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Last updated on the 24th May 2021 by Lena
Paris has many off-the-beaten-track activities in store for you, but exploring the petite ceinture is one of the most exciting ones.
The petite ceinture is a 36 km long old railroad spanning Paris, with its tracks and stations laying abandoned and – mostly – closed for public fallow.
The old rails belong to the Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture, a circular railway around Paris that served once as the first urban transport system. Finished in 1867, the railway became quickly an important connection between the village-like parts of Paris – both for the transport of freights and as a passenger service. With the launch of the first Metro lines in 1900, its usage declined slowly but steadily until the train services were permanently shut down in 1934.
Since then, the rails lay mostly abandoned and fallow
Until a few years ago. An initiative launched several projects to rehabilitate the old chemin de fer and to transform it into an urban park. With so much success that the City of Paris makes more and more sections accessible. By now, around 8 rail segments are open to the public and some former train stations were transformed into bars, restaurants, or cultural spaces.
The goal of transforming the old railways is to keep the patrimony of the railway on one hand, but also to preserve biodiversity on the other. And it’s going well, I’d say! The rails are covered with wild flora consisting of more than 200 plant species and more than 70 animal species. I even saw a little lizard once!
Anyway, If you were hoping to set off soon for an amazing hike following the tracks around Paris, I have to disappoint you. Some rails in the west are used today by the Parisian suburb trains RER and many of the tunnels are sealed.
Where to find the public sections of the petite ceinture in Paris?
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As it won’t be possible to circumnavigate Paris by foot following the tracks, you can still visit the different sections individually or combine them with a hike along the GR2024.
Read on to know where exactly are the route sections of the petite ceinture that you can visit!
Opening times of the petite ceinture
The petite ceinture is operated as a public park and the normal opening times are applying. Usually, they open at 9h during the week and at 9:30h on weekends. The closing time depends on the season:
May to August: 20:30
November – February: 16:45
March – April: 18 (19:30 when summer starts)
Petite ceinture in the 20th Arrondissement, PC20
This section is by now only 220 m long, but is planned to extend to 800 m in the future.
Access: 79 Rue de Menilmontant or 11 rue de la Mare (accessible to people with reduced mobility)
Petite ceinture in the 19th Arrondissement, PC19
The 19th is a great spot to have a walk on the petite ceinture as you have not only 2 sections, but one is even crossing the Canal de l’Ourqc. In total, the walk is 800m long.
Access: 30 rue de Thionville for the 1st section and 177 Avenue de Flandre for the 2nd section
Petite ceinture in the 18th Arrondissement, PC18
Even though there is no itinerary in the 18th arrondissement that follows our railways, it still deserves a spot on this list. The reason being Le REcyclerie! In my humble opinion, it is one of the coolest places in Paris – a restaurant, bar, urban farm, workshop, and cultural space, located in the old Ornano train station (belonging to the petite ceinture!) and absolutely worth a visit.
Access: 83 boulevard Ornano
Petite ceinture in the 17th arrondissement, PC17
The section in the 17th arrondissement is 700 m long and lays around 6 m under the street level.
Access: 2 Boulevard Péreire
Petite ceinture in the 16th arrondissement, PC16
This section is with 1.2 km one of the longer ones. Contrary to some other parts, the rails got removed in this section and the former railway is now a long walkway through a very green space.
Access: 77 Boulevard de Montmorency and 27 Boulevard de Beauséjour
Petite ceinture in the 15th arrondissement, PC15
Another one of the legally accessible parts is the petite ceinture in the 15th arrondissement in the south of Paris. If you want to see Paris from a different angle, visiting the old rails is definitely one of the unique non-touristy things to do in Paris.
The petite ceinture stretches 1.5km along the south of the 15th arrondissement. The park is a strong contrast to the neatly maintained Parisian parks – its natural biodiversity holds more than 200 species of wild plants and 70 species of animals. To preserve this piece of urban nature, the park is not artificially illuminated or planted.
Access 99 Rue Olivier de Serres or Place Robert Guillemard
If you are already in the area, make sure not to miss the local flea market and antique book fair! Read more here
Petite ceinture in the 14th arrondissement, PC14
Access 124 avenue du Général Leclerc and 96 bis rue Didot
This section connects Rue Didot with Rue du Général Leclerc and got not very much modified. It even still contains the old train station platforms and even the old train station building itself.
If you are thirsty (or hungry!) after your walk, stop by Poinçon Paris. This bar and restaurant is located in the old train station of the petite ceinture. They also have a very nice outdoor seating area!
Petite ceinture in the 13th arrondissement, PC13
This section is 500 m long and is part of the garden Poterne-des-Peupliers.
Access: 9 Rue Augustin Mouchot, 26 Rue de l’Interne Loeb, Jardin de la Porte des Peuiliers
Petite ceinture in the 12th arrondissement, PC12
Access: Villa du Bel Air or Charles Pèguy Square, also rue des Meuniers and rue du Sahel
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