Tucked away in a discreet passageway in Paris’ 10th arrondissement is the weirdly fantastical Flateurville, an imaginary city with a real-world address. Artist Laurent Godard has created an entire history and narrative for his fake village, and the space feels truly out of this world. If you didn’t think it possible to step inside someone else’s creative mind, come give this place a try.
When you first enter Flateurville, you’ll feel a moment of confusion. The first room is small and somber; there probably won’t be anyone lingering here. A TV might be playing, a few art objects scattered about, but otherwise the room’s a bit suffocating.
Head through the small hallway, however, and you’ll enter a room with a small stage, Christmas trees and other foliage (yeah, you read that right). This is where bands and other performers are invited to play.
But the exploration has just begun. Next is a brightly lit room with paintings on every wall and a large vault in the center of the room. So many random elements, though you get the impression everything is there for a reason.
Frolic in the “playroom” on one side or head to the room on the other. Old black and white photographs, paintings, and machines; the first time I visited, I didn’t know where to set my eyes, there’s so much to see.
The largest room features not only Godard’s artwork, but also temporary exhibitions. It’s big enough to house cars, pianos, motorcycles, and bathtubs, too. On expo nights, enjoy cheap drinks and free snacks.
When writing in English I try not to slip into Franglais. But two French words seem the most apt to describe the feeling of wonder when I discovered this place: delirant, hallucinant. (Delirious and hallucinating – not an elegant translation, but believe me, those are the words that spring to mind).
If you’re looking for a different experience in Paris, head to Flateurville on Thursdays to see what’s on. You might not understand what world you’ve stumbled into, but you probably won’t forget it.
24 cours des petits ecuries
Metro Strasbourg St. Denis
Note: Thursdays are open to the public starting at 6:30 PM, though it’s more animated later on. You can also visit by appointment – information available on their website. I’ve walked from the metro to Flateurville solo before, but it feels more comfortable walking in that area with friends.