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Old May 26th, 2012, 10:03 PM   #21
600West218
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Thanks for the explanation of what those buildings are!
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Old May 26th, 2012, 10:30 PM   #22
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Day 2 continued

After the Arc de Triomphe I set up to the Eiffle Tower.

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I saw a number of these scooters with two front wheels. Seems like a strange concept to me. I would think they would handle poorly but apparently not.

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I don’t ever get tired of these apartment buildings.

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After going through a couple very bland art museum buildings there it is...

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From this distance it definitely looked nice, but only when I got closer would I truly appreciate how special it is

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I couldn’t figure out what these missile shaped things were. If they were water fountains I never saw them turned on.

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Looking back at one of the mediocre museum buildings. You can see all the “missiles” poised as if they are about to blow up the tower.

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To get to the Eiffel Tower I had to cross over the Seine River. I walked along it to check out some boats.

Again, note how strong the current is. The people who operate boats on this river really earn their money. One mistake and you could easily crash into a bridge.

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Kind of a mini business district in the distance.

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Next I walked right under the tower. In pictures we often only see the top part of it. But in my opinion it is actually the bottom of it that is most interesting. There are four huge steel pillars supporting it and they are truly massive. Yet none of the individual steel beams seems that big - it is a huge amount of interwoven small steel beams that makes up most of the tower.

You know you’ve done a good job of engineering something when you create something that is not only functional but beautiful as well. The Eiffel Tower DEFINITELY falls into that category. Pictures don’t do it justice...

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Note all the steel work that actually looks like a fine tapestry!

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Around the side are names of famous Frenchmen - mainly mathematicians and scientists from what I could see.

The lines to go up it were absurdly long - about 3 hours. So I decided I wouldn’t attempt to go up it today and would come back another day early in the morning.

On the opposite side of it is a huge mall leading to Ecole Militar or the old military academy. I headed down it as that was the way to the military museum.

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Looking towards the Ecole Militar. That tall building behind it is really out of place!

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A multi lingual peace memorial

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This is the best looking police vehicle I had seen thus far. Still not up to British standards though.

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Finally, I found may may through some confusing streets to Invalides. This is a huge complex built under Napolean to house indigent and disabled war veterans. It is now the Army Museum which I was going to visit. In the church part is the tomb of Napolean.

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I got my ticket and quickly headed into the museum.

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A French tank from WW I

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Lots of old cannons around the courtyard.

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Not exactly a small complex, is it?

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Looks like Napolean himself:

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Inside the museum there was a really nice collection of art depicting late 19th Century warefare:

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I am sort of surprised that this was painted and not later destroyed. It certainly make warefare look glorious.

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The rest of the museum was fairly good. Definitely better than the Imperial War Museum of the North in Manchester, but not necessarily world class. The main artifacts they had were light arms and uniforms. No heavy weaponry. So it is worth seeing if you are already in Paris but it shouldn’t be the reason you go to Paris.

Next I headed to the cathederal

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Napoleans tomb.

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Fresh flowers as always.

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I next headed out, hopefully in the direction of the Pantheon. I walked down a huge mall.

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Of course, the mall was lined with sumptious apartment buildings.

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These are public toilets that the city government has put around the city. They were pretty well kept and saved me on a couple of occasions.

It turns out, I wasn’t headed in the right direction and soon realized I was lost. Thankfully, in Paris you can be completely lost and still run into really nice things.

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An elevated metro line. Not much of the metro is elevated but some of it is. There was a map there that I used to get headed back in the right direction.

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A pediatric hospital. I was in too much of a rush to go inside.

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They are building a whole new section to it.

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Not great, but not bad either.

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They even have scooters with tops on them. A BMW no less!!

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Some of the Haussman era apartment buildings were fancier than others. Some even had gates that prevented you from going in.

These were all constructed by the government, and presumably paid for by the government, in the 19th century. Yet they are now all private. I’m not sure how that happened.

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Simply amazing. I guess they have some sort of a courtyard where it widens out? I never did go in one of these buildings.

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Some ambulances being escorted. Better but still not as good as the British ones.

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This was at one end of a park - I think the Luxenburg Park.

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Back out on the city streets I noticed this plaque which seemed to be dedicated to someone who fought to liberate Paris in WW II - maybe a French resistance fighter?

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Nearby I saw this building full of apparent bullet holes. I don’t think there was ever much fighting in Paris proper - again maybe some resistance fighters got in a shoot out with the Germans.

