Just in time for the warmer weather, I found Paris’ version of the New York City, hi-line. Le Viaduc des Arts – Promenade Plantée is a walking, jogging, biking path which traverses the 11th and 12th arrondissements in Paris.
The project was a rehabilitation effort started in 1983 from an obsolete railway line. The former train line went through Vincennes (eastern Paris) and linked to Place de Bastille. The line was abandoned when the RER A was created. The old railway terminal was demolished and re-emerged as the Bastille Opera house.
The path starts very close to my apartment in the 11eme and stretches for about 2 miles. It begins at 44-46 Rue de Lyon where inconspicuous steps lead from street level to enter the park. The steps from the street create a portal of sorts, an instantaneous escape from the city to greenery and a new perspective on the streets below.
This is the raised portion of the railway line and it has been planted and meticulously cared for over the years. The flowers and trees are not as formal as Jardin de Luxembourg or even Le Jardin des Plantes. It is beautiful all the same and reminds me of the New York hi-line.
Eventually the line crosses a park by way of a suspension bridge and meets the street level in the garden of Reuilly. At this point, roughly a mile into the park, the path remains at ground level and goes through a few short train tunnels. The tunnels are wide, paved and well lit. Their openings provide a unique frame for the vegetation and trail discovery ahead.
The viaduct ends in a small park, Square Charles Péguy. This is where I double back and walk the path with a new view. As with the other public gardens in Paris, there are gardeners and crews maintaining the vegetation and keep in the park in top shape. They are all friendly individuals and will readily stop to have a conversation or tell you what type of tree or flower you are viewing. I enjoy these interactions and have decided these folks are happily employed. They could be just basking in re-emergence of Spring (while getting some needed vitamin D), but I think not. I think they truly love what they do in these gardens.