The new Parc Clichy Batignolles is a huge success in park-starved Paris.
The promenade plantée, an elevated park built on top of the Viaduc des Arts along the Avenue Daumesnil in Paris, is now a familiar part of the Parisian landscape, but I was taken by surprise one day when I stumbled across it on the far eastern edge of the 12th arrondissement. What was it doing down below in a cutting instead of up on high near the Opéra Bastille?
I’d never followed the well-known linear garden beyond the Jardin de Reuilly, near Rue Mongallet, but now I know that it continues as far as the périphérique, the beltway around Paris. Following the grass rectangles of the Allée Vivaldi, the promenade passes beneath the Rue de Reuilly through a long tunnel lined with curious concrete water features, then opens out beneath the level of the surrounding streets, with mature trees and climbing plants covering the slopes of the cutting.
Less crowded than the raised walkway, the green canyon is wider and curvier here, with space for cyclists, joggers and skaters, and shady areas that are refreshingly cool and green in the summer heat. A maze and play areas punctuate the promenade as the path of the old train line curves around into the Square Charles Péguy, a tucked-away neighborhood park that is almost invisible from the surrounding streets. I felt I’d discovered one of Paris’s hidden secrets.
Parc Clichy Batignolles:
The obligatory ecological features are all in place – a wind turbine pumps the rainwater collected in sunken channels – as are elements of contemporary design: strikingly sculptural (but uncomfortable) wooden benches, a mound planted with grasses with flowering fronds and a skateboard ramp curving up into a hill. A major water feature with jets and mist clouds is under construction, and the former railway lines have been used to create a dry garden. They also inspired the linear form of the children’s play area, a great success judging by the amount of activity there.
There is no park café yet, so strollers have a good excuse to end their visit with an apéro in the charming square behind the nearby Saint Marie des Batignolles.
Ile Saint Germain: Walk on the Wild Side
Other parts of this 21-hectare park are home to community gardens, a pony club, and the Maison de l’Environnement, with exhibitions on nature and the environment. Watching over the park is “La Tour aux Figures,” a 24-meter-high sculpture by Jean Dubuffet.
© 2008 Paris Update
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