The Miroiterie, in the Menilmontant area, is a colourful housing complex which is squatted legally by artists. The Miroiterie features an unusual shop: at ‘Magasin Gratuit’ everything is free. Customers bring clothes, books or cds and exchange it for other stuff on offer. The magasin is jammed with trash. Sometimes it is hard to find anything that's worthwhile taking home. Next door is the gallery of Miroiterie, exhibiting mainly street-art. Prices for the pictures are to be negotiated with the artists themselves and are generally very affordable. The artists can be watched at work in the backyard. The opening times for the gallery and the ‘Magasin Gratuit’ vary according to the mood of the artist.
Multi-cultural quarter Belleville mixes the remnants of the French chanson culture and the electronic underground. From Thursday to Saturday, sing-along chanson nights are held at ‘le vieux belleville’. It offers good-priced Parisian cuisine and artists like Raton who entertains the eclectic audience with his mechanical accordion. A short walk away is the ‘l’ile enchantee’, where every Thursday they hold the ‘le retour du jeudi’ night. On the ground floor of l’ile de chantee is a spacious lounge bar which is quiet enough to have a relaxed chat with friends. Upstairs top Parisian DJs like feadz spin electro beats.
Once darkness has fallen on Paris, underworld freaks lead illegal tours down 20-metre ladders into the city’s catacombs. These deep tunnels were created when stones were dug up and used to construct some of the French capital’s most splendid buildings. The tour lasts five hours, and participants need headlamps, water and good walking shoes. The descent is quite dangerous, and visitors can easily injure themselves on the low stone walls. Those who go down without a guide are sure to get lost in the 300-kilometre maze of tunnels. Down in the 200-year-old catacombs the work of unknown underground artists is visible. A refreshment break takes place in a former Second World War bunker which sometimes also plays host to Parisian raves. If walkers are caught coming out of the catacombs, they can be fined by police. Catacombs tours can be booked over the internet – at participant’' own risk.
Presenter Toby Amies meets Gaspard Delanoe, the charismatic leader of one of Paris’ most audacious artistic squats and witnesses exactly what contemporary struggling artists can achieve when they all work together to breathe life into a disused Paris bank. Inspired by Gaspard’s surreal bicycle, Toby decides to make a junk-art bike of his own. At Europe’s largest flea market Toby meets casting agent Speedy Yellow, who sources models for fashion shoots from ordinary people she meets on the street. Toby gets an insight into Paris trash-chic and a forgotten dance culture when Speedy decides Toby fits the bill for an upcoming fashion shoot in a traditional Parisian guingette ballroom. Society dandy Emmanuel de Brantes dissects Parisian social mores and teaches Toby the meaning of Paris chic and the serious art of fine dining, before a little gentleman's grooming at the city’s finest barber and an invitation to a high society soiree at the Paris Film Festival. Toby visits the Friday night Pari Roller, where thousands of skaters take over the city's streets, and has a memorable Buggy Rollin encounter with a strange man who negotiates the pavements of Paris like a human luge. Sound sculpture Jacques Remus shows Toby there's more to Parisian music than meets the eye when he makes music from washing machines and industrial cast-offs. Trendspotter Joelle Dirringer gives Toby a backstage look at the Paris perfume industry when she takes him to the Givaudan perfume laboratory to meet the 'noses' who develop the world's favourite toilet cleaners and exquisite new fragrances. Toby learns a new French art involving ice cubes, irons and chainsaws from Joelle's boyfriend Michele Amann, the world ice-carving champion.