First off, I know it's Wednesday, not Tuesday, but I'm a bit late in my post because of my family being in town on vacation! So rather than skip this week's Travel Tuesday, I decided to just post it a day late. Sorry! We had a great visit and thanks to all that wished us well. All is back to normal here and things will resume as scheduled! Okay, carry on...
You might have heard of the High Line in New York City, and you might have heard of other cities that have started renovating old train lines into parks, but have you ever seen or visited the original? Opened in 1993, the Promenade Plantée as the English speaking world calls it, or the Coulée Verte as the French say, is a winding sprawl from the east side of Paris center to the edge of town near the Bois de Vincennes. If you've seen Before Sunset with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, then you've seen it on the big screen.
The Coulée Verte starts just behind the Opera Bastille and the beginning is easy to miss. In fact, on our first trip to Paris many years ago, we thought we had found it, but really it was some other green path that was much shorter. When walking along the sidewalk, look for some cute boutiques that have arched windows. Then look up. Those arched windows are actually the underside of the bridge that is the beginning of the path. Climb the stairs and head to the start of the 2.9 mile path.
The first part of the path is a well groomed and paved path that is at tree level along the streets of the east side of Paris. Not only is it gorgeous to look at and beautifully landscaped with tons of blooming flowers, but it removes you from the cars and traffic of the streets, leaving you with the best part of the city to look at, on eye level. You can see the tops of trees, the sky, and the upper levels of all the buildings passing by, which put you face to face with all the beautiful architecture of those quintessentially Parisian buildings.
After some time of this kind of landscape, it opens up into a large park, the Jardin de Reuilly, with a bridge to cross over. This is a perfect moment to stop and enjoy that picnic that you brought and lounge for a bit. Having access to the grass is a rare treat in Paris, as many of the parks are off limits for picnicking, or walking or sitting for that matter. But this one is ideal for sunbathing and beyond, as you can see here on the gorgeous sunny day that we were passing through.
There are spots along the path that seem like you've lost your way, as you'll be on the sidewalk, but don't worry, just keep going and follow the other people and before you know it you will wind through forest areas, meander under bridges, and be eventually let out back onto the streets of Paris, just before the Bois de Vincennes. Here again, you can take a rest, have a snack, row a boat if you like, then turn around and walk it back! Or at least, that's what we did!
2.9 miles might seem long, but honestly it is so lovely and fun, the path goes really quickly and before you know it you've walked there and back, making it the prettiest 6 miles you've ever walked! Since discovering the Coulée Verte, we've been back on each trip, making it a bit of a tradition that I highly recommend for you to try as well!
Have any of you done this walk before? What were your experiences? I was surprised to see so many dark wooded corners in the middle of the city! Do tell your adventures!
All photos taken by me.