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Old May 27th, 2012, 07:12 PM   #41
lebleuet
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Great pictures. I can't wait your tours of Lille and Germany !
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Old May 27th, 2012, 10:12 PM   #42
600West218
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshsam View Post
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
Thanks, for the information. I had intended to go to such areas. But because the city overwhelmed me I wound up spending most all of my time in touristy areas. When I visit again I definitely want to wander some of the suburbs more. I figure I can get there by just taking the trains. Interestingly, in Paris when going in or out of the city I didn't see the really old urban working class housing stock like I saw in Lille, Ghent and Charleroi.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 10:16 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eklips View Post
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).

Wow, thank you so much for the information and the picture. Anyone can post pictures or information here if it is on topic and helps give background and context to what we are seeing. I want to keep learning about what I saw and your information is very helpful. I imagined they had to have knocked something down to build La Defense but didn't know what it was.

I can't believe the buildings in that picture. It looks like a shantytown - not a anything that could have existed in Paris in the 1960s

It is very interesting that the half domed building proceeds La Defense. Right now it is a very upscale shopping mall, I went in and wandered around a bit. What was it back when the area was a slum?
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Old May 27th, 2012, 10:23 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puinkabouter View Post
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:


Very interesting. I don't know that I would call the walk way in la Defense a "bridge" though. I didn't seem to have as its purpose to take you anywhere - it had dead end after maybe a kilometer.

But I get your point that it is not an old railroad track. Too bad I missed the real one It is amazing how much I still have left to see when I go back. It can't begin right at the Bastille, can it? I was around the Bastille and followed the canal that goes through it (or rather under it) and didn't see it. Then again, I didn't know to look for it.

Frankly, I wasn't well prepared for Paris. I didn't even have a guide book with me. For some reason (probably insanity) I just didn't think it would be as massive as it actually is.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 11:59 PM   #45
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Day 3 Continued....

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Heading on the metro back over the Seine I saw another barge struggling against the current. They not only have to contend with the current but they also don’t have much clearance under the bridges.

Getting off in the center of Paris I had to cross over the Seine yet again to get to the Pantheon.

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Obviously the water level must be lower sometimes or this walkway would be completely pointless.

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The never ending beautiful Haussman buildings

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A closer view of the observatory that I had seen before.

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This is a recreation of the famous pendulum experiment that confirmed the earth’s rotation. The pendulum is suspended from the top of the dome giving it a nice long period.

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Part of what was nice about the Pantheon is that it wasn’t overdone. Yes, it had art and some statues inside. But not to many. It didn’t have the cluttered feel and let you focus on the granduer of the structure instead.

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After leaving the Pantheon I headed for the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery. I wanted to see where the French Communards of 1871 were buried. (Incidently, I was told that the wide streets and boulevards of Paris were a response to things like the 1871 Paris Commune - the government wanted to get rid of narrow streets that could be easily blockaded).

Getting to the cemetery wasn’t that easy. I went to a metro stop that was close to it but on the opposite side from its entrance. So I had a long uphill walk to get to the entrance.

Once inside though it was nice and they had a person handing out maps of the location of key graves. It was obvious it was a pretty upscale cemetary.

They actually had a number of markers and monuments that were for general tragedies rather than individual graves.

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A number were to particular concentration camps of the Holocuast.

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And this to those who resisted the Nazis

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Finally I came to that of the Paris Commune:

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I think they are actually interred here but I’m not 100% sure.

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Around were the Communards were seemed to be the burial spot for various leftists:

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And to those who volunteered in the Spanish Civil war:

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No idea what graves these were but their design was typical of the cemetery:

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Next I was quickly off to the Basically of the Sacred Heart - a church high on a hill that I was told offered very good views of the city.

On the way the metro line became elevated and allowed me to see that we passed a very interesting looking canal with locks! I didn’t get off to see it immediately but was determined that once I saw the church I would go back to check out the canal.

Arriving at the area of the church I quickly found that I was back in the hordes of toursists. To get to the church you first have to walk up an unappealing street packed with stores filled with tacky souveniers.

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The hill that it is on isn’t particularly high so the walk up is pretty easy.

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The view is decent but not spectacular. Frankly, if you’ve gone up the Eiffel tower there is no reason to come to this soley for the view.

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As I had gotten their late the tower closed and I wasn’t able to go up it. That happened to me a lot in Paris.

Sooooo, it was off to check out the interesting looking canal. I took the metro to Stalingrad station (yes, they have a metro station named Stalingrad)

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As you can see, it is an elevated station.

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One good thing about the Paris metro is the windows are really big which make it easy to see where you are even when the train is crowded.

