Saturday, April 28, 2012

We Defy the Elements

Not gonna lie, the weather's been crappy and the forecast offers little hope for improvement. Today dawned gray and gloomy with the threat of rain, but we decided to do a couple of things we'd been saving for "better weather."

Promenade Plantée

The first was to walk the Promenade Plantée. When they built the new Opera on the Place de la Bastille, they got the land to do it by razing a railroad depot. Trains had come into the depot from the southeast by an elevated viaduct. Rather than tear this down, they had the brilliant idea of making the top of it into a skinny, two-kilometer park, with lots of plants and a wide paved path down the middle.

Doesn't look like 20 feet above the street, does it?

Apartments are built right up to it, some incorporating parts of old warehouses.

Newer buildings work around it.

You look over the edge at older streets around the Gare du Nord

The Rough Guide alerted us to watch for the unusual building decoration around the top of this police station.

The linear garden is planted with a great variety of stuff, some coming into bloom.

Unknown bush.

Another unknown.

Very pretty bed. Click through to appreciate.

At the end, the viaduct comes to earth over a dramatic bridge.

The people down below were setting up a fashion shoot.

Viaduc des Artes

The brick arches of the old viaduct were converted into shop space and are now occupied by the very trendiest of the trendy. This provided the best window shopping so far as we walked back to the Place de la Bastille at street level.

See the plants on top?

Here are a few of the outrageously trendy things we saw—not including the €1100 lampshade made of feathers.

The things in this window were just indescribable. But pretty. (Click to see)

Made-to-order custom-designed umbrellas.

Beaded chicken, anyone?

Crystal chandelier for a child's room?

Embroidery store—Marian bought a lovely pair of embroidery scissors.

Lunch Break

Back at the Place de la Bastille we bought ourselves gauffres for lunch. "Gauffre" (rhymes with Oprah, more or less) means waffle, and they are available from street vendors near any tourist area. And delicious.

Biting into a gauffre avec Grand Marnier et sucre.

Parc André Citroën

The description of Parc André Citroën in the guidebook had us eager to see it. The Wikipedia entry doesn't do it justice but gives an idea. It's something different in the way of parks for sure.

This park is at the diagonally opposite corner of the map from the Promenade Plantée, but we hopped into the Metro at the Bastille and came out at the other end half an hour later without even changing trains. Alas, we came up from underground to find it was raining steadily on this side of Paris.

The park has many somewhat precious design features: sunken gardens and hidden ones; including some that, apparently, we never found, the steady rain making us somewhat impatient with exploring.

In the center are two huge and architecturally impressive glass houses supposedly housing exotic plants.

Thank you, lady with the red umbrella, for accenting our picture.

Unfortunately the glass houses were locked, as was the only public WC in the park. Sadly, there were many signs of neglect and decay: missing stones and tiles, broken windows, unkempt planting beds, empty ponds.

Pont Mirabeau

Having come into the park from the south, we exited at the north end and walked alongside the Seine looking for the Metro station to take us home. This led us to the Mirabeau bridge, which was something of a treat.

From the Mirabeau bridge we could see, at the end of the Allée des Cygnes, an island in the middle of the river, a replica of the Statue of Liberty. A fitting end to a wet day.

We rode back across 3/4 of the city on the metro. Stopped on Rue Mouffetard where we bought asparagus, strawberries and some roasted potatoes to supplement the roasted chicken left over from Thursday night and had ourselves a feast at home.

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