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Old April 10th, 2008, 09:06 PM   #1
edubejar
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**Peaceful Sceaux = huge park, chateau & big rich houses (Paris suburb)**

While visiting Paris last month my friends and I took the RER to Sceaux, a rich municipality in the southern suburbs of Paris, to visit the huge Parc de Sceaux (park) and its chateau. On the way to the park and chateau from Parc de Sceaux RER station we came across some big single family houses more often associated with America, Australia, etc. However, the suburbs of Paris is home to many single family neighborhoods and this is particularly true in the southern burbs.

We walked 1.15 miles



Parc de Sceax RER station is 6 stations down on RER B from the last Paris station, Cité Universitaire. Bordering the southern end of the park is the Ile-de-France Périphérique, the 2nd loop freeway.







































Shortly after entering the park grounds...my friends havn't got a clue to how big the park is...they think it's just some "big" park



Looking back towards the gate from where we entered...I take it the houses that surround the huge park are among the most expensive. It is so tranquille, so peaceful...after walking through Paris we are surprised to hear total silence except for the birds, whom we can hear from afar, almost like an echo. Welcome to the upscale suburbs of Paris.



You will see pass me that we are approaching the huge geometric pond, kinda like the one in the Versailles grounds.






A group of visitors on a weekday on a douzen or so joggers breathing in the fresh air, far enough from the dirty air of Paris



One of my 2 friends, standing 6'4" besides one of the big trees, for comparison.



A mix of French-style landscaping with natural, random tree coverage






My other friend besides a coned bush








To be continued. I got to get back to work. The chateau is yet to come and a few more big houses on our way out so do come back for the rest shortly!
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Old April 11th, 2008, 04:51 AM   #2
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And so we reach the chateau, after a long walk along the long pond.






The view when we turn to look back.















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Old April 11th, 2008, 09:38 AM   #3
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Thanks for this trip in Sceaux, actually the part with the big house is the least dense part of Sceaux, the rest of the municipality (in the other side of the park) is much more urban but always peaceful and wealthy.
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Old April 11th, 2008, 10:43 AM   #4
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Thanks for the post. It's great to see other parts of Paris other than just the central city - a sight rarely seen without going ourselves.

This park will be fantastic once Spring really starts and especially in summer!
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Old April 11th, 2008, 04:51 PM   #5
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I knew you would like this, Justme

@ Minatu ku: I did notice on Google Earth that if we got off on Sceaux RER station north of the park grounds vs Parc de Sceaux RER station east of it we would pass through a hilly single-family house neighborhood, followed by Sceaux' old centre, before reaching the park and chateau. But I figured that would require a longer walk and we still wanted to see Versailles since we were on a 1-day 4-zone Paris transport ticket.

I will post a few more pics at lunch time as we left the park grounds and headed back to Parc de Sceaux RER station, passing through other nice houses. It's amazing how many single-family hosues there are in the Paris suburbs. In fact, it seems like the single-family neighborhoods occupy more area than multifamily/mixed use neighborhoods throughout the Paris suburbs, but they are rarely far from their local town centre and there always seems to be sidewalks and they always seem walkable.
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Old April 11th, 2008, 05:19 PM   #6
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Great pics and tour. Beautiful neighborhood. Thanks. -- DrT, Jacksonville, Florida, USA.
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Old April 11th, 2008, 09:16 PM   #7
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You're welcome DrT.

Here are the last of the Sceaux pics. My next thread will be of the affluent West Paris neighborhoods (specifically 8th and 16th Districts of Paris).

We walked towards an eatery stand at the park grounds to have crèpes aux saumon avec crème fraîche et herbes. Un café noir bien fort was also necessary to warm up and get energy since Red Bull are outlawed in France. This turned out a bigger problem in the nightclubs in Paris






And now my mug, next to one of my buddies, in front of the chateau



Looking back as we exit through the main gate. This is the other side of the chateau, btw.



Honda's we don't see in the US. My friends kept on noticing Hondas, Fords, etc. not seen in the US. This is what you get when you leave the park through the main gate.



Barracks (caserne)? Not sure.



Different houses on our way back to Parc de Sceaux RER station through a different street.



The styles are so varied in this neighborhood.



Even in Sceaux space is precious. Why can't everyone built up in urban areas?



These type of stone houses are typical in Paris suburbs but I usually find them in the more modest homes.









Sorry, I couldn't help thinking. In my part of the US, these workers would be Mexican migrants. But who knows. Maybe they are Eastern European.









We could still hear the birds everywhere.












There is a point to this. We're walking back the RER station not too far from these homes.










































We finally see the RER station a few steps ahead. If you walk a bit past the RER station you will reach the avenue where you make a left (northbound) that leads straight into Paris' Porte d'Orléans (gate), 3.71 miles. There is a bus that heads straight that way but we opted for the RER because we had to go to Versailles.



There are nice homes that border this RER line. The semi-covered stations must provide sufficient sound-barrier.






