One of the pitfalls of being lost in translation while living long-term in another country is that you discover a bit late that what you are looking for actually exists; it's just that you didn't know how to ask for it. That is certainly the case with La Recyclerie (photo credit Jeanne Menjoulet).
Coming from London with my 3 year old where I was regularly taking her to urban farms to see animals and to learn where food comes from, I was left a bit deflated and frustrated in Paris where the concept of city farm didn't seem to exist. I was asking other parents about such places to only be told that I need to go outside of Paris to see nature and visit farms. That was until I accidentally stumbled upon La Recyclerie and realised that actually there are multiple city farms in Paris. But as their proclamation is mostly about sustainability and being eco-friendly, I missed them in my research for child-friendly activities. Damn those google keywords..
La Recyclerie is housed within the Ornano train station which was shut down in 1939. It is located at Porte de Clignancourt in the 18th, just 5 minutes away from the famous flea markets. It houses a bar and cafe with high ceilings and bay windows and a lively hippy-grunge vibe. There is a lot of veggie-friendly food and wonderful juice blends, wine and good coffee. The classic brunch formula is 22 €, the vegetarian is 20 € and the child set-menu is 12 €. The place is open for brunch on Saturdays from 12pm to 3pm and Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm including on holidays.
Along the station platform you find terraces with sitting areas, a two-storey coop of 19 chickens, a garden of fruit trees, two composting systems, an indoor vegetable garden, an aquapony farm system, and a herb and vegetable garden of 400m2. There is also a meadow on the roof housing 4 bee hives! Every Tuesday at 3pm there is a guided tour of the farm. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the Recyclerie team they have significantly increased the local biodiversity making their soil one of the richest in Paris! More importantly through them I found out there are similar places all over Paris, which I can't wait to visit.
We visited on a Sunday and the place was quite busy but still pleasant. As the weather was warm we sat outside to have brunch and allow the kids to run around. They absolutely loved exploring the place unhindered and no one minded. They were fascinated by the chicken and the fish in the aquapony system, as well as intrigued by the aromatic herbs we tried out in the garden, while the makeshift wooden cabins along the terraces provided an unexpected playground.
It is a great place to visit with the family. You can enjoy a coffee or a meal undisturbed while the little ones explore the space. I also found out that it is a vibrant community hub with loads of events on offer, from DIY and up-cycling to working with tools workshop for kids to various ateliers (e.g. candle or soap making and clothes customisation) to kids' puppet theatre, to making toys, to gardening and much more! You can find out what's on at the agenda section of their website or their facebook page. The activities specifically in the Farm section are free for the members of the Friends REcycleurs (except "Les Chantiers de la Ferme"). Les Amis Recycleurs is an association that manages the pedagogical and cultural activities of the centre through membership.
83 Boulevard Ornano
T: 01 42 57 58 49
Metro: Line 4 (Porte de Clignancourt), Tram T3 (Porte de la Chapelle to 10 min)
Bus: 85 and 56
Vinci "Porte de Clignancourt"
30 avenue de la Porte de Clignancourt 75018 Paris
Opening times for the cafe:
Every day from 12:00 to 17:00
Photo credit: all photos are mine unless otherwise stated