Viaduc des Arts is a green oasis for people out for a stroll and for those who love shopping. Mademoiselle Lili goes exploring off the beaten track.
Less than eight minutes’ walk from Gare de Lyon, there’s a little bit of Paris where you can experience the rare but beautiful feeling of being alone among Parisians. For a few years, many creative talents from the fashion and media have been flocking to the district between Bastille and the forest on the eastern side of Paris, Bois de Vincennes. For example, Parasolerie Michel Heurtault (www.parasolerieheurtault.com). The environmentally conscious aesthete, who usually only rides a bike in town, loves his 12th arrondissement, which is mostly ignored by the masses of tourists.
He snagged one of the 50 studios in the Viaduc des Arts, which are in great demand due to the low rents. Heurtault is self-taught. For half of his life, he worked as a tailor for theatre, opera and haute couture. Now he has fulfilled his childhood dream: He handcrafts parasols and umbrellas and restores historic ones that are used in museums or costume dramas by Sofia Coppola or Woody Allen. His mission: To turn umbrellas and parasols into the stylish and practical fashion accessories that they once were. There’s nobody that tells as sexy a tale of mundane umbrellas as he. “Look”, he says, and takes one of around 3000 historic items out of a drawer. Cute little ruffles on the outside, but inside the ivory-decorated handle hides a sharp rapier. “19th century Parisian ladies used this to defend themselves against ruffians or wild dogs”.