Værnedamsvej: Copenhagen’s “Little Paris”

Urban spaces

Værnedamsvej 2
Maria Sattrup CMC
 

Værnedamsvej is abuzz with life. Copenhageners hang out, shop, snack on croque madame and sip wine.

Værnedamsvej is the coziest street in Copenhagen. And it’s not just a pretty scene, it’s a genuine shopping street alive with the spirit of Paris. Here you’ll find a fishmonger, a butcher, a flower shop and a cheese shop. There are French cafés, wine bars, coffee bars and delicatessens. And there is the popular restaurant Granola, where baby carriages line up outside during the day and urban families meet in the evenings for talks and DJ sets. Leading design brands have also recognized the merits of Værnedamsvej. For example, luxury soap brand Aesop has moved in, and popular Danish fashion brands like Ganni, Mads Nørgaard and Soulland can be found just around the corner.  

We Want Chaos

Værnedamsvej is divided down the middle between two cities: Copenhagen and Frederiksberg. Every day around 2,000 cars traveling in both directions pass through this narrow street, which is not even a quarter of a mile long. In 2013, the two cities joined forces to present five proposals for reducing traffic on the street and making it more bike and pedestrian friendly. But the local residents and businesses rejected them all. Preferring car exhaust and chaos to shop closures and trivialization. After several years of debate and public hearings, it was decided to leave Værnedamsvej the way it is. Charming and chaotic – only with a bit more space for bike parking. 

Local Darling

The locals got involved again when building plans were revealed for the property that is currently occupied by Prins Henriks Skole, the French school that gave the street the name “Little Paris”. The current buildings are too small for the school, and it will be moving out in 2021. The school’s property was acquired by an American private equity fund that wants to build dense and high. Their original plans included a new hotel and underground parking garage. But no, no, no, was again the response from the local residents. They formed an association called Sustainable Frederiksberg and fought for the existing buildings to be used instead of tearing them down and building something new and bigger. Again, the politicians listened, and a new local plan for the area is currently being developed. 

Facts:

  • The street is named after Werner Dam ─ a German mercenary who opened a pub on the corner of Vesterbrogade in the early 1700s.
  • Throughout the 1800s, the street was known as butchers’ street because of its many butcher’s shops. Today, there is only one butcher left on the street.
  • On a typical weekday – from midnight to midnight – around 6,500 bikes and mopeds pass through Værnedamsvej, as well as nearly 2,000 cars.
  • Værnedamsvej is often highlighted as a must-see site for tourists in Copenhagen – for instance by British The Guardian.

Nearby:

Not far away from Værnedamsvej is Frederiksberg Alle´, arguably Copenhagens most beautiful street. Take a pause at Sankt Thomas Plads or continue along the tree-lined avenue to the new Madkulturenshus by COBE directly adjacent to Frederiksberg Allé metro station. 

If you enjoy theater, then Aveny T and Betty Nansens Theater are highly regarded and recommendable, both are located further down Frederiksberg Allé.

Area

Vesterbro