Fighting isolation: a house which is open to all

The La Maison Ouverte association in Paris, has created a facility for "exchange and creation" where the young and not so young can work together on all kinds of activities.

Social and Employment

14th arrondissement, Paris, France

Éric Vandemeulebroucke

50,000 € over two years to the Selection Committee at 2004/09/28

Project leader

La Maison Ouverte


There is nothing more disheartening for a retired person than feeling that you have been "filed" in the box labelled "elderly". They may be treated with a certain deference, it is true, but only within specific circuits cut off from other generations. To offer an alternative to this kind of social isolation, the La Maison Ouverte association opened a pilot centre in June 2003 in Paris where the elderly can take part in all kinds of activities, alone or accompanied by their grandchildren or younger friends, for an annual fee of 20 euros.

At La Maison Ouverte in the 14th arrondissement of Paris (currently set up in the Broussais hospital), members can take part in lectures, workshops on art, singing, computer skills, yoga or tai chi. And although certain workshops are reserved for the elderly (sophrology, nutrition, dance, etc.) others need a mix of generations to work. This is true of the storytelling sessions on Wednesday afternoons and drawing classes given by young designers from a nearby school of applied arts which allow different generations to exchange viewpoints. The bar, which is open to all, provides a chance to get together around a coffee. One of life's little pleasures which some elderly people no longer dare to enjoy alone.
Already supported by the ministry of social affairs, the Paris city hall, the public welfare agency and numerous other institutions, La Maison Ouverte approached the Veolia foundation with a view to extending its scope of activity. The 50 000 euros in funding granted will enable a transport service to be set up for people with reduced mobility. That way, no-one will be excluded from this vibrant place of personal fulfilment and exchange.

Progress report

Coming shortly, new premises

In three years, La Maison Ouverte has achieved its objective: it is solidly established in the lives of many persons, who come here seeking the pleasures of community life which they no longer enjoy at home. The "request" transportation system for handicapped persons is frequently solicited, demonstrating, if need be, its importance in helping certain persons to emerge from their isolation.

La Maison Ouverte therefore plans a new project: installed for the time being in the heart of the Broussais Hospital (and therefore at some distance from the street life and the neighborhood attractions), it wants to enhance its visibility. In the course of 2007, the association is accordingly looking for new premises with a "sign on the street".