Perhaps it was the fabulous dinner Matt and I had at Le Pamphlet in the Marais yesterday, or maybe it was that I had gone out and purchased some coffee and thus had my dose of morning caffeine, but when Caroline, Tommy, Teddy, and I set forth this morning we were a jolly group and I was no longer the martinet mommy. It was a warm but perfect day–cloudless and dry. We were ready for a good long explore in a part of Paris I haven’t seen much of.
And we got one. The Promenade Plantée is an old railroad line that has been made into a 3-mile long walking path planted all along the way with community gardens. It starts at Place de la Bastille in the 11th arrondissement and goes to the edge of the city. Everything about this path is enchanting for child and adult alike. The first part runs along the top of a viaduct, well above street level, so that while you stroll along through roses and hollyhocks you can also see the tops of buildings and gaze down with a giant’s eye view into the streets below.
About halfway along there is a large green park with a pelouse (lawn) that is not interdit (forbidden to walk on) as so many are here, which means it was full of toddlers and sunbathers. There was also a small playground and after a good tear around and a snack, we continued through a series of tunnels, one of which was lined with fountains that were designed to look like grottoes with water tumbling over “rocks.” The path here was an urban woods, a bit wilder and more overgrown although full of hydrangeas that must be lovely later in the summer.
I wasn’t sure if we would make it to the end, but we did with Teddy asleep in his stroller and Tommy bright as a penny and wanting to try and see the zoo in the Bois de Vincennes. Unfortunately when we arrived at the entrance my book suggested, it was closed, but he remained a good sport even as we tromped probably close to another mile around Lac Daumesnil. He and Caroline played Twenty Questions (always an interesting game with him, as he likes to use geography as a theme and isn’t always totally sure of his definitions or locations) while she and I periodically exchanged comments on the women out strolling in the dust wearing stiletto heels.
(Female footwear in France is a topic about which I could write an entire separate blog. I won’t.)
I know I just wrote about perspective, and today definitely reminded me that sometimes when travel planning that does not involve only one’s own interests and desires can lead to some pretty great discoveries. This was something I enjoyed utterly and never would have done if I hadn’t been looking for activities I thought the boys would like. I got to see a part of Paris I had never explored before, to get some exercise and work off all those croissants I’ve been eating, and to enjoy a perfect summer day in the city basically for free–minus the cost of the jambon et fromage sandwiches we purchased from the little snack bar and devoured on the grass while French children played soccer and hide and seek all around us.
Matt took our camera to work with him, so I have no pictures of our adventure. I now have to download 50 pictures of 18th-century French documents.
Photo of the Promenade Plantée courtesy of eldan via Flickr
Photo of the park courtesy of nein09 via Flickr
Please see Paris in its proper order if you’re interested in a chronological list of posts from my family’s July 2008 trip to Paris.