My two friends. One always smiles and the other is always serious. We're heading to Massy-Palaiseau a few stops down to transfer to the RER C to Versailles Chantiers station.



On our way further south, we pass through more modest, middle-class looking suburbs. I think we're passing Antony or Massy.









Apparently you can take the TGV from Massy if you're heading down the (Atlantique or Med line?) without having to leave from Paris Montparnasse or Paris Lyon stations.



This is our transfer point to Versailles. Massy-Palaiseau station is in a big railyard.
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Old April 12th, 2008, 05:07 AM   #8
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Great pictures. Several comments:
1- Sceaux is a wealthy suburb of Paris, but it's not among the top wealthiest. In 2005 the median fiscal income per consumer unit* (FIpCU) in Sceaux was 30,837 euros. This is only the 32nd highest median FIpCU in Greater Paris. There are 27 suburban municipalities and 4 arrondissements of central Paris where the median FIpCU is higher than in Sceaux. The highest is Milon-la-Chapelle (40,902 euros), then Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche (40,207 euros), and Marnes-la-Coquette (39,665 euros). Neuilly-sur-Seine, the municipality of Nicolas Sarkozy, is number four with a median FIpCU of 38,781 euros. The wealthiest arrondissement of central Paris is the 7th arrondissement with 35,171 euros. It ranks only 11th (i.e. 10 suburban municipalities have wealthier residents), which is not very surprising given that the population in central Paris is more mixed, so only the exclusive suburban municipalities can reach the top 10 of wealthiest places. Next time you're exploring the suburbs of Paris, I suggest you pay a visit to the places I mentioned. Try Marnes-la-Coquette for example, you'll be very surprised, it looks almost like Bel Air neighborhood in LA: large estates hidden behind high walls. That's where people with big money really live, not in Sceaux, although Sceaux is of course wealthier than the Greater Paris average.

*consumer unit: one single person counts as one consumer unit, a couple without children count as 1.5 consumer units, a couple with two kids under 14 count as 2.1 consumer units

2- Minato Ku is right, you missed the best part of Sceaux. The old part of Sceaux, to the north of the park, is one of the most beautiful old town centers in the suburbs of Paris. It also looks like a real town and not some suburb. I like Sceaux very much. There's a famous boarding school there. The Ottoman Jewish grandfather of Nicolas Sarkozy first lived in Sceaux when he arrived in France (he left Salonica in 1904 to attend the reputed boarding school of Sceaux).

3- You should come back after May. The park is beautiful in the end of Spring and in Summer. It's completely different from what you saw on a sad Paris winter day. Also, it's much busier than what you saw. From May to September the grounds around the châteaux are full of people, with open cafés, ice cream vendors, right inside the park next to the château.

4- last but not least, a few words about the history of this park and the château: the Parc de Sceaux was in fact the estate of Colbert, the famous minister of Louis XIV, who had a magnificent château built there for him by the same artists who built Versailles, and a park designed by Le Nôtre (the same Le Nôtre who designed the gardens of Versailles, hence the familiar canal that you rightly compared with the one in Versailles). Later the château and the estate passed on to one of Louis XIV's illegitimate sons whose wife the Duchess of Maine plotted several coups against the Regent who ruled France after the death of Louis XIV. The Duchess of Maine organized some famous fêtes at Sceaux during this period, and they are remembered as the "Nuits de Sceaux" (the "Nights of Sceaux"). That was the heyday of Sceaux, when all of Paris came there to attend the fêtes of the Duchess of Maine. Unfortunately the beautiful château built by Colbert and made famous by the Duchess of Maine was destroyed during the Revolution, like many other châteaux in Greater Paris (what you see today, such as Versailles or Fontainebleau, is only a tiny remnant of the many châteaux and royal estates that existed before 1789 in Greater Paris), while the park designed by Le Nôtre was utterly ruined and returned to cultivation.

Here is a view of the large château of Sceaux before the Revolution:


In the 19th century the son of one of Napoleon's generals, the Duke of Treviso (one of those nobility titles conferred by Napoleon) married the daughter of the farmer who now occupied the ruined estate of Sceaux. In 1856 he built a château in the early 17th century style. That's the château you can see now, which most French critics deem ugly and badly proportioned. He also started to restore the park designed by Le Nôtre but on a small scale. All works stopped with the First World War, and the estate was again in danger of being destroyed.

Eventually in 1924 the department of the Seine (the administrative council governing the City of Paris and its suburbs which was unfortunately disbanded by de Gaulle in 1964) bought the entire estate to save it from destruction. Part of the park was sold to developers who built the nice houses that you saw, which generated enough money to start serious work on the remaining part of the park. The canal was dug again following the plans of Le Nôtre (the canal had entirely disappeared after the Revolution), several ponds and waterfalls were recreated.

