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Strolling n' Credding in Paris - Part 4: Around République & Canal St-Martin

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Coaster Hipster, May 17, 2017.

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Which district do you want me to cover next? :)

Poll closed May 26, 2017.
  1. Le Marais (Fashion and some rare medieval stuff)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. 13th Arrondissement (Eclectic, with some quiet countryside-like streets)

    3 vote(s)
    100.0%
  1. Coaster Hipster

    Coaster Hipster Well-Known Member

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    Hello again!

    After writing Phantasialand and Liseberg TRs back in April, I realised how much I enjoyed drafting my impressions on coasters and parks. Unfortunately, there was no big cred in my booking plans for the coming weeks. (Yes, weeks. I'm that addicted :p)

    Then it hit me: what about making a "cultural adventure" report about my hometown? I lived around Paris for over two decades, so maybe it would be interesting to share my experience of that big city with enthusiasts, especially with some people coming this year in France for Pégase Express. I am not pretending to know everyting about Paris - in fact, this is an opportunity for me to discover parts of the city I barely ventured into :) I will try to avoid clichés like the Effel Tower as much as possible and show Paris in a sometimes ordinary, sometimes unexpected light. I will also post my route so it will be easier to follow.

    Oh and there's some coasters in and close around Paris too, and I hope to cover them up as well!


    -PART 1: Latin Quarter & Carrousel-

    Anyway, let's start with one of the best-known districts of the city: the Latin Quarter...

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    Dropping off the train at Luxembourg station, I headed to the right for the Panthéon. Standing proud uphill, this former church is now used as a burial place and a monument to pay tribute to distinguished French. Entrance is free for youngsters under 25 so I took full advantage of this and went inside.

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    Even though it isn't my first visit there, I am amazed by the tall rock structure and its geometrically perfect domes. You feel really small looking up and measure how much it was an architectural achievement for the time. It looks powerful but sophisticated as well.

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    The walls are clustered with paintings depicting French history. Here's one with some stuff around King St Louis.

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    It was initially fairly quiet inside but then a group of school people got in. I decided to leave since French pupils are usually noisy during cultural visits! The exit leads to a picturesque view of Rue Soufflot, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Damn it, already a cliché!

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    I walked back a few steps on Rue Soufflot and turned right on Rue Saint-Jacques, which is home to Sorbonne University's headquarters, with its distinctive observation tower. It's worth saying that most Sorbonne's classes actually take place elsewhere though.

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    Hundreds meters further north you'll encounter this church whose name I always forget about. Google Maps tells me it's Eglise Saint-Séverin. Fine then! It is the sign you've getting closer to the even more tourist-y areas of Paris...

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    (You're pretty lucky if you get to experience that street being that empty.)

    The narrow streets of St Séverin & co. It was quite empty because I walked through on a weekday morning. But boy this place gets crowded with tourists and opportunistic salespeople alike. Lots of stands selling cheap Paris-marketed stuff as well. Too bad because it is one of the few areas untouched by Baron Haussmann's city planning ambitions. (More on this later.)

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    If for some reason you already miss England, there's still this famous library facing the Seine river a couple of steps east.

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    Rue Galande is another narrow street. However it is generally less busy and chaotic than the others. Plus it has this odd little green-walled house.

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    I strolled a couple of blocks to the east to my next destination: the Collège des Bernardins. A less known case of Gothic architecture than Notre-Dame. It almost feels like some building you would rather see in the countryside. Today it is used as an educational hosting place for religion-related studies. Having been raised in the Intamin faith, I quickly moved on.

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    South of Collège des Bernardins, Rue Monge displays some typical Haussmann-era buildings all around. I like the style, but after 20+ years in Paris, I find it quite monotonous with its shades of beige repeated over and over again. (I promise I won't complain too much about it!)

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    Place Contrescarpe is supposed to be one of the prettier and livelier squares of Paris, but it's currently under construction. Oh well.

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    Further south: yet another narrow street! Rue Mouffetard is known for its lively and youthful nightlife, with pubs and nightclubs aplenty. I was obviously too early for partying though! It is the kind of street you would live in in your twenties before getting tired of all the noise that prevents you from sleeping.

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    The Jardin des Plantes borders the Latin Quarter on the east. I purposely avoided the greenhouses considering it was already quite warm and headed instead towards the hilly and shaded section of the park. I found this bizarre statue on my way, which meaning is left to your imagination...

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    The garden also has a classical, French-style section with its rigid grid-like geometry.

