New on an Island outside Paris: La Seine Musicale

New on an Island outside Paris: La Seine Musicale
The talk of the town in Paris this spring is the opening of an exciting new music venue on the L’île Seguin, an island in the Seine at the western edge of the city. Officially inaugurated on April 22, La Seine Musicale is home to both a major concert hall and a jewel-box of an auditorium for classical music performances. What’s so cool about this: the island used to be home to a giant Renault car factory, which was abandoned after the factory’s closure, and it’s now being revitalized under the guidance of architect Jean Nouvel. In 1999, Nouvel wrote an article arguing to preserve the island’s industrial history: “As beautiful as the Krak des Chevaliers , this is the Krak of the workers.” The idea is to create a new cultural destination, open to everyone, plus natural landscaped spaces perfect for Sunday strolls. La Seine Musicale was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban in partnership with French architect Jean de Gastines. The duo previously worked together on the Centre Pompidou Metz, a marvelous and ambitious construction which boasts a self-cleaning roof. A striking architectural icon, La Seine Musicale has some noteworthy design features: a solar sail which moves, on rails, to maximize sunlight, a rooftop garden, and a “folding” door so that visitors can walk through the building anytime. There’s a big screen outside so that even non-ticketholders can appreciate the show. La Seine Musicale will host an eclectic variety of performances: from musical theatre and rock concerts to ballet and classic music. The auditorium is home to the renowned Insula Orchestra, helmed by passionate conductor Laurence Equilbey. If you haven’t yet attended one of these concerts in Paris, we highly recommend it. And the acoustics in La Seine Musicale can’t be beat. The new artistic director is Jean-Luc Choplin, who worked wonders as director of the Théâtre du Châtelet, bringing le sophistiqué-populaire formula to the famous theater. Remember when his stage adaptation of “An American in Paris” was exported back to Broadway? (Read this excellent profile in France Today magazine here.) La Seine Musicale was joint financed by the Hauts-de-Seine department and private corporate sponsors. With the addition of this cutting-edge new music destination, Paris is really upping the ante. After all, the new Paris Philharmonic, situated in the 19th arrondissement, is already a world-class music destination. The city now has its perimeters covered. La Seine Musicale is open to the general public from 11 am–7 pm, Tuesday–Saturday (when concerts and events are not taking place). For tickets and event information, visit the official website:

Lead photo credit : La Seine Musicale. Photo: Laurent Blossier

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