One of my favorite neighborhoods to wander in Paris is the 11th arrondisement. Behind closed doors often lies a whole new world, and if you’re lucky you can even time travel back to the Paris of Madame de Pompadour. This was the neighborhood of artisans and in this magical courtyard at 77 rue de Charonne used to work the cabinetmakers and carpenters that served the nobility of France.

The architecture of 77 rue de Charonne is simply unlike anywhere else in Paris–a narrow cobblestone courtyard surrounded by 5 floors of red ironwork balconies, matching the brick detailing. The new had Paris engulfed the old, concealing this place from the street. But fortunately it’s still a place we can discover today.  A pulley system allowed the raw wood, stored in the courtyard, to be lifted to the appropriate floor. The large windows were practical, letting in light for the craftsmen. Today they allow for the sunny ateliers of designers, architects, dance studios, yoga classes and theaters that inhabit the building.

Walking through the courtyard, I heard the sound of bluegrass music and poked my head in to a studio to find a band rehearsing. They waved and smiled. The wooden staircase wraps around an old elevator and as you peek around, you’ll come across some curious gnomes, a small community garden of sorts, and maybe the finger prints of Joan Collins?

Current occupants include La Loge, a theater and dance facility that also hosts live jazz, poetry and rock shows. The building is often used for film shoots, but there are many design firms also located within. The day I checked it out, there had clearly been a rocking party the night before in one of the studios. One table alone had 11 empty bottles of champagne and wine!

Check it out all for yourself at 77, rue de Charonne in the 11th arrondisement

Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.