Fancy a round (or two) of shopping followed by a workout at the gym, or how about relaxing in a sauna before a tasty lunch? For film buffs, how about a choice of movie on one of 18 indoor screens in an attractive suburban Paris setting? Then look no further than Bercy Village, an outdoor shopping complex in Cour St. Emilion, Paris. Strolling along its central, tulip-lined cobblestone streets past terraced restaurants and retail stores makes for a delightful day out.
Photo Credit: Columbia Hillen
Among the 36 retailers in-situ are Nature et Decouvertes, offering outdoor gifts; Fragonard, the Provence-based perfumer; Arteum, selling artistic objects including photo albums and designer notebooks; Agnes b, a specialized women’s clothing store; and Yellow Korner, a photo gallery.
There are also 16 eateries to choose from including Chai 33 which is both an informal bistro upstairs and a sophisticated restaurant downstairs. Downstairs offers a full-range menu featuring fish or beef tartare; pasta and risotto; two types of steaks as well as guinea fowl and lamb dishes; and ice creams and sorbets for dessert. It also has its own extensive underground wine cellar, with around 300 different labels and 8,000 bottles. There is also Boco, where eight well-known chefs design foods which are then served in small containers; Eric Kayser, serving pastries and sandwiches; and The Frog, known for its pub grub. Most stores are open from 11 a.m. until around 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and most eateries stay open until 2 a.m.
Photo Courtesy of Bercy Village
Bercy Village, once a complex of wine warehouses in its previous 18th Century life, was established in 2002 by Altarea Cogedim, a major real estate group in collaboration with the city of Paris. The chosen architects were Valode & Pistre and renovation of the wine storehouses started in 1996 with the first shops and restaurants opening three years later. The railway tracks upon which the barrels of wine were transported to either the boats on the nearby Seine River or to the Gare de Lyon, are still embedded in the street, a visible reminder of the illustrious history of the place. Bercy, which was an independent municipality of Paris until 1860, was a place where nobles came to relax and a center of popular leisure with guinguettes — places with popular music and dancing.
Representatives of Bercy Village, Founder and CEO of Public Relations firm Pop Spirit, Isabelle Vernhes, and Charlotte Vincent said the complex receives around 12 million visitors a year, about 20 percent of which are tourists. June through July are the busiest months.
Photo Courtesy of Bercy Village
Cinema is among the entertainment choices at Bercy Village as well as a series of outdoor concerts and dance performances, with music ranging from classical to rock to pop. Included in the activities is Opera côté Cour, with nine concerts each Sunday, June through September. Additional acts consist of Musiques en Terrasse, part of the world music festival and Fete de la Musique on June 21 and then every Tuesday and Thursday from the end of June until end of August. During summer, Bercy Village also hosts three music and dance shows as part of the Paris Quartier d’Ete. On September 14-15, during European Cultural Heritage Days, there are discovery tours with insights into the history of the village and its development. It also organizes treasure hunts, a design flea market, photo exhibitions and artists’ decorations for summer and Christmas.