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Nice doors:

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Back in Luxemburg park.

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I believe this is the French Senate building.

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Lots of little radio controlled sailboats on the pond.

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Finally I made it to the Pantheon!!

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Unfortunately it was closing just as I arrived so I couldn’t go in today. Another thing I’d have to come back to.

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Across from the Pantheon

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This was a church right behind the Pantheon that I had been determined to find and visit - I was lucky to just stumble on to it!! The reason I wanted to see it is it is the final resting place of Blaise Pascal.

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Back outside I decided to head back down towards the river and Notre Dame.

On the way I came across the Soborne

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Note the observatory.

This is one of the things that was actually much smaller than I had expected. Instead of having a massive campus to go along with its world renowned reputation it was just one city block, albeit a big city block.

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I kept heading down towards the river through an area with lots of restaraunts and hotels. The Latin Quarter I guess?

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This I passed a number of times thinking it was some kind of court building. Turns out it is an old fortress open to the public. Another thing for a future trip...

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A lot of media was around waiting for the results of the election.

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After crossing the river I headed up to the the Pompiduo Center:

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It sure does stand out

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As it was open to the public without charge I went inside. Looks like an artistic rendition of Occupy Wall Street.

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An interesting looking government building

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Next I happened by a place that had WiFi and found out via a web site that Hollande had won the election and that people gathered in the Bastille to celebrate. I actually changed between the #8 and #1 line at the Bastille so I decided to head to the metro and see if I could find the celebration.

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In the metro again. Even though there aren’t that many people it looks crowded. I’m not thrilled with the design.

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From the Bastille station you could see some sort of canal. Definitely something for future exploration.

Once at the Bastille station I just followed the big and loud crowd walking through the metro and celebrating. They led me out to the real celebration.

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Some cute socialists.

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Some people are just not meant to climb up on street signs. This guys flailig attempts to get up there entertained the crowd for a good while. He ultimately made it.

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I stayed for about 45 minutes but the place was unbearably crowded, they were all drinking and I was afraid there would be problems with the police. Also, it was getting dark and my hosts were expecting me so I headed back out to St. Maurice and enjoyed a relaxing end to a very long and tiring second day.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 12:18 AM   #23
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Oh NOES, the socialists are taking over! Nice series, btw!
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Old May 27th, 2012, 12:37 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 600West218 View Post
I don’t ever get tired of these apartment buildings.

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It is not really important but a lot of Haussmannian buildings are offices.
There are four time more office space in Central Paris than in La Défense.
In many way, it is wrong to say that La Defense is the main business district of Paris.

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This I passed a number of times thinking it was some kind of court building. Turns out it is an old fortress open to the public. Another thing for a future trip...

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It is Paris High Court building but seen from the oposite side that on the previous page.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 01:04 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minato ku View Post
It is not really important but a lot of Haussmannian buildings are offices.
There are four time more office space in Central Paris than in La Défense.
In many way, it is wrong to say that La Defense is the main business district of Paris.
Interesting. Thanks for pointing that out. A question I have is how did all the Haussmnian buildings come into private hands? Weren't they all built by the government.


Quote:
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It is Paris High Court building but seen from the oposite side that on the previous page.
Not the court building that is by the Plaza Concorde building? This one was along the river by Notre Dame.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 05:14 AM   #26
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Day 3 in Paris

Already I was behind is seeing what I wanted to see. Paris was big, things took lots of time to do, and, most importantly, the plain touristy stuff was so good and interesting, that I wasn’t getting to the stuff I normally like to see.

But when travelling you have to roll with the punches as the reality of what places are like will often change the best made plans. And even though I didn’t know it yet, some of the things that I would see in other places would more than make up for what I didn’t see in Paris.

With that said, on the 3rd day in Paris I planned to race to the Eiffel Tower and beat the crowds to get up it. Unfortunately, once again a couple of things conspired against me. The first was that I left St. Maurice later than I should have. The second was that the metro lines that would have gotten me closest to it were closed so I had to go to the Ecole Militar and walk from there.

But at least the sun was out for the first time on my trip:

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Love all that structural steel:

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To stand right below it and look up at it is amazing. New York just really has nothing to compare with this. I’d gladly trade the Empire State Building, the Chrysler building and WTC 1 for this - that is 3 supertalls for the Eiffel Tower. Any takers?

