Paris, late October
We’re at the approximate midpoint of an epic three-month family trip. As one of many global and blended families in the world today, we’re happy about seeing family and friends in England and the U.S., while simultaneously missing our Australian family and home in Sydney.
I think everyone knows how stressful it can be at times like this, when you’re running around trying to see everyone and do everything. So we planned 2 weeks in the middle just for us, the first in Scotland, the second here in Paris.
Free? Mais Oui
As with any great city, there’s so much to do that’s free, and walking almost anywhere in Paris is a joy for me. We want to slow our pace a little before returning to the United States, and thought we’d explore some places that are new to us and a bit off the usual tourist track.
If you like walking, parks, and gardens, Parc Buttes-Chaumont in the 19th arrondissement (northeast Paris) is an excellent destination, with 5km of paved walkways winding up and down gentle hills. It’s such a great feeling — the best of both worlds — to walk through this peaceful, green space and glimpse Parisian apartment buildings and wrought-iron balconies through the trees.
Buttes Chaumont was the brainchild of Napoleon III and developed by Baron Haussman in the mid-1800’s. It has a lot to see, much of which is man-made and struck us as slightly odd. There’s a lake, suspension bridge, a monument or folly at the highest point (with nice views of Paris), and a grotto whose towering size I found rather weird. Throughout the park there are handrails, fences, and steps that appear to be wood but, as Clive discovered, are actually concrete, complete with knots and grains and streaks that look for all the world like the real thing. The level of detail is amazing. We thought it was all quite clever, and must have taken years to do.
Here’s a close-up of the concrete fence:
Buttes Chaumont is quite a contrast to the wild, untouched areas of Scotland we were visiting last week, so maybe that’s why it felt a little strange. This park is definitely a place that blends natural and man-made features in a unique way.
Apparently the park also has four Wi Fi zones, as part of Paris’s citywide wireless access program. We didn’t take a laptop along, but I highly recommend bringing a small thermos of coffee, sitting on a bench, and doing nothing more than holding your partner’s hand and relaxing in a place that’s lovely in its own right and better yet, is surrounded by Paris.
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