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I had to walk underneath the metro for a bit to get to the canal.

And there it is:

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This picture is actually from a pedestrian bridge that goes over it.

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As an aside there was lots of graffiti in this part of Paris. Actually, on this trip I was to see lots of very good quality graffiti. I can remember when people used to come to New York looking for good graffiti. No more. Now I would recommend they go to northern France and Belgium. As this trip progresses you’ll see why.

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It looks like you can go at least 60 miles on this canal.

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The canal became at this point a quite wide basin with some restaraunts alongside it.

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A big old canal boat which are called “peniches” in France. There are plenty of old peniches around, some of which have been converted into homes, but there are quite a few working ones around as I was later to see in Belgium

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Note the steering mechanism. It is simply a chain on a wheel which turns the rudder. It looks very weak to me (ie, the chain doesn’t hook into anything but rather simply depends on friction not to slip) but apparently it works.

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Some across the way had been converted into eateries.

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Note they also have anchors at both the bow and stern.

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This thing also headed south to the Seine. I knew that tomorrow I would go back and try to walk that.

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Some interesting looking historical background. If only I could read it :-(

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I just now realized that looks like a fairly wide basin. I wonder if it is the same basin where I was and that had the restaraunts. If so, no traces of the old industry remain.

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A leaky canal lock, like the ones I am used to in New York. I was later to see one in Belgium that didn’t leak so much as a drop of water.

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This was looking south, towards the Seine. It was getting late and was time for me to head home to my hosts. Exploring this further would have to wait until the next day.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 12:37 AM   #46
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Fantastic thread. It brings back so many memories of when I visited. And great commentary too - makes for a very interesting read.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 12:39 AM   #47
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Nice update I think in your last pic the lower buildings along the canal might at least show a bit of history I very much like how you just seem to stumble upon interesting things
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Old May 28th, 2012, 03:51 AM   #48
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Paris day 4

For my final full day in Paris the game plan was as follows: In the morning go to Versaille and see not only the absurd luxury that led to the French Revolution but also the Hall of Mirrors which is the place we all know from history class that World War and then in the afternoon further explore the canal I had seen the day before.

So in the AM off I went to Versaille which is a short train ride outside of Paris.

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This is actually an interesting old house I passed in St. Maurice each morning.

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A statue of Louis the 14th. Note the busses. This place was mobbed, and I mean mobbed, with tourists.

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The massiveness of the palace was really impossible to capture in photographs. To fit it all in you would have to be so far away from it that the buildings would appear tiny when in reality they are huge.

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Gold and tourists: the two things you’ll see the most at Versaille.

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These are the main buildings that are open to the public. The complex is so huge that unless you have days to spend there you will only see a tiny portion. The ticket I bought only allowed me to go into this part and the huge gardens. There is another large complex that was built for Marie Antoinette that I didn’t even purchase a ticket for. And of this main complex I would guess that I saw less than 10% of it.

I am not really the type that enjoys art or ostentatious shows of wealth. But after you see Versaille you will understand why the French people revolted.

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A very interesting globe with the outer shell showing a map and the inner part show topography. There wasn’t anything explaining it and I don’t believe it can be original to the palace because I don’t believe they had such accurate maps at that time.

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This was a chapel inside the palace

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At first I thought the name of this person might have something to do with the etymology of the word “hospital” but when I looked it up in Wilkepedia I realized it didn’t.

There was a huge exposition of art of the Napoleonic Wars which was really, really good. If anyone is in Paris while it is still on I highly recommend it. They didn’t allow photography.

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The upper part of the chapel.

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In viewing the over the top nature of this palace and its grounds the thought that came to my mind is that it wasn’t really built so much for the comfort of its inhabitants (who needs all this?) but rather to impress any visitors, particularly those from foriegn countries, of the tremendous wealth and power of the French monarchy. At least that is my theory.

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A tiny piece of the gardens as seen from a window.

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Far away in the distance you can see the huge “canal” made for the pleasure of the residents.

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Finally, the huge “Hall of Mirrors”. It, like the rest of the palace, was packed with tourists.

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I still don’t get the infatuation of French royalty with infants. Maybe they were used so much in sculptures of the time because they were seen as pure?

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I believe it was this room where the king received visitors.

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Not such a great photo - the lighting wasn’t good. But the point is these huge portraits were everywhere.

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This is in back of the palace heading to the gardens.

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A Sphynx and a baby. I guess maybe the infatuation with Sphynx’s was one factor leading to the invasion of Egypt?

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In the distance is the huge canal. Scale is hard to judge in the photograph but it is a long walk to get to it.

