Paris, late October
In the Faubourg St.-Antoine quartier near the Bastille (12th arrondissement, eastern side of Paris), you can see pleasure boats at Port de Plaisance, then walk a few minutes from there to Avenue Daumesnil and these unique urban spaces. One is at ground level, the other an elevated walkway and garden
I wasn’t expecting starving painters selling their wares on the cheap, but after reading for some years about artists’ studios here, I was surprised to find such upscale and pricey designer shops in the Viaduct arches. The original Paris viaduct was built in 1859 to link trains from Paris to the eastern suburbs. In the mid-1990’s, the arches were filled in with 50 artists’ studios and shops. Most are highly specialised, like Guillet, which makes silk floral art for Parisian theatres and fashion houses. Some of the shops seemed a bit OTT (over the top) to me, but we enjoyed walking and window-shopping. We especially admired this creative use of urban space, and thought how wonderful it would be if other cities did something similar with structures that are no longer in use.
Promenade Plantée, an Elevated Walkway
If the transformed viaduct isn’t ingenious enough, there’s more to be found one level up from the street. At the end of the Viaduct’s artisan shops, we climbed steps to a narrow planted walkway, the Promenade Plantée. The Promenade is 4.5km long and goes all the way to Bois de Vincennes, east of Paris. We simply walked back towards Place de la Bastille, on top of the Viaduct des Arts.
The Promenade is planted with many different varieties of flowers and trees, and in some parts you walk very close to apartment buildings beside the pathway. There were a few joggers out, but it was mostly people walking and enjoying the greenery one level up from the street. It’s an imaginative use of the space above the viaduct, and we thought it was a fun way to have a walk that’s a bit out of the ordinary, even in Paris.
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