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    Here's the Carrousel mentioned in the title. Themed to animals, it costs €2,50 to ride. You can get a 20-ride ERT for €20 as well! I chose to buy an ice cream instead (not pictured).

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    Finally, I went to this unexpected sight for Paris: its Mosque. Built after WWI as a tribute to muslim soldiers who died fighting for France, I find it quite faithful to Arabic architecture. There's some gardening/fountain stuff and a Tea House inside as well:

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    Would you guess I'm standing in the middle of Paris? Me neither.

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    Going to a Tea House and ordering... coffee. Trololo. The Loukoum pastry-thingy tasted pretty sweet though.


    After that I decided to go home and rest a bit, as the heat was reaching its peak :eek: I hope you enjoyed reading this very long report! If you liked it, I left a poll above for my next sightseeing writing which will be Part 3.

    Part 2 will be a visit to the Foire du Trône, the seasonal Paris fairground!
     
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  2. jayjay

    jayjay Well-Known Member

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    Ooh, interactive trip reports. I like this idea. Voted for quiet streets, because I spent my holiday realising I really like quiet sightseeing.

    Are there any good areas of Paris that are good to visit, but not so popular with tourists? I've seen the usual things (and you can look forward to seeing some cliché Paris pictures in day 17/18 of my trip report :emoji_thumbsup:), though missed the Panthéon. Looks pretty, as seems to be the norm with European churches
     
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  3. Coaster Hipster

    Coaster Hipster Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! Looking forward to your Paris report :) Always nice to read a non-Parisian point of view.

    On the spur, I would say the Promenade Plantée near Gare de Lyon in the 12th District. It's the Paris counterpart to NY's High Line and it's fairly unknown. To be fair it is surrounded by quite mundane blocks of flats and it gets really ordinary towards the end, but you get an unusual view of Parisian architecture.

    The north-east 19th/20th Districts are also much less crowded because they're comparatively badly covered by public transportation. (It is served by Line 7b which is really a secondary line in the Paris Metro, but this has the unique MF88 trains that have a very beautiful motor sound to my eyes :eek: ) You have the Buttes-Chaumont park which is... more of an English-style garden which a more natural and irregular flow, and a lot of terrain. The districts themselves are really uneven when it comes to architecture, but you may find some hidden treasures there such as little houses with a lot of foliage (I might search around for the pictures).

    At the polar opposite, the very upper-class south of the 16th District is usually very quiet too, but quite boring in most places. You will find a little house where Balzac (one of my faves writers) lived with a calm little garden around.

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    Credits: Paris ZigZag (fr)


    Oh and you also have the Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital (in that 13th district you voted for!) which looks very nice too. It is a huge hospital and is (understandably) very quiet. Most contemporary buildings look ugly, but you have some nice foliage and the older architecture feels like classic Paris, without the tourists. The atmosphere is obviously a bit special, but it's one of your best bets if you want typical Paris architecture without the crowds.
     
  4. Pink Cadillac

    Pink Cadillac Well-Known Member

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    I love this idea! I've only spent one day in Paris and had an amazing but brief time. I really want to go back soon, but there is so much to do (as highlighted by this report!) One of my favourite things was seeing all the idealistic Haussmann buildings, so it's a shame you don't like them as much! :) The islamic garden looks cool. Never been in one but I love their use of water. I just looked up the Buttes-Chaumont park and now I must add it to my Paris to-do list. Looking forward to more of these!
     
  5. Coaster Hipster

    Coaster Hipster Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the kind comment! Glad you've had a great time in Paris.

    The same couldn't be said about the fairground I'm about to report though...

    -PART 2: Fairground +1s-

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    La Foire du Trône is the kind of event that, as a Parisian, you know it's there but generally don't bother to visit. It's got an admittedly not-so-good reputation for its affluence and had endured a scary accident lately. I hadn't paid a visit there for over a decade but I was ready to give the fairground a chance. After all, I was hungry for rides after the amazing combo of Phantasialand and Liseberg last month, and I wanted to get some extra video footage for my upstart Youtube channel.

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    This seasonal fairground opens every April-May and is located in the 12th Arrondissement. The Boulevard Poniatowski that borders it on the Northwest is quite ordinary, though I found this nice facade on one building.

