I love nothing more than walking around Paris on a sunny day. It is a city so full of character and beauty that never ceases to amaze me with its ability to take my breath away. There are many truly magical places to go for a leisurely stroll but if you want to take your walk to another level (literally) then I suggest the Promenade Plantée. The Promenade Plantée was the solution to the problem of an abandoned railroad track in the 12th arrondissement that was becoming an eyesore and an embarrassment to the locals. Landscape architect Jacques Vergely and architect Philippe Mathieux came up with the ingenious idea of transforming the derelict railroad track into a lush and serene walking path. Completed in 1994, the total trail is 4.5 kilometers but the elevated portion, which starts just behind the Opera Bastille and ends at the Jardin de Reuilly, is a distance of only 1.5 kilometers.
Not far from the Bastille metro station you climb a staircase and are immediately transported far above the hustle and bustle of the streets below. You walk through green trellis archways, which are either covered in pale pink blossoms or entwined with vines and grapes, and you can hear the birds happily chirping in the bushes. The trail is fairly narrow and at some points you feel completely enshrouded by the plant life, giving you the impression of being in a forest. All is calm up in the clouds as you breeze past rose bushes, daffodils, bamboo shoots and fragrant lavender. It is very popular with joggers and equally well known amongst couples looking for a romantic excursion. Fans of the movie Before Sunset you will no doubt remember the characters, played by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, discussing the meaning of life and reconnecting with each other while walking and pausing to sit on the green benches spread along the Promenade Plantée.
If you are like me and are constantly straining your neck to look up at the gorgeous architecture of the buildings in Paris then this aerial oasis will be a definite treat. You are finally at eye level with some of the most beautiful rooftops in the city and can stop and admire them without the fear of walking into a lamppost. The path slices through buildings, winds around trees and continues over bridges until you reach Jardin de Reuilly where you return to ground level and can lay in the grassy park below.
If shopping interests you more than architecture or botany, the viaduct on which the railroad track was built has now been converted into the Viaduct des Arts. The 70 terra cotta coloured arches all house a different artisan’s workshop. Custom made canes, costumes, lamps, gilded mirrors, musical instruments, chandeliers and jewelry are just a few of the interesting items that can be found along the Viaduct des Arts. For a full list of the artists and craftsmen located along this section of Avenue Daumesmil go to http://www.viaducdesarts.fr.
Once back on solid ground you can choose to continue further east along the trail towards the Bois de Vincennes or take a rest in one of the many cafes located in the lively area nearby. Don’t be surprised if you end up drifting back to the Promenade Plantée on more than one occasion, as it truly is a floating paradise.
Address: Avenue Daumesnil, Porte de St Mandé/Bois de Vincennes, 75012
Métro: Daumesnil, line M6 & M8