Tuesday 28 September 2010
In Paris & Paris to Bath

I had the morning and early afternoon in Paris. I was booked on the 15:13 Eurostar service to London so spent the morning walking around parts of Paris I hadn't previously visited.

I was up fairly early for breakfast at my hotel. It was a bit thin but adequate enough. Just after 9am I set off, initially in the direction of Gare de Lyon. I was heading for Promenade Plantée, the green walking route in the heart of Paris. It is route about 4km long from Bastille out to the boulevard périphérique orbital road. It follows the route of la ligne de Vincennes, the Chemins de fer de l'Est's 54.1km route from Verneuil-L'Étang (on the Paris Est - Mulhouse mainline) to Paris Gare de Bastille. Just beyond the end of Promenade Plantée the line disappeared into a tunnel the other side of which was Sainte-Mandé station. It is at this point the railway still exists. In 1969 the section to Bastille was shut with the opening of the first RER line - line A. It goes underground here heading for the other side of Paris. Some parts of the line remained in use until 1984. At Bel-Air there was a junction with the Paris inner orbital railway la Petite Ceinture. Freight traffic continued to use the section towards Bastille, as far as the large good depot at Reuilly, after 1969. Despite very healthy traffic redevelopment was forced on the line closing it down. Anyone now visiting Reuilly would be hard pushed to know there was once a railway here, let alone a large yard next to a passenger station - only the station building now survives. At Bastille the station also survived into the mid 1980s when it, and a part of Viaduc Daumesnil which carried the line in above street level from Reuilly, was demolished and replaced by the modern Bastille Opera House. This left around 1km of viaduct with no use and a cutting with a number of tunnels out from Reuilly towards Sainte-Mandé. Development of Promenade Plantée started in 1987 and was finished in 2000. Since then it has become a very popular green walkway through Paris. Many of the arches of Viaduc Daumesnil have been turned into shops, generally of an artistic nature. The conversion project seems to have been a great success all round. The route and its many specially planted trees, shrubs, flowers and so on are well tended by city workers whose presence also acts as a a bit of security deterring crime.

Once in front of Gare de Lyon I turned left until I reached the Avenue Daumesnil which runs alongside Viaduc Daumesnil. I followed this road up to Bastille to see where the station used to be before heading back to the end of the viaduct and up the steps onto Promenade Plantée. As my photographs show I then walked the route to Reuilly and on to the very end at the boulevard périphérique. From here I doubled back as far as Bel-Air. I had initially got confused here on my walk out from the centre as the signage was not good and due to the change in levels, with the removal of an embankment, I had initially gone the wrong way. Back at Bel-Air I continued down the way I had gone. I hadn't expected to find a railway junction (inadequate research!) so wanted to see where this walkway went. I was pleased to find it took me right up to la Petite Ceinture. Here it becomes a dead end forcing me to double back. La Petite Ceinture is no longer in use but, for now, the rails remain whilst an alternative use is found for this line.


To see my photographs of Promenade Plantée please click here.

This book "Paris La ligne de Vincennes" by Didier Leroy is highly recommended. Whilst short on maps it contains a large number of high quality colour and black and white photographs of the line.
Paris La Ligne de Vincennes
Promenade Plantée - 28 September 2010
More information on la ligne de Vincennes and related lines can be found on these websites:
La Ligne de Vincennes Un voyage de Paris-Bastille à Marles en Brie
Petite Ceinture
Ajecta Blog
La Ligne de Vincennes
Un voyage de Paris-Bastille à Marles en Brie
Goods at Reuilly in 1985

Gare de Bastille

FACS Special 23 March 1969

Nogent Depot

My next part of my plan for the day was to head to a fromagerie and purchase a pile of French cheeses. I had done some research beforehand and discovered a highly recommended fromagier in the 12th arrondissement just a short walk from Promenade Plantée. From Reuilly I walked down to 229 Rue de Charenton where I found the excellent Fromagerie Lefèbvre (see this page, scroll down to 12th arrondissement. Totally in French (!) I managed to come away with some lovely cheeses. One, the Brie de Meaux, could be smelt from inside my bag well before I got back to the UK!

Le Gaslonde - Camembert
Two of the excellent selection of cheeses I bought, on the left Le Gaslonde Camembert and on the right something a bit more specialist - Pélardon, a goats cheese from the Cévennes.

Very happy with my cheeses and a few packets of very artistic chocolates I had bought a few doors down from the fromagerie I found myself with just over an hour to fill before I need to set off for Paris Nord. So I walked back toward Gare de Lyon up the streets running parallel to the railway lines. I had hoped I might catch a glimpse of the old roundhouse at Le Charolais depot but the surrounding walls were too high. I also ended up back on Avenue Daumesnil enabling me to see some more bits of the Viaduc Daumesnil where it still exists but is no longer obviously a viaduct.

As it was getting near to lunchtime I popped into a bakers to buy some tempting looking bits and pieces which turned out to be really lovely! A quick look at a map then suggested my next destination. Not very far across the Seine from Gare de Lyon is the former Chemin de Fer de Paris à Orléans' Austerlitz station. Having never visited it before I decided to take walk. I was glad I did but disappointed to find Austerlitz has been overrun by shops with the platforms cut right back. They now only just make it under the imposing train shed. At least the platforms beyond the train shed do have canopies but for those in coaches at the country end of a train it makes for a long walk if coming from the metro which is at the city end of the station and now the other side of the shops. I took a handful of photos walking out to and whilst at Austerlitz. Click here to see them.

Parisien Photos - 28 September 2010

From Austerlitz I took a different route back across the Seine and towards my hotel to pick up my bags. From then on it was fairly straightforward and familiar. From Paris Lyon I took RER line D to Paris Nord for the 15:13 Eurostar to London. Unlike my previous trip (in June) no sensibly priced 1st class tickets were available so I travelled back in standard class. The journey was uneventful, as was the run back to Bath from London Paddington. Once at Bath station I took the short walk back to my car, which I was glad to find was still there and in one piece! It was then just a short drive home and to thoughts of my next trip.

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