La Petite Ceinture is one of Paris’ best kept secrets and something I stumbled upon on Facebook by mere coincidence. I spent three of my weekends looking for it and didn’t notice that the first time it was right under my nose… La Petite Ceinture (or Small Belt in English) is an abandoned railway that used to surround what was Paris in the 1850’s, being the most important source of transportation at the time. Today, a few parts of La Ceinture are used as inter-city rails, but a large portion of it has been abandoned or is “under construction” and nature has begun to take over the structure. There are several portions of La Ceinture around Paris, but not all of them are as incredible as the other, which is what I realized when I visited one of the only “Open to the Public” portions of it in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, when I found myself on what looked like a regular and unkept nature trail with no railways on it. I knew I had seen other amazing pictures of it online, so I kept searching. One rainy weekend in Paris I decided to go to the portion of the Ceinture that a friend of mine said he had found in the 14th arrondissement. When I got there, I realized that one of the entrances to the Ceinture was a slippery steep hill that I would most definitely not be able to get down through (especially not a rainy day with booties on), but my boyfriend pointed us towards what looked like an abandoned train station and he said that there must be a better entrance that way… When we got there, it was definitely a much better option, but it was obvious that this portion of the Ceinture was not necessarily “open to the public.” For anyone who decides to come here, I suggest you go with 3 or 4 other people, as you will feel a lot safer*. There are other explorers in the Ceinture, but since there are a lot of dark tunnels and the like, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Walking into this place feels like you’re in another world. To me it felt like time stopped and I was in this unknown part of Paris – even though I was surrounded by a hustling, bustling city! It was so mesmerizing to think that this railway that you’re standing on was used over 100 years ago…and to see it being taken over by nature is incredible. It is also evident that some pretty talented graffiti artists visited the place, which makes the Ceinture all that more unique…
I think the pictures speak for themselves, so here you go. 🙂
À la prochaine mes amis!
*Disclaimer: there are other open portions of the Petite Ceinture that I am still exploring, but the one in the 14th arrondissement is not open to the public, so there may be fines associated with being there if for some reason the police is patrolling the area. This area is supposedly under construction by the RATP of Paris (although no construction is really taking place at the moment). Just FYI!