Nouveau 13e Paris

Walking around the new 13th and the new Bibliotheque nationale

A pirate ship, a swimming pool, and a forest are some of the surprises in the urban renewaal zone around the new national library.

From avenue de France, walk up rue Neuve Tolbiac and head toward the river. Railway warehouses once filled the area; now new buildings are going up everywhere. Turn right onto rue des Frigo, where former cold-storage facility Les Frigos (1, 19 rue des Frigos) now houses artists’ and musicians’ studios (most are private except on special occasions, but two galleries are open to the public). Return to rue Neuve Tolbiac, turn left, and take rue Jean Anouilh. Clim the wooden steps to the deck of the Bibliothèque François Miterrand (2). France’s new national library is so big it has been nicknamed the TGB – short for très grande bibliothèque or “very big library”. From the center of the deck, look down to see the forest in the middle of the building. Then go down the escalator to see the two huge Coronelli Globes in the Halle des Globes. Leave the deck on the river side via the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir (3), a beautiful modern footbridge designed like two ellipse, and cross quai François Mauriac (which leads to Parc de Bercy). Instead of crossing the river, walk down the ramp to the riverbank, where the Guinguette Pirate (4), a replica of a wooden Chinese sailing junk with a Jolly Roger flying from the mast, hosts a children’s program of music, clowning, and theater (usually 3 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday). Bring swimsuits and have a swim in the Piscine Josephine Baker (5), a floating swimming pool moored nearby (special family sessions on weekend mornings). In fine weather, the roof comes off.

Metro Station : Quai de la Gare (Line 6), Bibliothèque François Mitterrand (Line 14)