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There were lots of giant hedgerows like this that were maze=like and led to other fountains or statues.

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Getting closer to the “canal”

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It soon started to rain and I had seen most of what I wanted to see there so it was off to the train station to head back to Paris and the canal I wanted to explore. That will be shown in the second post for Day 4 in Paris.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 05:09 AM   #49
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Incroyable

I love the atmosphere the cloudy weather gives. Thanks!
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Old May 28th, 2012, 06:45 AM   #50
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Day 4 continued.

To go back to Paris to explore the canal I went back to the Versaille train station and caught was is a suburban train back into Paris

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The trains going to the outer parts of Paris all seem to be double decker ones.

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And you spend about 20 minutes rolling past places that look like this:

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Not sure what this balloon is for.

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Back in Paris I switch to the metro to get to the Bastille from which I will begin my exploration of the canal.

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In the Bastille metro station there is actually more information about the Bastille than there is above ground apparently because they dug up parts of its ruins when they were building the metro.

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A leftover from the party a few days before I guess

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The monument to the Bastille

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Here is the marina on the canal by the Bastille. If you recall I saw this before from the metro station at the Bastille.

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The locks that connect the canal to the Seine.

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Notice there is a metro line bridge above the canal and you can see the metro train crossing it.

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A strange looking lock door. It seems to have sluice gates so they can raise and lower the water level even when the doors are closed.

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And speaking of strange check out this police boat.

I then turned around and started heading inland.

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This shows how they built a roof over a long section of the canal. That is why you don’t see the canal when you are at the Bastille. It has gone underground at that point and goes underground under a big avenue for several kilometers

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A nice color scheme

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In the background you can see the Bastille and in the foreground you see the beginning of the tunnel.

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The entrance of the tunnel. Unfortunately both sides are blocked by gates that were locked so it was impossible to get inside. This was really annoying. I had no choice then but to follow the route of the canal above ground until it came out again.

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Pretty extensive graffiti to have been painted on private vehicles.

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These guys are actually playing their game right on top of the canal.

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This avenue seemed to be a combination of Haussman type buildings along with other, newer buildings.

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Finally after walking quite a ways the canal is above ground again.

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This is the end of the tunnel. Again, it was blocked so you couldn’t actually walk into it.

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This is what the tunnel apparently looks like inside. Thing is, I never saw and light shafts when I was walking above it.

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There were lots of people hanging out by the canal and having picnics. But I didn’t see anyone with boats or kayaks using the canal. That is a shame and a contrast to other places that you will see later like Ghent.

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Getting close to where I had been the day before.

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Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

A lot of political posters by the canal.

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Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

Canals seem to attract graffiti.

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Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

There is the metro. The very same one I had been on the other day when I first saw the canal.

As I was going out to dinner with my hosts that is all I had time for. Although I would have liked to have gone further I had to head back to St. Maurice.

This was a building in St. Maurice that caught my attention because of its interesting brick pattern.

image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

I’d still like to know what kind of tree this is.

image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

We went to eat at an Indian restaraunt in a different suburb that was a working class/poor suburb according to my hosts.

They told me these were public housing projects.

image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

They certainly look quite nice to me. But I was to see even nicer public housing in Lille - it looked like luxury housing. If you are going to be poor France is the place to do it.

image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr


Later my hosts took me for a car ride around Paris to see it at night. I actually saw lots of interesting places that I hadn’t seen during the day such as the National Library, the Finance Ministry and a sports arena built with grass walls. Obviously, from a car at night I couldn’t get pictures.

But I did get to see the Eiffle Tower at night even if this picture is lousy.

image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

And I saw the Opera at night.

image hosted on flickr

Untitled by 600West218, on Flickr

With that my time in Paris concluded. The next day I was off to Ghent.

I hadn’t seen nearly as much as I wanted to see in Paris. But Paris is way too big to take in in such a short period. Obviously it is a place I will have to return to in the future.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 10:50 AM   #51
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Thanks for the most interesting tour of Paris - I've never been, and so it was well received.

Versailles is utterly bombastic - even though it is clearly magnificent - it must be hard to 'enjoy' it.

The trees you mention are called Monkey Puzzle Trees ( not sure of Latin name). They are an ancient species.

