
At the heart of Parc de la Villette, on the banks of the canal, you can find all sorts of people. There are people out running, couples out for a stroll, families on days out or people sat pondering. In the summer, people go there to lay down their towels and enjoy picnics with friends, attend open-air cinema screenings or simply just relax and soak up some sun.
For the rest of the year, the park is an explosion of culture and the arts!
The Zenith, the Great Hall and the Paris Philharmonic are some of the city’s most famous auditoriums and play host to musical and theatrical performances as well as a variety of artistic exhibitions and conferences. It’s these, along with the Museum of Science and Industry, that help entice thousands of Parisians to visit Parc de la Villette all year round.
Yet the park as it is today, has a very different purpose than what was originally intended. When it was opened in 1867, the site was originally used as a gathering point for Paris’ slaughterhouses and livestock markets, which it operated as until 1974 when it closed in the face of challenges around modernisation and financial difficulties.
Five years after the site closed, it was converted into a single area spanning 55 hectares that combining nature, architecture, leisure and culture. During its conversion, the park lost many of its original features and structures but one that remained is the Great Hall, which will host dozens of workshops during Airbnb Open and the highly anticipated Host Awards ceremony.
Our guests who join us on-site at Airbnb Open will also be able to walk around the park amongst its footbridges, marquees and barges, as well as being able to explore their surroundings.
If you follow the canal towards the centre of Paris, you’ll find yourself at La Villette basin, an area marked by an incredible urban metamorphosis. For several years, people meet to practice pétanque alongside those who set sail on an urban boats for themed cultural evenings. People go there to sit in the Rotonde or the Pavillon des Canaux, for the flea markets, restaurants and cinemas that have spread across the entire 19th arrondissement. The more adventurous – or just plain ‘brave’ – of the park’s visitors even go to the basin for a quick dip when it gets too hot in the summer, though we wouldn’t recommend it because doing so can earn you a fine, and, if you don’t have a towel, a cold to boot.
Looking from the other side of the canal you can see the contrast in the city’s styles. Towards the outskirts of Paris, there is a touch of Berlin in the air. Here, the industrial remains have been turned into canvases for graffiti artists. The population lives and competes with trendy Villette. A few hundred metres from the park, the industrial town of Pantin attracts Parisian “bobos” as well as Chanel and Hermès who have also recently moved in. The area is full of artistic expression and celebration, particularly through the National Dance Centre and galleries which are based here.
The Parc de la Villette district is a fascinating place with plenty to explore and discover. And if you get lost or stuck for something to do, don’t panic – just ask. There’ll be thousands of people around who will be only too happy to help out. That’s the beauty of spending time with the Airbnb community.
Welcome to Parc de la Villette.
Many Parisians hosts will be with us during the Airbnb Open, and we look forward to meeting them so that they can tell us about Paris. We hope to see lots of you at La Villette in November and discover the City of Lights together.
Banner: ©Philippe Levy