Paris is expanding its creative space at the outer city limits, inviting visitors to explore lesser-known parts of the French capital in search of art and culture.

Industrial building exterior
The new Komunuma art complex in Romaineville ©Axelle Poisson

If you've been to Paris, chances are you've ticked the big culture players off your must-see list: the Louvre, Centre Pompidou, Musée d'Orsay, Palais de Tokyo... All world-class museums conveniently located in the heart of the city and next to all the other good bits Paris has to offer: great bars, restaurants and prime people-watching posts in café terraces. Because there's so much to see and do in the city, most visitors don't get the chance to venture outside the usual arrondoissements. And for a long time, there hasn't been much of a reason to do so, especially when short on time.

But that could change thanks to an initiative from Fondation Fiminco, a non-profit that's bringing contemporary art to the Parisian city limits. On 20 October 2019, it will launch Komunuma, an art complex located near the Canal de l’Ourcq in Romainville, a suburb about 3km north of Paris (15 minutes if you hop on a metro). Taking advantage of the 11,000 sq metres available to them, in what was once a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, the art complex has one major advantage over similar ventures in the city: heaps of space.

Industrial building in a field of grass
Komunuma is inviting tourists to explore a different side of Paris ©Axelle Poisson

Indeed there's so much space that five galleries from the centre of Paris will set up shop in Komunuma, galleries such as Jocelyn Wolff, Imane Farès, Galerie Sator, Air de Paris, and In Situ Fabienne Leclerc. Spread across five buildings, including one massive boiler room, the complex will also house a large exhibition hall, open studios and an artist residencies programme. Following an open call for applications in February, the foundation has already selected 18 international artists to take part; the first nine will arrive in January, while the rest will arrive in June 2020.

"The Fiminco Foundation offers the public the opportunity to [experience] art in creation, through artistic programming and meetings with artists in residence. The proposed events, completely free, are a unique opportunity to discover what goes on behind the scenes," a Fiminco spokesperson said in a statement.

Inside an empty warehouse
Inside one of the buildings that's due to be repurposed as an art gallery ©Axelle Poisson

Additional galleries are expected to move in soon, and a new regional art centre, Frac Île-de-France/Les Réserves, will be inaugurated at the venue in autumn 2020. Live performances and all-ages events are also in the pipeline.

The initiative is partly a result of the "Grand Paris" project which aims to boost development in the city's suburbs through improved transit an emphasis on sustainability. And with reports of overtourism in the city, including the July overtourism-induced closing of the Louvre, now is the best time to see what else Paris has to offer, outside of the usual hotspots.

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