La promenade plantée: the first green space of this kind
The ‘Promenade Plantée’ in Paris, also known under the name of ‘La Coulée Verte’, was created in 1988 and is the first green space of this kind: A way of 4,5kms with a lot of plants, a walking path and a bicycle path on part of it was built on a former railway which was unused since 1969. No doubt that the designers of the Highline in New York (opened in 2009) drew their inspiration from it!
This pedestrian-friendly path runs most of the time above or under the street level through the 12th arrondissement of Paris. It starts behind the Opéra Bastille at the crossroads between the Rue de Lyon and the Avenue Daumesnil and ends at the entrance of the Bois de Vincennes. Several accesses have been built along the path so that one can have a walk on it in whole or in part.
I went for the whole walk from the Bastille to the Jardin Charles Péguy: it takes less than one hour and a half and is really worth it! The unusual views on the city and its buildings that one can see while walking on the Viaduc des Arts, ten meters above the street level, are unique! So are the freshness and the quietness of this space: one can enjoy the smell of the flowers (many rosebushes at that time of the year), the song of the birds… and forget for a while the bubbling city yet so close.
I really recommend to go for this walk on a weekday: you will only bump into few pedestrians and some joggers while the weekends are much more crowded. Let’s start our green walk!
Le viaduc des Arts: a green walk above the city
I started my walk Place de la Bastille and walked along the Opéra on its right side in the rue de Lyon towards the crossroads with the Avenue Daumesnil. There, on the left side, a flight of stairs permits to climb onto the Viaduc des Arts at the entrance of the Promenade Plantée.
The atmosphere changes immediately: One enter a green space above the city…
Here and there the views on the city and its buildings are amazing!
Some recent buildings were built to let the path go through them…
There are flowers-mainly rosebushes at that time of the year- all along the path!
The freshness of the air is emphasized by the presence of water.
Ten meters below, the city streets…
Le jardin de Reuilly: view from its cable-stayed footbridge
After walking less than half an hour, stopping from time to time to take pictures, I got to the end of the Viaduc des Arts. There the path becomes wider and the city seems closer.
One has reached the Jardin de Reuilly which lies at the street level at the crossroads between the Avenue Daumesnil and the Rue de Charenton and offers a beautiful vast lawn. The Promenade Plantée continues above the Jardin de Reuilly: the Passerelle de Reuilly permits to get over the lawn. This cable-stayed footbridge was built in 1992 and is really very aesthetic. And do not be surprised or seasick: the footbridge moves up and down with the strides of the joggers!
The Jardin de Reuilly down there is the third largest green space in 12th arrondissement of Paris right behind the Bois de Vincennes and the Parc de Bercy.
L’allée Vivaldi: Back to the street level
At the end of the footbridge the Promenade plantée continues through the city and is now open to bicycles as well offering two different paths, one for pedestrians and one for cyclists. The Allée Vivaldi is a wide street lined by harmonious white modern buildings.
La Coulée Verte: trenches and tunnels… but so green
After this short crossing inside the city and at the street level, the Promenade goes on in a completely different atmosphere. It is in this second part of the walk that one can make sense of the other name given to the Promenade: the ‘Coulée verte’. Indeed one is now walking or cycling under earth in trenches offering alternately paths in the middle of the trees and brightly lit tunnels. But the beginning of it is not very appealing: a dimly lit and rather long tunnel, the Tunnel de Reuilly! I was happy there to meet other walkers or joggers…
Then a succession of trenches in the middle of trees, offering greenery and freshness…
… and brightly lit and rather green tunnels!
There is even a fitness trail!
Le Jardin Charles Péguy: civilization again!
The path leads into the Rue du Sahel… back to earth and to the city life. At the end of this street a flight of stairs permits to continue the walk on the Promenade plantée and to reach the Jardin Charles Péguy: a pleasant garden where to have a rest fitted out with many areas for kids and offering beautiful trees and plants.
La Petite Ceinture: A pleasant way to end the walk!
At the other end of the Jardin Charles Peguy (behind the table-tennis tables) a path continues to the ‘Petite Ceinture’ which is a quiet space given back to nature where one can find a community garden and a nature trail. And not to be missed: the views on the unused railway, whose name was: ‘la Petite Ceinture’ as it used to go around Paris as a belt. It is now a green corridor for many species between the city and its outside. Green and unusual, just like our whole walk: a very pleasant way to end it!
Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris B&B – www.goodmorningparis.fr
Practical information (in French): Coulée Verte René Dumont