The National Archives
A window into the past, religious heritage is very present in Plaine Commune, as it is throughoutFrance. There are many 20th Century churches, such as the Eglise Saint Liphard, built in 1991. Each church has a particular point of interest. For example, the monumental mural in the Eglise du Sacré-Cœur on the theme of love, or the Notre-Dame des Missions church, which is considered to be a masterpiece of religious art. The area also boasts many older churches, including the Eglise Saint Pierre and the Notre-Dame du Rosaire church, both built in the romanesque revival style; the Saint Médard church dating back to the 17th Century; and also from the 17th Century the Saint-Ouen-le-Vieux church with its 18th-Century organ. The oldest church in Plaine Commune is Notre-Dame des Vertus, built in the Middle Ages.
In 1830, the boat basin was built in Saint-Ouen, which led to rapid industrialisation in the surrounding area. Several buildings from this era are still standing today, some of which have been given a second lease of life by companies who have chosen to rehabilitate them and establish their head offices here. You can explore the relics of our industrial heritage by following a walking trail focused on this theme around the town of Saint-Ouen and through the 19th Century Entrepôts et Magasins Généraux de Paris (Warehouses and general stores of Paris) currently used for numerous media productions.
The Christofle factory, founded in 1842 by Charles Christofle and his associate Joseph Bouilhet, moved to the banks of the Saint-Denis canal in 1875. The strategic location was logistically important, as at that time, raw materials were transported by boat. The company enjoyed a vast plot covering 21,000m², which enabled the goldsmith activity to be conducted under the same roof in Saint-Denis as the jeweller’s work. The factory employed 500 people. Since 2007, the building has been classed as a historical monument. The Christofle factory closed down operations in 2008.
Due to the danger of fire and explosion, match factories were not allowed to be built near residentialareas. Parisian matchmakers therefore required isolated, cheaper plots of land in the areas surrounding the Capital. In 1904 at the time of construction, the factory built in Aubervilliers was considered to have one of the most stunning chimneys in Europe. At 45m high, it towers over the site, which has been left unused since the 1960s. Designed by engineers from France’s famous Ecole Polytechnique university, the chimney top is decorated with a geometric pattern made with white and red bricks. The old factory remains a place of interest today, mainly because of its magnificent chimney, listed as a historical monument.
Since the 20th Century, Plaine Commune has experienced several waves of urban planning projects,some of which have left traces still visible today. The garden city of Stains is a perfect example, and evidence of the social housing policy of the 1920s. Elsewhere, the “4 routes” community in La Courneuve is representative of the multicultural origins of its inhabitants. Bolstered by successive or simultaneous influxes of immigrants, this cosmopolitan area was already home to over 20 different nationalities in the 1920s! The Tourist Information Centre organises regular visits to the various communities, so take a look at the events planner.