Along the grey and somewhat mundane streets of the 12th arrondissement stretches a verdurous path–one that is so lushly green and vegetated that it could have been taken straight from the Shire–that goes along the old Vincennes railway, from Opera Bastille to Bois de Vincennes.
The Promenade Plantée is the city’s 4.7 km long highline park, raised about 10 meters above the ground near the Bastille area, the path continues to go on a downward slope until it goes underneath the city, through tunnels and into overgrown trenches on its course to Bois de Vincennes. On an overcast, slightly rainy Saturday afternoon it’s a perfect place to take a walk with friends: despite the occasional drips of rain, the cloudy sky illuminates the greenery of the park, turning it into a magical forest hidden within the depths of Paris.
Bikers, rollerbladers, walkers, runners, wanderers, stroller pushers, and more can be found here getting excercise, letting off steam, or having a family day. It feels like an escape from the city atmosphere, where one can take in a deep breath and smell the scent of plants and soil instead of the usual car exhaust and cigarette smoke.
Along the way the path is surrounded by vegetation, and unlike the typical Parisian park the plants are not trimmed into perfect shape or put in perfect order, instead, the foliage has been let to grow however it likes, which gives the feel of being in an actual forest. The color of flowers contrasts with the greenery beautifully.
As you walk along the path, there are various deviations where playgrounds or picnic areas arise, as well as different views of the city, overlooking Gare de Lyon or into a narrow and graffitied street of the 12th arrondissement. Judy, Dana, and I were eager to explore the area, so we walked for a couple of hours along the promenade, talking, laughing, and smelling roses until we had worked up quite an appetite, one that required a stop at a boucherie on the way home to get a roast chicken and some potatoes, and a warm baguette from the boulangerie. A Saturday well spent.