I will be in Paris soon and I am interested in finding squat houses due to their cultural offer. Here where I live (Madrid, Spain) there are squat houses where talks, conferences or concerts are held in a more or less regular basis.

I searched in Google for "squat houses" but I found almost no information and most of it was outdated. Is there any "guide" of the most popular squat houses in Paris (in English or French)?

  • 1
    lecollectionneurmoderne.com/guide/top-10-friches-squats-paris lists some. Notice that this may not be valid anymore in a few weeks due to the inherent moving nature of the subject.
    – audionuma
    May 23, 2016 at 5:09
  • 2
    Be also aware that asking for a 'squat' in french will primarily be understood as a place to live for free, so you should add something like 'squat artistique'.
    – audionuma
    May 23, 2016 at 5:11

1 Answer 1


Yes, there are definitely squat houses in Paris

Today, in contemporary paris you can find alternative political and cultural activity in various squats or social centers. These are abandoned buildings (often government owned) that have been occupied and re-appropriated by groups of artists, performers, activists, musicians or just people that need a roof over their head. Paris has seen many years of this squatting tradition and though many of them have been closed down, a lot are opening and some have managed to become legitimate and are supported by local municipalities.

Some squat houses have been closed due to health and safety but are still available to look at

For example the very famous squat "electron libre chez robert" which is situated right in the heart of Paris at 59 rue de Rivoli was once said to be the 4th most visited tourist attraction of Paris and so was closed to the public a couple of years back due to health and safety precautions. However, when walking by rue de Rivoli you can still admire the eccentrically decorated facade of this typical Parisian apartment building.

Some Squat Houses can be viewed

  • Les Frigos

    Many squats are home to the ateliers and workshops of artists, the "Les Frigos" for example is home to about 100 artist ateliers, although nobody lives there. This 80 year old building was once a giant refrigerator producing ice hence its name which means 'the fridges'. Now it has been re-appropriated by numerous artists and its facade is filled with some impressive graffiti and mural art

  • La Générale

    an immense building (about 5000m3) with around 15 people living permanently and a collective of about 50 people occupying the ateliers and workshops on the three floors. They have a gallery which is very well known and often shows quite avant-garde work of upcoming or even established artists. As well, they often organize what is called a 'fête du quartier' (neighborhood party) which includes concerts, performances, theatre and an "open scene" where anybody can come up and perform

  • La Petite Rockette

    Not far from "La Générale", in the 11th is a squat that was opened last year and has been very active in the neighborhood ever since. Installed in an ancient school, "La Petite Rockette" has established a very good name for itself with a variety of open courses ranging from capoiera to IT classes for the elderly. They have a very busy schedule packed with expositions, concerts and theatre. Their impact on the neighborhood is really evident and the fact that everything is run by volunteers makes it all the more impressive. As it is relatively speaking quite a new squat, there is a lot of energy and motivation to keep things active and fresh.

Quoted information from An Alternative Guide To Paris

59 Rivioli is also a well known squat

The 59 Rivoli is a building right in the heart of Paris that's full of nothing but artist's studios. There's a gallery on the ground floor that has a new exposition every 2 weeks. In the beginning, it was a squat that was started by artists looking for a place to work, live and show. The artists opened it to the public 6 days a week. It's now legalized and still open to the public who can come through and visit the artists. Unlike a gallery where you only see a small amount of the artist's work, at 59 Rivoli, you get to truly enter into an artist's universe where the work is actually created.

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