Here in England there is a town on the North Yorkshire coast called Whitby - which is famous for two things - firstly, its abbey provided Bram Stoker with the inspiration for 'Dracula'; secondly, for its 'jet' stone - a black stone which is, in fact, the fossilised remains of monkey puzzle trees. The whole area was covered with them in pre-historic times. When they are mature they area magnificent sight.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 12:56 PM   #52
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Oooh, Gent (my home town) coming up, this just keeps getting better

Also, I went to Versailles with my parents when I was 13 or so (my dad had to go to Paris for business quite frequently, so that was a nice perk) and I remember it being truely massive and full of gold everywhere. I did explore it again a week ago using google streetview.
I'm also quite eager to see your pictures of Lille as it is a town I know quite well since my dad lived there for something like 6 years.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 01:12 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by openlyJane View Post
Thanks for the most interesting tour of Paris - I've never been, and so it was well received.

Versailles is utterly bombastic - even though it is clearly magnificent - it must be hard to 'enjoy' it.

The trees you mention are called Monkey Puzzle Trees ( not sure of Latin name). They are an ancient species.

Here in England there is a town on the North Yorkshire coast called Whitby - which is famous for two things - firstly, its abbey provided Bram Stoker with the inspiration for 'Dracula'; secondly, for its 'jet' stone - a black stone which is, in fact, the fossilised remains of monkey puzzle trees. The whole area was covered with them in pre-historic times. When they are mature they area magnificent sight.
People plant those a lot in their gardens overhere in Belgium :p We call them 'slangenden' wich means 'snake pine'. What is strange is that these pine threes actually can't have to much frost while most others can. Many frooze dead past winters overhere as temps fell below -15°C.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 01:14 PM   #54
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Great tour of Paris and places I've never seen too I enjoyed it. can't wait for your comment on pictures in Belgium. I'm always trilled to hear an American giving commentairy on my own country

Edit: I'm not sure if this graffiti thing in France/Belgium you seem quite enthousiast about is really a good thing :') I think it shows neglect of property
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Old May 28th, 2012, 02:07 PM   #55
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They certainly look quite nice to me. But I was to see even nicer public housing in Lille - it looked like luxury housing. If you are going to be poor France is the place to do it.
An exeption really. 90% of the social housing stock as wel in France as in Belgium and Germany looks like this: Prefab commieblock housing. As I said they might look better on the outside than those brown brick blocks of NYC but I think if you knew the living conditions inside those kind of projects....

http://6c.img.v4.skyrock.net/6ce/kel...53_small_3.jpg

I hope you visited cité Hellemans while you where in Brussels. It's one the first ever social housing projects in Western Europe build in 1915. They really look good now and still house poor people. Once they looked really bad.

http://www.globalview.be/pictures/big/A_545105.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...llemans_08.JPG
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...llemans_06.JPG
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Old May 28th, 2012, 03:47 PM   #56
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An exeption really. 90% of the social housing stock as wel in France as in Belgium and Germany looks like this: Prefab commieblock housing. As I said they might look better on the outside than those brown brick blocks of NYC but I think if you knew the living conditions inside those kind of projects....

I don't think that's true. Those massive commieblocks were only erected in the 60s and 70s and although they are the most visible and recognizable as 'social housing' they are only a tiny fraction of the social housing stock. Modern social housing are actually looking quite right and are not that different from 'normal houses'. Eg. this and this are also social housing projects.

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Old May 28th, 2012, 04:01 PM   #57
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That's only Belgian/ Dutch style social housing of the last decade indeed. I doubt you'd find that in France? Near big cities you'll never find such housing anyways...I agree about more rural area's though but the thruth is social housing in smaller places never was in huge blocks but in neighborhoods with houses that have only one design. From the moment you go to a bigger city, concrete blocks are most of the social housing.

Example of such a neighborhood build in the
70ties: http://goo.gl/maps/J8fE
80ties: http://goo.gl/maps/spKS
2000's: http://goo.gl/maps/VSHg
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Old May 28th, 2012, 04:11 PM   #58
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Quote:
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Edit: I'm not sure if this graffiti thing in France/Belgium you seem quite enthousiast about is really a good thing :') I think it shows neglect of property
I agree. But at least the graffiti I saw was of good quality - quite good quality as a matter of fact.

When I first came to New York the subways were entirely covered in graffiti. Most of it was terrible but some was quite good. For years even after it was gone tourists used to come to New York hoping to see all the graffiti on the subways and would often express disappointment when it was gone.

Brussels and Charleroi in particular took me back to those days
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Old May 28th, 2012, 04:13 PM   #59
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Eg. this is also a social housing project.
That is unreal.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 04:21 PM   #60
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Sure most of the time they use cheaper materials. But it's not that social housing projects can't be made architectural interesting.

And in Flanders it's obligated that large projects (like apartment blocks) contain at least 20% social housing. So more and more social housings becoming unrecognisable from the outside and that's IMHO a good thing. The sole difference is the size of the apartments and houses.
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