The Bercy

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The Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy (POPB) or simply the Bercy, as the locals call it, is an indoor arena that has hosted countless sporting events, concerts, spectacles, and other forms of entertainment since its construction in 1984.

The Bercy, with its unmistakable grass-covered façade, was designed by a select group of French architects, consisting of Andrault-Parat, Jean Prouvé, and Guvan.  The venue, which can hold between 7,000 to 17,000 people, depending on the type of event, annually hosts the world’s most prestigious indoor tennis tournament, the Paris Masters ATP Tour, in addition to a myriad of other sporting events, such as boxing, gymnastics, track cycling, basketball, and show jumping.

Most notably, the Bercy hosted the FIBA European Championships Final Fours in 1991 and 1996, and the European Basketball Championship in 1999, as well as the European Gymnastics Championship in 2000.

The Bercy has also been the favorite location for A-list artists and bands performing in Paris, including Madonna, Beyonce, Shakira, Céline Dion, R.E.M., The Smashing Pumpkins, Gwen Stefani, Björk, Mariah Carey, P!nk, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Cher, The Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, Guns N’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Coldplay.

When I was last in Paris, I stayed right next door to the POPB at the Novotel Paris Gare De Lyon and was serenaded at one in the morning by enthusiastic, drunk fans. When I left my hotel later that morning, I walked over the remains of the prior night’s party: a sea of discarded fliers.  There was something eerie about the scene, as though the entire world had left the earth in a rush and had forgotten to inform me of the departure.

I took advantage of the area’s desertedness and the early morning light to inspect the building further and was impressed that the designers had been able to conjure such a mountainous effect from such a typically sized arena, an effect that was only further exaggerated by the reflecting pond in front of the stadium and the roof’s steel supports. The design reminded me of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and was enough to make me wish I had bought tickets to the concert the night before so I could have seen the inside.

 

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~ by Benjamin Wey on July 7, 2008.

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