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One evil though did occur to me though. It is rather amazing that the Germans in WWII, in their desperation to get more steel, didn’t tear this thing down to build armaments with it. Maybe Hitler being a wanna be architect couldn’t bring himself to having it torn down?

Anyways, because I got there late there were HUGE lines once again. However, once things were properly organized it turned out that if you only want to walk up to the first two floors there is essentially no line. So I walked.

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Look closely and you can make out the Arch du Triumph.

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Looking back at the Ecole Militar

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Looking towards La Defense

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Here we see a bulk carrying barge going up the Seine. It is a working river.

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A small portion of the absurdly long lines.

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A pretty big mobile crane. I don’t know what the work is that they were doing.

After taking in the view from the Eiffel Tower it was off to catch the metro to La Defense.

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Arriving in La Defense you find yourself in a large underground train station. It is pretty ugly - just like Penn Station in New York.

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But what is above it is anything but ugly.

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Their designs are innovative

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A pretty big arch, no?

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The semi-circular structure is actually a shopping mall.

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Cool, a Parisian High Line!!

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I think they could use a bit more variety in the cladding types. Still, it works.

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Ironically, this is the headquarters of Societe General which I think may be the largest bank in France. I think it has also at times lost money and had to be bailed out. It seems that just like New York the nicer the buildings, the bigger the bailout. :-)

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This is inside the Societe General headquarters. The guards were giving me dirty looks so I left quickly.

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Interestingly La Defense seems to be built around cemeteries as there are cemeteries on both sides of it.

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Next I walked down the elevated walkway.

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This is either the other side of the same cemetery or a different one on the other side of La Defense.

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Well, at least they were trying to be innovative - but they failed, in a 1970s sort of way.

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The old arch as seen from the new arch.

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Sticking out like a sore thumb.

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Total, the big French oil company.

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The police cars are getting better!

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An organic monument of some sort.

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A skyscraper under construction. It is interesting how quickly they begin the cladding. In New York the cladding wouldn’t even begin until the building was two or three times taller than this one is.

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An interesting name if this is indeed the same building - Seize the Day tower??

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This being France they actually have some vineyards!!!

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In this little wedge of a construction site they are building a hotel. So La Defense is definitely growing.

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The metro as it emerges from underground on its route back to central Paris.

Having seen La Defense I headed back into central Paris to go to the Pantheon which I had missed the previous day. That and the rest of the days sites will be covered in the next post.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 06:01 AM   #27
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Great thread.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 12:19 PM   #28
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Great report so far! I love your comments with the pictures! Threads like these are fun to read I think the Seine river might have been swollen due to extensive rainfall across N and East France in April. I've seen it much more gently flowing when I was in Paris. Those stairs along the side also probably give acces to a sort of platform wich was probably flooded at the time you took pics.

The picture of the failed 70ties blocks with the army like painting on them is ironically a sort of ghetto right next to La Défance. Those are gouvernment social housing blocks build in 1977, of wich Paris has many, much more than NYC for instance. These are called Tours Nuage(Cloud towers)
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Last edited by joshsam; May 27th, 2012 at 12:29 PM.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 01:24 PM   #29
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Thanks for the very interesting tour of Paris.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 01:26 PM   #30
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That must be one of the most interesting threads if ever seen here. I like these tons of pictures and the way you document so many of them. I always prefer this to threads with only few but arty photos.
Can`t wait to see the pictures of Belgium and Germany.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 02:44 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshsam View Post
The picture of the failed 70ties blocks with the army like painting on them is ironically a sort of ghetto right next to La Défance. Those are gouvernment social housing blocks build in 1977, of wich Paris has many, much more than NYC for instance. These are called Tours Nuage(Cloud towers)
Thanks. That is very interesting. It never occurred to me that those could be government social housing. In the US almost all government social housing looks the same so it is very day to spot. Not so in France I guess.

Later I was to see some government housing in Paris (as pointed out by my hosts) that was nice and I later saw some government housing in Lille that looked very nice.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 03:10 PM   #32
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Thanks. That is very interesting. It never occurred to me that those could be government social housing. In the US almost all government social housing looks the same so it is very day to spot. Not so in France I guess.

Later I was to see some government housing in Paris (as pointed out by my hosts) that was nice and I later saw some government housing in Lille that looked very nice.
Thruth is though that most of the social housing isn't that nice and the 2005 riots in Paris and other cities in France all occured in those Social housing districts. They may look ok from the outside, but the insides... One of the worst area's in Paris I have been is Saint-Denis. The Social estates where all in a very bad shape at that time though the historical center of the suburb looked nice and quite upscale.

