Montsouris: The Last Farm In Paris

In Montsouris, there used to be the last farm in Paris. Barely 2 miles south of Notre Dame. Here is what happened 10 years ago and what has become of it.

Montsouris: The Last Farm In Paris

In Paris, next to where we live in Denfert Rochereau, over the catacombs, there used to be a “farm”. Don’t misunderstand me, it wasn’t a farm with meadows and fields all around, more like a milk shop with cows in the back yard; I can imagine, the smell and the filth, this must have been something.

For 50 years or so, the building was closed and a battle took place. It opposed those who wanted to restore it as is and those who want to build an 8-storey block of flats with an underground car-park. As usual in that kind of situation, none of the 2 sides are right or wrong. It’s just that they were firmly opposed to one another and – in a very Gallic way – none of the two sides will budge from their position.

Farm Paris
In June 2013: outside the farm, a fistful of opponents to a real estate project on the plot of the Farm ; a project which almost never came to life

The medieval quarry underneath

Opponents contend that the medieval quarry underneath is a landmark but it’s also a very dangerous place which led to the destruction of many buildings in the very street where these people are standing and the death of quite a few people in one of the most deadly quarry collapses at the end of the nineteenth century.

Things aren’t black or white, they are black and white at the same time. The result of this wanton feud was that for many years we didn’t get a farm, nor a new building, nor a new cultural centre as was once proposed. We had nothing but a derelict building which could have collapsed.

The June 2013 gathering

Paris Farm
In June 2013 a gathering was organised to protect the building or what was then left of it
Paris Farm
Dufresne, the leader of the opposing movement in Gallic resistance mode; he is a painter and has gained fame in that battle, being in touch with many politicians from all sides and interviewed by the Press every now and then
Farm Paris
Keep your hands off my milk pot
Dufresne briefing the Press

10 years fast forward

10 years later, things have moved on.

A Real Estate development firm named Soferim finally went on with the project and it’s not that offensive. It’s overly priced, ridiculously and pompously named “Spring Garden” but it’s ten times better than the derelict building that was there before.

Spring Garden – Image by Soferim

They even designed a logo for it.  Soferim renovated the last Paris farm. The not for profit organisation that was dead against it before now seems to be more positive. The Town Hall purchased the quarry, and it vowed to protect it.  Soferim is also in the process of rehabilitating a cute nineteenth century villa.

All is well that ends well.

Yann Gourvennec
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