If you haven’t yet been to Ground Control, imagine an enormous, disaffected hangar behind Paris’ Gare de Lyon train station transformed into a community space for locals, families, visitors, the “libres et curieux”, where you can eat, shop, celebrate, learn and make art, all in a spirit of sustainability, solidarity, cultural exchange, and camaraderie. It’s the latest incarnation of a project that started in 2014, and which I wrote about in 2016 when it was called Grand Train out in the old SNCF hangar in the 18th arrondissement.
One of the reasons I wanted to check it out was for the food. Outside there are a half dozen food trucks (well, food “busses” actually), like this one serving Indian cuisine. I had an amazing “Green Piece” vegan burger at the Mona bus, which came with amazing fries and homemade ketchup (why don’t more places do this?) There is plenty of outdoor seating with tables and parasols to keep the sun or rain away. Inside the hangar is a vast indoor food hall with more stands, seating, and the bars to get your drinks (all cups and bottles include a €1 deposit that you get back when you return them to the bar).
One of the restaurants making the most buzz in the press is La Résidence (the one on the far left in my crappy photo below), which opened as the first permanent space dedicated to refugee chefs, created after the annual Refugee Food Festival. The menu changes every 2-6 months as the chefs rotate, with specialities from their homeland, such as India, Syria, and Georgia.
“Wherever they are from, all the chefs invited to officiate at La Résidence are professional cooks looking for a new experience. This restaurant is destined to be a professional stepping stone: accompanied by chefs Stéphane Jego (L’Ami Jean) and Mohammad Elkhaldy, the guest chefs can use this space to express themselves, test their cooking and refine their talents.”
There are a few shops, all in the “local, ethical, sustainable” vein that Ground Control aims to promote. La Boutique has home decor, accessories, some clothing, and even furniture. The reproduction vintage SNCF train posters they sell are usually hard to find in Paris. Plantes pour Tous also has a permanent home here for those looking for affordable ways to add a little greenery to their Parisian apartment. Finally, because it’s France, of course there’s a bookshop, Charybde, that holds regular literary events.
When was the last time you played pinball? Ground Control’s Vidéodrome has a dozen machines.
It was pretty quiet on the Sunday afternoon I visited at 2pm, but there is a pretty solid schedule of regular events: concerts, classes, yoga, dance parties, kids’ art workshops, adults arts workshops (they don’t get all the fun!) and cultural events like the current expo on the moon. Check out the agenda here.
The main entrance for Ground Control is at 81 rue Charolais, 12th. After 10:30pm, the entrance is at #87.
And, like out of some warped Harry Potter episode, you can also enter directly from the train station by following the path to the left of platform 23.
On your right is platform (quai) 23 at Gare de Lyon. On the left is the bus terminal. Walk in between them through this parking lot.
On the left you’ll finally see this sign pointing you to the left.
Et voila, about 3 minutes from Gare de Lyon here you are! Ground Control is open Wednesday through Friday from noon-midnight, Saturday 11am-midnight, and Sunday 11am-10:30pm. No pets, and no outside food/drink allowed.