Paris, city of water ways – Exchange with outside of Paris

Summary of the trail: We know Paris as the City of Lights but not as city of waterways. However, Paris is built around the Seine River and “cut” by many canals. Strong communication ways, these canals belong to the Parisian landscape as romantic or picturesque ribbons and no longer as highways. Let’s scratch this idea and go to the past, to discover a city quite different as the one we know!

Watch in full screen

Your name as author of the trail: Hélène Herniou – visicity

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A curious sculpture

Step 1

How to arrive at this step?

Go out of the underground station “Stalingrad” and go to the fountain, on the left side of the canal (with the Stalingrad gate-rotunda in your back)

What?

Kamakura_JeanclosI was really astonished when I discovered this fountain: in the middle of buildings, large streets, shouts and an environment full of life, this so calm sculpture, on the top of a fountain without water clashes with everything that surrounds it. This sculpture shows a shaved seating male figure wearing a Buddhist priest toga, in a meaningful position by the mudras (Sanskrit term to define these specific meaningful hands position). The message here given is protection (fingers joined are the symbol of absence of fear because of the protection given by Buddha and the lifted palm is also a protection symbol). I didn’t find sure information about it, but it seems that, as Gearges Jeanclos has designed (with architect Bernard Huet) the squared fountain in the middle of the Stalingrad square and he created the Kamakura sculptures series (c. 1988) that look like this fountain sculpture, it is likely that we are in front of one of his works. Kamakura is a Japanese city and defines a history period (1185-1333).

References

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Rotonde de la Villette

Step 2

How to arrive at this step?

Turn to your right hand and come to this huge round building

What?
BarrieresFG_by wikiGenWeb
map by WikiGenWeb

This building is known as the Villette rotunda. This rotunda is actually one of the last three gates erected in Paris by Ledoux still in place. Villette was, before to be a part of the current Paris, a village at the fringe of Paris and at that time, the goods coming and going in or out Paris were taxed. Yet, this gate was an aesthetic ornament for collector of customs taxes, controllers and horse guards desks. You are maybe feeling in front of a strict building with more stones than openings but if you detail precisely the building, yet you are seeing different aperture sizes, a different work of stone surface to play with the light, a fight between vertical columns and pillars versus horizontal lines, … If it open, please enter in this building and let Claude Nicolas Ledoux surprise you again!

References

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The last lift bridge of Paris

Step 3

How to arrive at this step?

After you’ve spent time time of admiring the rotunda, walk around the Villette pool, especially on the right side. There you will find graffiti, an elevated bridge above the lock (that communicates directly with the Saint-Martin Canal); now you are living an Amelie effect! Walk along the right side of the canal (Quai de la Loire), straight away toward the long red brick building. After the building, turn on your left hand and cross the bridge.

What?

PontDeCrimeeThis bridge was built in 1885 to let pedestrians cross the bridge even of this one was open to let a ship navigate on the canal. This bridge is the last lift bridge in Paris but also an evidence of the capital city’s fluvial activity until the beginning of the 20th century. The little place surrounded by trees, in front of a church is the Bitche Place (it’s also the name of a Lorraine village and of a battle); subject of a Jules Romains poem (in Lovers journey).

References

 

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Paris, its past, its modernity

Step 4

How to arrive at this stepBassinDeLaVillette_Mesnager?

Walk back some steps toward the right bank of the canal and then straight ahead along the canal. Play the video underneath when you reach the huge metal bridge covered by graffiti (among them one by Jérôme Mesnager, the white human silhouette)

Lys Gauty, Le bassin de la Villette

References

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End is only the beginning!

Step 5

How to arrive at this step?

Walk past the canals roundabout (meeting point between the Saint-Martin canal and Ourcq canal) to go straight ahead toward the red structures. You are entering in the Villette “territory” with this first red “folie” (these structures can be only a pedestrian signal or a restaurant, …). Go up the stairs then turn on left to reach the underground line 7 (Porte de la Villette) or walk on the bridge and down on your right for the underground line 5 (Porte de Pantin)

What?

Parc de la VilletteThese red structures are a good clue to understand where you are (numbers on every folie) inside this huge park. It was designed during the 1980’s on the former area of Parisian abattoirs. This area is designed as an open space (whatever the hour of the night or the day) to everyone, to every kind of wandering and as an educational, artistic and scientific place (Science and industrial city, Music city, cinema, fair hall, zenith, (black) submarine, …). Materials and shapes used are thoroughly thought by its architect, Robert Tschumi, because, if you feel lost in this huge park, see the ground materials: two different colours, one for the quick circulation (go from a place to another, for pedestrians, cyclists, rollers) and another which zigzag through all the park and offer you different atmospheres during your wondering. Our trail is finished but this great park is really worth a walk through both banks of the Ourcq canal.

Jaimi Faulkner, In the morning light she goes

References
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