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Local Matters / Changing Landscape

34 Parisian bandstands to be renovated

Kiosque square Edouard Vaillant, Wikimedia Commons : LPLT

Erected in a variety of epochs, Parisian kiosques, or bandstands, are a common sight in many of the capitals’ parks and gardens. This year the City of Paris has launched the renovation of 34 of them.

Following the announcement at the beginning of April of the greening of 41 Parisian walls as part of the “du vert près de chez moi”, or “greenery near my home” project we reported on in a previous article, it is now the capital’s park bandstands that are to be refurbished. Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo revealed on April 26th the location of the 34 kiosques concerned.

Festively named “des kiosques pour faire la fête” — literally “bandstands to party” — the project sees these historical structures not only revamped but also reformed into free platforms hosting a variety of social activities.

The project falls under the wider “participative budget” initiative, where residents are encouraged to share ideas on how to enhance the city and its public spaces on a dedicated website. The renovations envisaged range from simple facelifts to major restoration work, costing between 30,000 and 400,000 euros per stand, with all of them being electrified. Built between 1890 and 1920, ten in particular will require extensive work, including new steel frames.

According to the extent of the work involved, some stands will be ready by the end of the year, others in 2016.

The 34 bandstands are located in almost every arrondissement, in prominent parks such as the Buttes Chaumont, or the Eiffel Tower’s gardens: the Champ the Mars, but also in lesser known areas of the capital, such as the Square Edouard Vaillant pictured above. A Mairie de Paris map shows the location of each one of the 34 bandstands to be renovated.

Cultural heirs of the Chinese pavilions which were very fashionable in the eighteenth century, the kiosques are not only familiar elements of the Parisian landscape, accompanying the city throughout its history the past few decades, they also played a significant role in residents’ access to music and culture. Only a handful of them still host concerts and free events while most of them have fallen into disuse.

Post-renovation these historic edifices will be the scene of cultural and sporting activities.

Pénélope Komitès, the deputy in charge of Green Spaces and Nature explains that “beyond material improvements, we will act to expand their utility, transforming them into user-friendly public places”. She talks of opening the bandstands up to all practices, including “music, dance, theater, puppet shows, sports practice and demonstrations”, as well as to some of their initial uses: rehearsal spaces for amateur or professional artists, performance areas for mimes, dancers and other entertainers, along with simply accommodating sheltered children’s play.

This project will complement certain cultural events already involving the bandstands such as Kiosques en musique and the Kiosquorama festival. In order to spread the concept all over the capital, the City of Paris also plans to provide temporary and mobile bandstands in parks and gardens lacking kiosques, perhaps expressly in those of the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th and 14th arrondissements, as these are as of yet the only Parisian districts devoid of these notable landmarks.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / LPLT (Square Edouard Vaillant)

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