Officially opened in spring 2012 and now in its final phase, Paris’ ultra-trendy and über-contemporary Les Docks – Cité de la Mode et du Design (The Docks – City of Fashion and Design) is the place to be seen. Whether you fancy filing up on vegetarian fare, sunbathing while nursing a cocktail as you gaze out onto the River Seine, dancing the night away or indulging in hula-hooping, yoga and Saturday afternoon shopping, the enormous cubist lime-green caterpillar crawling along the quai d’Austerlitz (Austerlitz quay) has emerged as one of the city’s hottest spots.
Paris might be famous for its 1800s Haussmannian architecture, endless boulevards and meticulous gardens, but the City of Light is slowly changing. The construction of Beaubourg in 1971 kicked off a radical change in the cityscape. A year ago, the audacious Cité de la Mode et du Design opened after an extensive transformation and now goes by the name of “Les Docks,” a nod to its history as an old Parisian port area.
Originally built in 1907 by architect Georges Morin-Goustiaux as a riverside warehouse in the port area, Les Docks has come a long way. Architectural firm Jakob + MacFarlane (also behind the Centre Pompidou’s rooftop restaurant, Georges) renovated it, keeping the original industrial structure, but adding a lime-green “skin” that hauls it into the 21st century. As well as being a new playground for the locals, the avant-garde building affirms itself as a symbol bridging the gap between past and future like no other in the city, making it a Paris landmark in its own right.
The 161,459-square-foot modernist hub houses the students of l’Institut Français de la Mode (the French Institute of Fashion), but the rest of the building is a dynamic urban playground where nearly anything is possible: Shop for furniture at Silvera; discover the latest fashion at Bleu de Paname; or eat meat-free fast food at the first Paris outpost of Brooklyn-based M.O.B. Imagined by urbanist Cyril Aouizerate (founder of popular Mama Shelter hotels), M.O.B has finally opened its very stylish doors to a curious crowd eager to dig into guilt-free veggie burgers and desserts, including the mouthwatering cheesecake.
Recently debuted as part of Les Docks’ final construction phase is the sprawling rooftop, which boasts panoramic views of the Seine. Restaurant and bar Le Nüba — by the team behind Le Baron, one of Paris’ trendiest clubs — serves burgers out of a wooden shack and high-end fare in the indoor dining room (reservations are essential as there are few tables inside). Back down the stairs and up the other side of Les Docks’ rooftop is the Moon Roof, where cocktails, hookah, live music and stand-up comedy are on the menu every night.
Downstairs, on the lower deck, is legendary Wanderlust, where the party is lively enough to rival Europe’s biggest venues from London to Berlin with day and night parties hosted by electronic music DJs. In the mornings, more sedate yoga and hula-hooping classes take place, as well as workshops for adults and the little ones, and food and clothing markets. While the Wanderlust terrace is closed for the season (it’s open April 15 through Sept. 15), be sure to put it on your list for next year’s spring or summer visit.
As for food, the gourmet restaurant We, part of the Wanderlust terrace, is open for dinner year-round and is headed by top contemporary chefs who rotate with the season. Last spring, Bertrand Grébaut, the palate behind Septime, oversaw the kitchen, while this fall, it’s Arnaud Daguin (as in the brother of Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Ariane Daguin), and winter will bring Alexandre Gauthier from La Grenouillère.
Photos Courtesy of Wanderlust, M.O.B. and Les Docks Cite de la Mode et du Design