La Petite Ceinture
Leaving the Allee des Cignes we made our way towards Ballard purchasing a picnic along the way. We had heard about the Petite Ceinture last year too late to find it for ourselves and had picked up a free brochure of Balades or walks when we were visiting the Hotel de Ville on the Saturday which told us more. La Petite Ceinture is an abandoned railway line which has been left to nature and there are some parts which you can walk. Do check out the link which is a short BBC video in English and is fascinating.
Parc Georges Brassnes built on an area which until the 1970s was abbatoirs. No sense of that now though and it is a lovely place to sit.
Having enjoyed our lunch and a sit down we set off again towards the main road where we discovered we could get a tram using our tickets which cover travel on the Metro, the bus, the tram and the RER - we had bought a carnet of 10 tickets at a discount of about 20% over the price of buying 10 single tickets and also saving time at the ticket machines. The ride took us about half an hour and being along the street gave us views of Paris as we went.
Bois de Vincennes
Buttes des Cailles
Next day we decided on a walk we'd found in a Dorling Kindersley book about Paris which took us to the Buttes aux Cailles a peaceful area where not many tourists seem to venture although we did stop to talk with an American couple at one point just outside an intriguing yarn and tea shop L'Osive The an interesting little tea shop which also sells yarns and hosts a knit and natter group - do check out the link for a much better photo and info.
Back in March 1871 this working class area, along with many others in Paris rose up against the French government based in Versailles after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussion war. The National Assembly, elected in February of 1871 had a royalist majority and reflected the conservative attitudes of the provinces and the republican Parisians feared that they would restore the monarchy. The city of Paris set up its own government the Commune of 1871 and war broke out between Paris and Versailles. Frenchmen slaughtered Frenchmen and more people were killed in one week than during the 6 years of the Revolution 80 years earlier! Many buildings were also damaged including the Hotel de Ville which I showed you earlier. One picture in a book about Paris history we bought shows it as a near ruin! When the carnage was finally over France was left with a hatred between the right and the left that still poisons French politics. The Communard legacy lives on here and this little shop sells T-shirts,books and pamphlets on that bloody episode.
We walked back to the Metro and made our way back to the hotel stopping at the patisserie nearby to buy a pastry (yes just one I asked for two but when we got back found we'd only got one!) which we shared with a cup of tea and had a rest before setting out to walk round the local area in the hope of finding somewhere different to eat that evening. Finding restaurants that suit both Mr M, a meat and two veg man who hates pasta, and me, as I said a nearly vegetarian, locally since we were always too tired to go far after our days out proved somewhat difficult especially as the restaruant we'd liked so much last year had closed down!
...and the walls and pillars too. We forget that this is how they would have been when so often the stone work nowadays is unadorned and plain.
This not very clear photo is of King Louis IX who was canonised and also known as St Louis. A devout Catholic he acquired the Crown of Thorns from the Emperor of Constantinople and a couple of years later a fragment of the Cross. St Chapelle was built as a shrine to house these relics although the Crown of Thorns is now housed in Notre Dame.
Leaving St Chapelle we made our way to Isle St Louis and to the ice cream shop and this time we got our ice creams! I must say they were worth the wait - I had nougat au miel and Mr M chose plain vanilla and they were indeed delicious - maybe it was all that waiting to try one! If ever you are in Paris and fancy a really good ice cream then visit Berthillon on Isle St Louis Sadly the founder died recently and this article has lots of photos of the ice creams and the shop.
Les Jardins Caches du 18e
After a picnic lunch in the gardens just behind Notre Dame we took the Metro to Porte de Clignancourt from where we intended to do a walk we'd come across in a little booklet picked up at the Hotel de Ville on the Saturday called the Hidden Gardens of the 18th arondisement. It was marked as taking about 2 hours and being 3* which was apparently the advanced level for bon marcheurs as it woulde be steep and/or long. We felt able to tackle this after our previous days of training!
Lapin Agile cabaret and bar. Just across the road from this is a vineyard the largest in Paris apparently from which about 2,000 bottles of wine are harvested each year.
chouettes at a pavement cafe. I love these little choux pastry balls crispy with large grains of sugar and keep telling myself I will make some at home but so far haven't sourced the coarse sugar - anyone know where to get it in UK?
fabric shop though to browse and came away with a metre or so of rat-tail cord which I wanted. For anyone interested in stitching of any kind this shop is an Aladin's cave and you find things there you can't get elsewhere - just the place to spend a rainy afternoon or longer and the only difficulty is in deciding what to buy and what you could actually carry home!
Leaving Montmartre and the last garden listed thus having completed our walk we made our way back to Villiers and the hotel on foot. We passed a cinema outside of which was a homeless man who was busily picking his way through some popcorn dropped on the pavement and eating it - how I wished I had a sandwich or something to offer him....
doudoune for a dog at 209 euros!
Back at the hotel we relaxed in our room having enjoyed our last day of walking and exploring; the day after we would be making our way to Gare du Nord and from there to London and home a long day of sitting down for a change. We'd really enjoyed our stay and been incredibly lucky with the weather and are now finding out more about the places we found and wondering whether another trip maybe in the spring might be possible - always a good sign of a great holiday in my book. If you have made it this far you deserve a medal!