In other words all that you see now is a copy. The château is a mere 19th century fake copy much smaller than the original château, and the park is a 20th century reconstruction smaller than the park that existed before the Revolution. Not all the canals have been restored. Some ponds and bits of canals still await to be dug again to restore the park as Le Nôtre designed it more than 300 years ago. Nonetheless, fake or not, it's an extremely beautiful park which I like very much as you can tell. There you can enjoy the large alleys and vantage points of 17th century royal parks without the crowds of Versailles (the gardens of Versailles were in any case also largely recreated according to their original plans after the neglect of the Revolution and early 19th century).

In this picture you took, for example, all you can see was recreated just before the Second World War by the Seine department, but if I hadn't told you you would never have guessed it was so new, right?



Quote:
Originally Posted by edubejar View Post
These type of stone houses are typical in Paris suburbs but I usually find them in the more modest homes.
You couldn't know, but these are actually not modest houses at all, but dearly sought after houses. They are built with so-called pierre meulière (i.e. "millstone grit") because the same hard stones where used in mills for grinding grain before. The pierre meulière houses are typical of the pre-WW2 upper-middle-class Parisian suburbs; none were built after WW2, most were built around 1900 in Art Nouveau style, and I know people pay a lot of money to have a pierre meulière house. Personally I don't like them, I find them too austere, I prefer white limestone walls or pinkish walls such as where I grew up in southern France (in the south of France there are no pierre meulière houses), but people in Greater Paris like these pierre meulière houses very much. Easily more than half a million euros needed to buy one.

There even exist some websites devoted to pierre meulière house lovers such as this one:
http://pagesperso-orange.fr/vergezy/vdmarchitecte.htm
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Old April 12th, 2008, 09:59 PM   #9
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^Thanks for the info, brisavoine. Actually, I was aware that there are suburban municipalities more to the west of Greater Paris with much more sign of wealth, even if I ignored any of those figures you mention to measure wealth. They are not the ones you mention (except for Neuilly-sur-Seine) but others west of Paris city-proper in les Hauts de Seine department or maybe les Yvelines(?). Anyway, you can tell from the size of the houses and lots in Google Earth that there are bigger ones than Sceaux, and with a much more suburban-looking setting. I'm not looking at a map now but it's around the huge green preserve where they are building underground the last segment of the Ile-de-France loop freeway.

We almost went to see some of the big homes and apartments of Neuilly-sur-Seine, just east of La Défense, particularly the part adjacent to Bois de Boulogne, as well as some of the houses in Boulogne-Billancourt near Roland-Garros grounds, but that too never happened...too much walking.
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Old April 13th, 2008, 12:39 AM   #10
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Thanks for the tour edubejar, the Parc de Sceaux is a great place for jogging
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Old April 13th, 2008, 03:55 AM   #11
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@Edubejar: there are several wealthy municipalities in the western loop of the Seine that you mention, around Le Vésinet and Bougival. I don't know which one you refer to in particular. Here is a list of the wealthiest communes and arrondissements in Greater Paris, from the wealthiest to Sceaux.

Median fiscal income per consumer unit (in 2005):
1- Milon-la-Chapelle: 40.902 euros
2- Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche: 40.207
3- Marnes-la-Coquette: 39.665
4- Neuilly-sur-Seine: 38.781
5- Aigremont: 37.385
6- Etang-la-Ville: 36.385
7- Fourqueux: 35.748
8- Le Vésinet: 35.623
9- Vaucresson: 35.273
10- Les Loges-en-Josas: 35.193
11- 7th arrondissement: 35.171
12- Croissy-sur-Seine: 34.959
13- Villennes-sur-Seine: 34.652
14- Feucherolles: 34.023
15- Ville-d'Avray: 34.001
16- 16th arrondisement: 33.956
17- Chavenay: 33.955
18- 8th arrondissement: 33.639
19- Saint-Aubin: 33.550
20- 6th arrondissement: 33.543
21- Mareil-Marly: 33.458
22- Louveciennes: 33.013
23- Saint-Forget: 32.558
24- Saint-Cloud: 32.538
25- Saint-Lambert: 32.461
26- Bailly: 32.361
27- Rocquencourt: 32.307
28- Etiolles: 31.696
29- Saint-Witz: 31.247
30- Noisy-le-Roi: 31.098
31- Herbeville: 30.942
32- Sceaux: 30.837
...
...
140- Versailles: 26.094
...
...
City of Paris (20 arrondissements): 21.800
...
...
Greater Paris: 19.402
...
...
1296- Aubervilliers: 9.957
1297- Garges-lès-Gonesse: 9.715
1298- La Courneuve: 9.331
1299- Grigny: 9.018
1300- Clichy-sous-Bois: 8.915

Now if you really got balls, next time you'll make a photo tour in Grigny and Clichy-sous-Bois. Lol.
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Old April 13th, 2008, 01:19 PM   #12
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Brisavoine, where do you find this list ?

The district changed a lot since the last time that I was here.


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1299- Grigny: 9.018
1300- Clichy-sous-Bois: 8.915
Now if you really got balls, next time you'll make a photo tour in Grigny and Clichy-sous-Bois. Lol.
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Old April 13th, 2008, 07:03 PM   #13
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^ Ya, I'll take a helicopter tour, but not by foot.
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