You’re spending your holiday in the French capital, you don’t have a big budget and the other types of accommodation all seem exorbitant. So, why not go camping the centre of Paris? And you can at 82 Avenue Denfert Rochereau, the address of the former Saint Vincent de Paul hospital. This campsite was created by three associations that have set up a global project called "Les Grands Voisins". The Aurore association develops projects in favour of social inclusion through accommodation (six centres in all). Plateau Urbain assists Aurore and proposes premises in particular for small companies, artists, etc. Lastly, Yes We Camp coordinates everything and welcomes visitors. In practice, part of the former hospital infrastructure has been reused for the campsite. The reception is in the former boiler room and the canteen is in the former laundry room. Part of the sanitary facilities have also been renovated.
From the hammock to a cabin on stilts
The Grands Voisins campsite has a surprisingly wide range of accommodation at highly competitive prices. For €8 per person a night, you can sleep in a “dormitory" where the partitions are net fabrics and the beds are hammocks, with a week in Paris for €58... who can beat that? For €16 per person, you can sleep in a Brittany lighthouse - well, almost. Most of the accommodation consists of tents for two or three people, and are available respectively at €22 and €27 a night. If you prefer to spend the night in more solid accommodation, there’s no problem – three cabins for 2 and 4 people, including two on stilts, are available from €45 to €60. We recommend the "Nebulon", an adorable little nest for two, perched two metres off the ground.
All the services at a traditional campsite
Although an association runs the campsite, the Grands Voisins campsite is not at all an amateur operation. As well as respecting all the obligatory norms, the campsite has gone a long way in favour of sustainable development. So, the water in the showers is heated by solar power, using an ingenious system of tubes that are heated in the sun, and which the water runs through. To preserve users’ privacy, a partition can be rolled down from the ceiling. The sanitary facilities even include a cabin for people with reduced mobility. The water from the sink (where only organic soap is used) is purified through filters planted with reeds before flowing into the mains drainage. A washing machine is available to campers. You put in 5 litres of water, washing powder. To make it turn and wring out the clothes... you pedal.
The campsite also has a canteen service. It starts with breakfasts with free tea and coffee, while bread and pastries, as well as butter and jam cost €3. At the weekend, you can even enjoy a copious brunch for €13, perfect for building up your strength before spending the day in the capital. La Lingerie, the campsite restaurant, is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and provides full meals from €10. To this is added themed evenings (couscous, in particular), shared barbecues and plancha meals where each camper brings their own food. The aim, like the "Grands Voisins” project as a whole, is to create a link between the people staying on the site.
So are you tempted? If you want to find out more and even reserve, there’s just one telephone number: 07 83 76 21 00. But watch out, you only have until mid-October, when the campsite closes. Since building work (construction of an eco-district with 600 flats) is due to begin in the second quarter of 2017, it is unlikely that the Grands Voisins campsite will have a second season. Another good reason to hurry, less for accommodation at the very heart of Paris than for a highly original experience that could be a chance to make some great encounters. To find out more about the "Les Grands Voisins" project, visit: http://www.lesgrandsvoisins.org