Local Heart, Global Soul

April 24, 2014

Playing At Being The Train Driver…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One interesting thing about my hotel being out at Bercy Village in Paris is that my metro stop is Cour Saint-Émilion.

Ok, nothing too interesting there, but the line that this station is on is.

Paris Métro line 14 is the only Paris Métro line to be completely automated since the opening of the line. Automated in this case means driver-less!

There’s already an indication that something a little different is going on as soon as you descend into the station: instead of the usual “open” space between the platform and the train, there is in this case a massive perspex wall he whole length of the platform that has sliding doors in it at various intervals.

This is to stop passengers from falling onto the tracks. When the train comes into the station it’s programmed so that the train doors match up with the sliding doors, which once the train is stationary, open automatically.

After a short pause both the platform doors and the train doors close and the train departs. Because the trains on these lines have no drivers, it is possible to nab a seat in the very first carriage and if you are quick, a seat right at the very front by the glass window that faces down the tunnel. The glass was very thick, but I managed to take two little video clips from one of these front seats (which I had all to myself because it was fairly early on a Sunday morning and the train had very few passengers).

The videos give you the same view of the Paris Métro that a train driver would have, and I at least thought that that was rather cool. (I must have “geek” written all over me LOL). From the Paris Métro website I learned: “The line opened in October 1998 and the Line 14 tunnel passes underneath seven Métro lines, the sewers, Clichy-Capucines, four underground carparks and over two RER lines and on average 450,000 passengers take the line on working days.

Usually the line operates without problem but there have been several accidents. While the platform doors prevent access to the rails, they are susceptible to electric outages which have halted service entirely. Fortunately these incidents have been comparatively rare.

I liked the station at Cour Saint-Émilion, I was just a few short stops from the city centre and getting around Paris from this area was easy and relaxed. so much so I’d be keen to come back to this area on any future trip to Paris.

April 13, 2014

So Beautiful: It’s A Walk In The Park…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s totally amazing that  in a city of over ten million people that it is possible to have almost an entire central city park to yourself.

Admittedly I got up ridiculously early on a Sunday morning and this is a business park area which is crowded during the working week but relatively empty during the weekends, but just a few kilometres from the heart of Paris? I was stunned.

All of this was back in 2009  when I was in Paris meeting up with a Foodie friend and her husband, we had been on-line friends via a cooking website for several years previous and this was an excellent chance to finally meet in person.

I was not disappointed: she and her husband were lovely, witty and charming and in between their  scheduled tour group  events we spent many an hour exploring the city.

They are staying at the Sofitel Paris Bercy Hotel in Bercy Village and I stayed at the Ibis Hotel just around the corner. They had been out late with the tour group on Saturday evening and the jet lag had now kicked in more than just a little, so I left them to sleep in at their hotel whilst I made an early bird start from mine. I didn’t have far to walk to reach my next destination, I had spied an intriguing set of gates close to the  nearest Paris metro station (Cour Saint-Émilion) and had gotten up early especially to investigate this place further.

The place in question is “Parc de Bercy”, a  beautiful city park that runs alongside part of Quai de Bercy. It’s so peaceful and during my entire time walking around I saw only two other people, but a little group of sparrows (?) joined me, probably in hope of caging some breakfast, but alas I had no food on hand to give them.It’s a long photographic post, but I hope you will agree well worth it because I consider this to be one of Paris’s hidden gems.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Parc de Bercy
128 Quai de Bercy
75012 Paris
Frankrijk

April 12, 2014

Not Water From Wine, But Renewal From Wine Warehouses…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Big cities all over the world are regularly faced with the dilemma of how to upgrade  former industrial areas.

In European cities that have grown substantially over the centuries, industries that were once on the outskirts of the city  now find themselves in prime residential and commercial  areas as the city and it’s population expands.

Inevitably the encroachment means that land prices rise and industrial use is not longer as profitable, transportation of industrial sized goods become difficult in now more densely populated areas and the industries start searching for cheaper land out of town where transport is easier and land prices are cheaper.

This eventually leaves old historical inner city areas run down or derelict and local councils have to decide between demolition or incorporating the old buildings into the regeneration project.

In the Bercy Village area in Paris, France there were long rows of wine warehouses that presented just such a problem  but luckily the solution found was to turn this into an artisan shopping area. The renovated warehouses now house cafés, restaurants and a large variety of shops, I will admit that it is rather touristy, but listening to the languages spoken as I walked past the outside tables of the eateries, it seems to be a popular place with locals too.

I like that some of the original features such as the railway line in the street have been kept, even if they have been filled in and are just symbolic.

The metro station is close by so I passed this every day at various times of day but took the photographs early on a Sunday morning when things were quiet and I could walk and take photos without the jostle and bustle of the crowds. I did try and take photos at other times but it was so busy the views were obscured.

On the Saturday I shopped there buying a long rainbow coloured ribbon on a stick (like the ones rhythmic gymnasts use)  for Kiwi Daughter to play with in the park and a wind-up torch for LittleMr. who was busy at home trying to waste as many batteries as possible with his obsession with torches at the time. Himself  scored some handmade chocolates and a bottle of the very alcoholic type.

The metro station is on the other side of the wine warehouses but instead of getting the business park and office worker commuters to walk around the long row of warehouses, one of the warehouse buildings was left empty, exits made in the back and is now a covered passageway that short-cuts though the line of buildings without changing the style, line or character of the buildings very much at all. It’s the kind of sympathetic solution to solve a practical problem whilst still keeping the history that I love. Ingenious!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

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