Call Me Magellan

Yesterday in 3 hours I circumnavigated Paris.  Why?  Because it’s there.  You can do this on the boulevarde peripherique in a car.  But I am without car and wouldn’t rent one just for this.  Nope.  Public above ground transportation. (um did I really have to clarify above ground?  What would be the bother in circumnavigating through the metro?)

Really, why?  Because there is a tram system now – not totally finished but some day it will be.  It was a cold but sunny day and I leapt off the couch at noon knowing I had a small window before the rain.  My timing was excellent.  It was colder, windy and very overcast when I got back.

What did I see?  A whole host of new neighborhoods to the east.  And the north, which I knew slightly.  The 17th arrondissement is interesting – you know that Paris is split up into arrondissements?  Sections? Neighborhoods?  Little municipalities within the city of Paris.  Each have their own mairie – city hall – and mayor.  Some are exclusive!

The 6th, 7th, and 16th are especially ritzy.  And the 17th has its very nice and not so nice parts.  Interesting to see the transition.  The 17th butts up to the 18th (it’s a numeric thing) at Porte de Clignancourt – site of a well-known flea market.  Lots of graffiti.  Then I changed the bus for the tram.  Smart idea.  Trams are faster and more dependable than the bus.  And very busy.  Even on a Sunday, loads of people were out and about.  It was afternoon so we saw not the marche itself, but it’s leavings – ice melting on the sidewalk, empty fruit boxes, the pipes and coverings protecting nothing.

In the 19th arrondissement, the tram is on the back side of the hills.  This is an area on my list – les buttes – supposed to have some of the best views of Paris.  Then down to the south east and Vincennes, home of one of my favorite donjons.  And crossed the Seine to the south of Paris.  There is a huge organization there.  I had seen its name on the maps but had no idea of how extensive it was.  Cite International universitaire de Paris.  I am still not sure if it is actually a university or a foundation or dorms by country.  Dorms, I think.   Then we passed by Porte de Versailles with its massive exposition halls.  (Remember le Foire de Paris from May?)  Everything was a Porte.  Makes sense – these places were where people entered through the gates in to Paris itself.  Not many walls remain – there are remnants of the wall of Phillippe Auguste from the 1100s, and at least two giant arches built in the 16702 near Strasbourg and St Denis in the 3rd arrondissement, located at a side of the Wall of Charles V built in the 1380s.  It was replaced in the 1640s by the wall of Louis XIII then destroyed in 1670 or so.  Now, just simple roads – and metro and tram stops.

The tram ends just east of the Seine and I jumped back on PC1 bus to home, weaving our way through the tree lined streets of the tres chic 16th arrondissement.

I didn’t get much walking done.  After over 6 miles a day in London, I have been trying to maintain.


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