You not ever going to wander in such area's if you don't know where they are to find and tourists will also never see them. They are tucked away and hard to reach. If you have time, watch the film 'La Haine' (The Hate) because that is also Paris, much more than what people like to admit
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Old May 27th, 2012, 03:34 PM   #33
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image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

Cool, a Parisian High Line!!
That's just a pedestrian bridge. La Défense is full of them, because all pedestrian traffic is situated at +1 above ground, with all car traffic running 'underground' (although that's just normal ground level).

But Paris actually does have a real High Line, ie. a garden built on an abandoned elevated railway. It's called the Promenade Plantée (Tree-lined Walkway), and it's a nearly 5km long green ribbon running from Bastille to Bois de Vincennes, more or less - which is the opposite side of the city from La Défense. Random collage via google:


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Old May 27th, 2012, 03:40 PM   #34
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I assume that was built where the "petite ceinture" used to be?
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Old May 27th, 2012, 04:13 PM   #35
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no. the promenade plantée has nothing to do with the "petite ceinture" (inner belt). The promenade plantée used the viaduc of the old bastille line. The track outside paris are used by the rer A. Inside paris, the rer A is underground which allows it to go through Paris instead of having his terminus at Bastille.

You can see this walkway here http://goo.gl/maps/qNuf. If you follow it on the left, you will find the "opéra Bastille" which was build at the place of the old station.

By the way, this is a really nice thread.

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Old May 27th, 2012, 04:35 PM   #36
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fantastic report!!

i'm from lille and i wonder how can you capture a small city like lille after showing us the magnificient paris ville lumières!

great thread!!
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Old May 27th, 2012, 04:50 PM   #37
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Great photos!

Paris and London are at the top of the heap of European cities, which, in turn, are the best in the world. Paris is a particular jewel.

P.S.: The figures in this fountain are replicas of the original. The originals are owned by a store in New York called Urban Archeology and can be seen on its website.

http://www.urbanarchaeology.com/cuts..._UA0030-SV.pdf

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Old May 27th, 2012, 04:51 PM   #38
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Great report so far! I love your comments with the pictures! Threads like these are fun to read I think the Seine river might have been swollen due to extensive rainfall across N and East France in April. I've seen it much more gently flowing when I was in Paris. Those stairs along the side also probably give acces to a sort of platform wich was probably flooded at the time you took pics.

The picture of the failed 70ties blocks with the army like painting on them is ironically a sort of ghetto right next to La Défance. Those are gouvernment social housing blocks build in 1977, of wich Paris has many, much more than NYC for instance. These are called Tours Nuage(Cloud towers)
These blocks and the whole area (including parts of La Défense) were built were until the 70's was one of France's biggest slums (bidonville), housing mainly Algerian immigrants. It was an area of historical importance during the war of Algerian independance - on the 17th of october 1961 Algerian protestors, many of whom lived in these Nanterre slums, peacefully protested against a curfew imposed by the Parisian police. The result by the police was very brutal and resulted in the biggest massacre within the city of Paris since WW2, with around 200 protestors killed. So you actually were, like many tourists without knowing it, in a pretty historical area.

Other important slums was one in Champigny sur Marne - a bit further east from Saint-Maurice where 600West218 stayed - famous for housing Portuguese immigrants. Though you also had smaller slums here and there housing diverse populations, including 'white' french people.

Anyways, these projects, the Aillaud towers, housed many former residents of the slum. Nanterre remains to this day a very Algerian municipality, for the aforementioned historical reasons.


Here's a picture of the famous slum right next to the "CNIT", the building which is in the middle of la Défense and that you showed in your photos:



(if you want me to remove the picture because this is your thread it's absolutely no problem, just tell me or send me a PM and I'll remove it ASAP).
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Old May 27th, 2012, 06:22 PM   #39
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Very nice pics of the most beautiful city in the world!
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Old May 27th, 2012, 07:10 PM   #40
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Interesting. Thanks for pointing that out. A question I have is how did all the Haussmnian buildings come into private hands? Weren't they all built by the government.
Actually all the Haussmanian buildings have always been private. The urban planning development was done by the State, the most famous prefet of Paris beeing the baron Haussman; in return the State could sell the land with a markup to private developpers, who built all these marvelous buildings. Given the quantity and the quality of what has been built, it seems that at that time France was richer than ever.
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