New Parks on Old Rails
The reclaiming of obsolete train tracks is increasingly popular in European and North American cities. Paris has repurposed two defunct railways to create long strips of urban parks. Both lines were constructed in the mid-19th century, during the Second Empire.
The Promenade Plantée follows three miles of a mid-19th century railway that connected Place de la Bastille with suburbs to the east. The Promenade ends near the Boulevard Périphérique.
Twin bowers at the western entrance:
Where tracks once lay . . .
An elevated portion of the promenade, seen from the grassy Jardin de Reuilly:
Faceoff of Haussmannian facades, viewed from the Promenade:
A common and curious result of urban railways: buildings whose cleanly sliced walls hug the tracks, allowing as much square footage as possible.
Along the promenade, a time-travel tableau — a ramshackle old cart and a few rotting baskets artfully scattered — is exhibited en plein Paris.
In case you need a rest during your urban stroll, a park-within-a-park lies adjacent to the Promenade, complete with nude female sculpture, Wallace Fountain, and pigeon:
Platform from which to view a labyrinth:
Sundial with instructions and the following inscription:
Le soleil luit pour tous (The sun shines for everyone)
The Promenade Plantée is lower than street level in sections. Below, it passes through a tunnel:
Inside the tunnel, a decorative plaque of a mystical cat:
A spiral staircase topped with a futuristic umbrella (mushroom?) punctuates the eastern end of the Promenade Plantée:
La Petite Ceinture
The long-inoperable railway of La Petite Ceinture (the little belt) traces a broad circle around the City of Paris. In its heyday, it carried travelers and merchandise. It also served the Citroën factories (now Parc Citroën) and the slaughterhouses of Vaugirard (now Parc Georges-Brassens).
Since 2007, stretches are being developed as parks, and the landscaping prioritizes the preservation of the railway’s heritage as well as the biodiversity of the corridor that had for decades gone to seed.
Some rails of the defunct La Petite Ceinture remain in place.
The entrance to a developed portion of La Petite Ceinture, accessed from Rue Brancion:
At the top of the stairs is perhaps an old railway station, fallen into disrepair.
Like Promenade Plantée, the Petite Ceinture has its “sliced buildings”:
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