The Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris or just CitéU, is a fun spot to hang out at anytime of the day (or night). It is essentially a complex of student university houses spread throughout a huge park. Many houses are architectural landmarks and almost all hosts concerts and art exhibits. Oh, and parties too!
To any student coming to Paris, staying at a student residence at the CitéU is an essential experience! Here is where you will make your first friends and where you will party and relax! I was lucky enough to live at the CitéU for a year and half and would like to tell you why I love that place so much and why I burnt through so many roles of film there.
The CitéU was a project of André Honnorat who, with the help of Émile Deutsch de la Meurthe, built the first student residences that opened to the public in 1925. They wanted to create a campus that would receive students and academics from all over the world and in the following years many countries had residences built there. Quickly, the CitéU became an architectural lab, with many famous architects designing student houses. Take a look at the Spanish house, built in the distinctive style of the School of Salamanca, next to the British house, a building you would expect to find in an English university campus. Or the Japanese house, a pagoda-inspired building just next to it.
One of my favorites is the Swiss Pavilion, built in 1932 by the famous architect Le Corbusier with Pierre Jeanneret. It is the first modern house at CitéU, an architectural landmark where many new techniques were explored and developed! You can visit the inside and a model room with the original furniture.
Another collaboration of Le Courbusier, this time with Lucio Costa resulted in the Brazilian House, a landmark modernist building that is an interesting mix of 50s industrial look with funky Brazilian vibe.
Finally, a building very close to my heart, is where I had the pleasure of living for a year: the Swedish House. A sweet, white pavilion with blue window panes, this house has only 43 rooms decorated with Swedish furniture, giving it an authentic and family-like feeling.
These are only some of the houses, many more await your visit. Many houses are open to the public and host art exhibits and concerts regularly. During the day, I believe you can visit almost any house, just knock on the door and the usually friendly staff will let you have a look around.
The other great thing about CitéU is that it is actually an enormous park with many fields of grass where you can find the students sunbathing as soon as the first rays of sun show up. It’s excellent for picnics at any time of the day or night: unlike the other parks, the CitéU does not close at sunset so you can stay there as long as you want! And if you’re hanging around, you might manage to go one of the famous parties organized regularly by the student houses!