Springtime in Paris

29 Mar

Today, some snaps from a weekend in Paris, which I took a couple of weeks ago but haven’t had a chance to put up  – this long weekend is lovely but it has made this week rather busy. It was a Eurostar trip: we caught the train after work one Friday and were back in London by Sunday evening. I’ve called this post Springtime in Paris in an attempt at English irony: there was no spring. Well, not much anyway.

We’ve started thinking of these city breaks as inspiration trips. Expect this sounds rather pretentious but the rule is that there’s no pressure to see any of the sights: it is enough simply to hear a different tongue and wander by  (to say flaneur here really would make this seem pretentious). The change of scenery is enough.

Something from St Germain first. We stopped for a small market, those macaroons, handcream, which, I noticed yesterday, is also favoured by Jane Cumberbatch , plimsolls for the three days of summer we’ll have later in the year, and lots of window shopping and pressing of the nose against the glass of galleries and antiques dealerships.

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Then a bike ride along the Seine on one of Paris’ brilliant dual-carriageway cycle paths. I’m not a great cyclist and so was pleased to have got by with only one potential encounter with a Citroen. ‘You nearly went splat,’ my fella said. He can so alarmist. The car was miles away. Truly.

Along then, to the Promenade Plantee. New Yorkers may like to think they’re awfully smart on elevated parks and redundant railway lines with their Highline – I’ve blogged about it here in the past – but the Promenade Plantee pre-dates it by a long way, having been designed in the eighties and early nineties as part of a larger regeneration programme around the Bastille. The original railway line is reported to have operated between 1859 and 1969.

While the Highline is all soft, informal planting from Piet Oudolf, it stuck me that this was a very Parisian arrangement and also of its time: symmetrical and clipped with trained roses and reflective pools.

With this winter dragging on, the surrounding buildings were beautifully stark. We were the same height as the branches of the trees.

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I loved the facades of these buildings, which you just wouldn’t notice if you were on the ground 10 metres below or if the trees were in leaf.

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French shutters.

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And some of 80s architecture. I liked the contrast between the old buildings and these new blocks. It felt a little like London’s East End – isn’t there an elevated railway line around Bethnal Green which could benefit from a similar treatment?

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About the only sign of spring.

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A little Parisian insouciance.

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Guardian at the Pont du Caroussel on the river, near the Tuilleries.

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Final shot, near Gare du Nord and a nice, safe distance from the crowds heading up to the Sacre Coeur.

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One Response to “Springtime in Paris”

  1. mh April 5, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

    That shot of Le Sacre Coeur is lovely. Don’t you love to look up at rooftops and gables? They tend to go unnoticed in big cities, but there’s so much detail up there.

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