This grand building from 1923 – slightly past its prime – has some surprising secrets…
photos : jasonw
Strictly speaking the building is called the “Palais du Commerce”, but although its days as a palace are now behind it, the place still has a certain charm, with some really beautiful little details.
Built in 1923-24, there were originally fifty shops here spread over the three floors. A central main entrance takes you down a corridor to the back end of the building from where a double staircase (one on each side) leads to the upper floors. The walkways have some glass bricks at intervals in order to let us much light through as possible, and two mini bridges on each floor lead connect the opposite balconies.
We were surprised to be able to get upstairs (I think it’s usually closed off). The ground floor has a couple of cheap sportswear shops. Most of the space on the first floor is now taken up with design or web agencies. The top floor is closed off (couldn’t really see what is up there).
However it’s for the basement that most people know the place as “La Java”. The lower floor used to be a bal-musette where Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier both started out. Now an alternative nightclub hosting some of the nights that used to be at the decadent hip Pulp club (take a look at the site for more info), we recommend their gay-friendly ‘Mona‘ night; the last two before the summer are on Saturday 28th June and Saturday 12 July 2008. Cheap beer and loose
The area around the building is good for a Sunday walk, as all the shops are open. Don’t expect chic though; this is the underbelly of Paris, with chinese supermarkets, tacky clothes and slightly dodgy men (nothing dangerous though). As you can tell, we loved the building’s stained glass windows. Make sure you check ’em out; it is a listed monument after all!
The Palais du Commerce and La Java are at 105 rue du Faubourg du Temple, Paris 10th arrondissement. Métro Goncourt or Belleville (line 11).
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