Neil Atherton
Neil Atherton - Paris

Neil Atherton is a Paris-based photographer and curator from the UK. He has called Paris home for over a decade and still speaks French with an English accent. His personal photography is based almost uniquely on the use of out-of-date film and explores the physical effects of time on memory. He has a large camera collection of ‘70s rangefinders and compacts from the ‘80s and organizes the biannual photography festival Mois de a Photo-OFF.

Le Bal (Cafe) (Gallery)

Paris by Neil Atherton

Opened in 2011 by the people at Magnum Photo Agency (their Paris bureau is a few streets away), Le Bal is an institutional exhibition space dedicated to the documentary image. For the most part that means lots of photography exhibits but they like to mix up the shows with videos and especially books. They hold conferences with a great line-up of guest speakers and screen documentaries and other films at the nearby Cinéma de Cinéastes. Be sure to check out the bookshop where you can browse through their connoisseur’s collection of high-end photo books and limited edition zines. Le Bal Café is a great place to meet friends for a quick drink or sit down and taste Anna and Alice’s Anglo-French cuisine. And if you’re wondering why it’s called Le Bal, the space was once a dance hall cum brothel in the roaring ‘20s.

Address
Le Bal | 6 Impasse de la Défense, 75018 | Paris

Le Gaité Lyrique (Music Venue) (Art Centre)

Paris by Neil Atherton

This is another artistic centre that opened recently, this time housed in a former 19th century music hall that later became an indoor roller coaster attraction (yeah, really). The temporary exhibitions can be hit or miss, but I like hanging out in the free, open-to-all library on the first floor where you can sit in the futurist media pods and flip through the latest arts, culture, music, design and architecture magazines. Their shelves are also filled with a growing endowment of books which seem to be acquired according to the theme of the aforementioned exhibitions. Internet access is available on a dozen or so PCs (or via WiFi on your own machine) and for gamers, there are a few consoles connected to largish plasma screens. The café upstairs, with its classic baroque meets retro-futurist interior, is a sight to behold.

Address
Le Gaité Lyrique | 3bis Rue Papin, 75003 | Paris

Jardin des Plantes Zoo (Zoo) (Attraction)

Paris by Neil Atherton

Paris, unlike London, Brooklyn and err Chester, isn’t famed for its zoo. That’s because there isn’t anything quite as big here, but if its quality as opposed to size you’re looking for then the zoo in the Jardin des Plantes won’t leave you disappointed. There are about 1800 animals here, a third of which are endangered species, like the Amur leopard, pictured. The reptile house has big snakes and snap-happy crocodiles. There are even kangaroos and some other animals you wouldn’t have thought hardy enough to adapt to the cold chill of the Paris winters. The only drawback is the monkey house, which is a rather forlorn place with depressed-looking chimpanzees and gorillas gazing through shit-stained glass cages.

Address
Jardin des Plantes Zoo | 57 Rue Cuvier, 75005 | Paris

Les Puces de Clignancourt (Market)

Paris by Neil Atherton

I go to the flea market in St Ouen to look for old cameras and expired film. But it’s also a great place to see all the different walks of life from Paris’ extreme social scene. At the top of the ladder you’ve got the aristo-bourgeois crowd acquiring Louis XV furniture at the indoor antiques markets; the thirty-something bobo set paying way over the odds for mid-century designer chairs and formica tables; the banlieusards from the Neuf Trois getting kitted out with the latest sneakers and hoodies along the rue des Rosières; then at the very bottom you’ve got people trying to scratch a living selling second hand food at the Carré des biffes at Porte Montmartre. It’s an eye opener for sure.

Address
Les Puces de Clignancourt | 140 Rue des Rosiers, 93400 | Saint-Ouen

Rooftop at Le Printemps (Shop) (Cafe)

Paris by Neil Atherton

Climb your way up the escalators to the 9th floor of the Printemps department store (the Beauté & Maison building) for possibly one of the best panoramic views of Paris. You can see pretty much everything from here and unlike the views from the Eiffel Tower you’re right in the middle of the city and can almost reach out and touch the monuments around you. Go up on a sunny afternoon and take a seat on one of the benches, lay down on the fake grass lawn or have a drink and a snack at the Deli-Ciel café.

Address
Rooftop at Le Printemps | 102 Rue de Provence, 75009 | Paris

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