November 6, 2015

Where is La Ruche?

Living in Paris over four years I need to dig a bit deeper to find places I have not explored yet. Every once in a while I'll come across a website with intriguing propositions. Yesterday was one of those tours that I had registered for on a hunch.

La Ruche in the Passage Dantzig- never heard of it?!?

Well, turns out La Ruche nestling discreetly in the 15th arrondissement - closer to Vanves than the metro line 6 - owes its existence to Alfred Boucher, a well-known sculptor and a generous philanthropist, who in 1902 set up this three-story circular structure thanks to recycled buildings from the 1900 World’s Fair.

La Ruche got its name because it looked more like a large beehive than any dwelling for humans. It was designed to help young artists by providing them with shared models and with a large exhibition space.

We had the privilege - since this building is usually closed to the public - to discover not only the architecture of this building classified as an "historic monument" and the romantic garden of age old trees, but also the small studios which, over the years, have been used by famous painters, sculptors and writers such as Chagall, Modigliani, Soutine and Brancusi.

Apparently at La Ruche the rent was dirt cheap and no one was evicted for non-payment. When hungry, many would wander over to artist Marie Vassilieff's soup kitchen (more genteely called her "Cantine") for a meal and conversation with fellow starving artists.

The story goes that the Russian painter Pinchus Kremegne got off the train at the Gare de l'Est with three rubles in his pocket. The only words in French he knew were "Passage Dantzig"; but that was all he needed to get him there.

Today, La Ruche still welcomes about 60 artists.

Ready to uncover this secret place

Admiring the Indian summer colours before entering

Originally a temporary building designed by Gustave Eiffel
for use as a wine rotunda at the Great Exposition of 1900

The structure was dismantled and re-erected as low-cost studios for artists
by Alfred Boucher (1850–1934)

A preservation mission - lead by Paul Sartre took over in 1971
turning La Ruche into a collection of working studios

Tone in tone with my outfit

Recycled wooden staircase, recycled?!?

Natural light peaking though the cupola

One of Alfred Boucher sculptures

These gates belonged to the Women's Pavilion during Paris' World Exhibition

A quiet corner in the garden

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