Sunday, 2 December 2012

Promenading high among the plants in Paris


At 10 metres above the ground, maybe 10 metres wide, nearly 5 kilometres long, and packed with trees, shrubs and views of Parisian streets, the Promenade plantée is a trend setter and worth a look next time you are in town. OK, so it's ranked 180th in Lonely Planet's list of 1524 things to do in Paris, but then this is about my fifth visit to Paris and I like plants.

For twenty years this linear park has (more or less) connected the Place de la Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes. In fact it doesn't quite make it to either landmark but at 4.7 kilometres long it's fair bit of parkland. And remember this is all on a raised platform so this is a very long, thin, roof garden.

For some reason I had never twigged (sorry) to this being in Paris. I had read about these linear parks but had for some reason assumed they were all in the USA; aside from Cheonggyecheon, the brilliantly restored 8.4 kilometre stream in Seoul in South Korea that opened in 2005. Well, the trend started here, in Paris.


The first stage of New York's more famous High Line (at a more measured 2.7 kilometres long) was opened in 2010, and there are plans for similar linear parks in Chicago and Philadelphia. But Promenade plantée, also known as Coulée verte (the green streak) was completed way back in 1993, transforming part of the Vincennes railway line into a path to walk, run or scooter along while you take time to smell the flowers or, unusually for Paris, listen to the birds.


Underneath it is a mix of expensive art studios (Viaduc des Arts; my red framed window picture below is a deep and meaningful riff on work, love and life as the driving forces for man, women and artist respectively - or so Lynda says), a large electrical goods store going in liquidation, and a restaurant (Café Jardin l'Arrosoir) which I recommend for tagine and coffee!



Up at the old railway level, the landscape changes as you promenade. One particularly dramatic section cuts through the Jardin de Reuilly, a garden planted around the same time as the linear park. It's a busy mix of concrete, terraced gardens and emerald green manicured lawns. 


And they are doing all the right things, such as minimising the use of potable water, and putting up pretty signs saying they are doing just that. 


Nearby the Promenade makes one of its more dramatic interventions through the built Parisian landscape.


So yes Lynda and I are spending a weekend in Paris, staying in the 10th arrondissement for the first time. We shuttled over on the Eurostar and walked to our apartment in Rue de Paradis. It isn't exactly paradis but definitely a convenient place to explore this part of town (including the tempting food in Rue du Faubourg St Denis and further south, Rue Montorguel). Now, what's 181 on that Lonely Planet list?

[And that restored steam in Seoul? Here's a photo I took in 2008.]

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