Sunday, November 15, 2009


Mai Li and I spent the final week of my trip in Paris, where it was averaging 8° or 9° Celsius.  It seems such a short time since I was being scorched by the 40°C Andalusian sun.

We kept warm with plenty of walking.  Paris is made for it.  The famed city planner Baron Haussman laid out broad boulevardes in the 19th century, though not for the enjoyment by the pedestrian masses but rather to suppress them; the narrow medieval bottlenecks they replaced prevented soldiers from effectively responding to the riots which led to the French Revolution.

The Promenade Plantée, a garden footpath slicing through the Bastille elevated on arches, was originally a railway after Napoleon III approved a right of way through the city.  Today it is a favourite spot for locals to jog or stroll.  We walked half of its four-kilometre length.

Another transformed right of way is the Canal Saint-Martin, controlled by a series of locks and once a highway for transporting food and other goods on barges.  It is now used for tourist boats.  A long stretch of it has been enclosed and covered with gardens, and a film on the history of the canal is projected onto the brick walls of the tunnel from the boat.  This and one or two locks are the most interesting; the rest of the two-and-a-half hour trip is frankly a little boring.

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