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    This was my first sight after crossing the entrance... When planning the trip, I realised I haven't done any creds there before because I was pretty young and not particularly interested in coasters yet at the time of my previous visit. (Shame I know, but apart from Tonnerre de Zeus France had no real reason to become an enthusiast back then) So this visit would be an opportunity to improve my CoasterCount, even though I don't really care that much about my score.

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    Crazy Mouse would be my first ride of the day, and hence my first since an amazing night ride on Helix. I shouldn't make comparisons though: this is a portable Reverchon spinner. You know your lap is going to be painful when the car already rattles on the lift hill. The turns are too tight for my liking and the spinning, activated only during the second half, made me nauseous since they were way too fast. I am not the biggest fan of spinning coasters in the first place, but can still enjoy and tolerate them. However, the poor trackwork and out-of-measure spins made it a really expansive €4 cred. I'm just getting started though...



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    The Wacky Worm ran for three laps on each ride. One was enough for me.



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    I don't even know Taxi Driver's manufacturer. Not that it really matters, but my ride was decent enough with comparatively little vibrations and a drop that is surprisingly steep for a fairground coaster. The lap bars were... literaly lap bars, a very thin metallic T bar that splits your legs. Do not expect foam or something more sophisticated there.



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    Top Spin was a walk-on, however I had to wait for about 10 minutes before the ride started because the operatiors wouldn't activate the thing before the first row was somewhat complete. I don't believe it has a preset program, and the sequence of rotations felt somewhat random and not the most effective. Unfortunately the Huss restraints were really tight and made hangtime quite uncomfortable. It is still a fun attraction though, a bit too extreme for my liking but I'm fine for a one-shot on it.



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    The name may actually be copyrighted by Her Majesty's finest Secret Agent, but Skyfall is quite a good branding for a Freefall. The ride staff was apparently German, barely understanding a word of French and probably took me for a clueless Asian tourist. I was just politely asking where I could lay off my backpack!

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    The ride is your best opportunity to get a nice view of Paris from the fairground. A shame I set up my GoPro facing too much towards the sky. I actually enjoyed the fall a lot :D They actually make the pod stall at the top for a long minute, so your anticipation for the release gets quite high. They do offer a second extra drop for free afterwards, which is a nice touch. It ended up as my favourite ride of the day - not that this means a lot anyways ^^.



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    More credding awaits with Infernal Toboggan. Less comfortable than Taxi Driver with a little rattle, but this has a good pop of airtime after the tunnel! The long helixes that follow afterwards aren't that exciting however.



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    With all other coasters done, it was time to brace myself for the signature cred of the Foire du Trône: the (fittingly-named?) King. It looks nice in still pictures, but waiting in line meant that I witnessed the track scarily shaking sideways à la pre-RMC Rattler. The trains look fairly good with their angular shape. I'm not so complimentary with the hard restraints though, and your seat is definitely narrow, even for a not-so-muscular guy like me.



    It was awful. Probably among my Top 5 worst coasters. The rattles are bad, but some nasty headbanging moments manage to be even worse. Too bad because this Soquet coaster had the potential for a nice drop and fun, thrilling layout. Except that, it is executed so poorly I couldn't help screaming in pain at the worst parts of the ride. It's not even overacting or anything like that, unfortunately! The GP seemed to love it nonetheless, which arguably dashes my hopes for seeing a quality coaster added here anytime soon. Why bother investing in something more costly when the peeps enjoy the cheap stuff?

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    At this time I was all the more convinced this was enough for the day. All those low-end creds gave me a bad headache, and the head and crowds weren't helping either. I went for a walk in the quiter streets nearby.


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    A couple of blocks away, there's a small bridge over the Petite Ceinture (lit. "Small Belt") the city's abandoned railway ring. A place to visit if you're into that type of stuff. I moved on a dozen streetcar stations West to take a preview picture of the 13th Arrondissement. Here's what awaits you in Part 3!

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    (Square Montsouris)


    Needless to say, I'm not going to this fairground in another decade. It is lively and the ops were friendly enough, but the place lacks any charm or quality rides indeed, with the notable exception of Skyfall. I mean, this makes Six Flags America look like a park with a nice and cosy atmosphere! I am not going to complain further though. I think this kind of day is part of an enthusiast's life. It helps you not getting too spoiled with awesome rides, and better appreciate quality coasters that you might get bored of otherwise. So if you got overwhelmed with Top 5 coasters and need a harsh return to reality, this is for you :p


    I haven't closed the poll yet, but most likely Part 3 will cover the 13th District in all its diversity ;)
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2017
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  6. Coaster Hipster

    Coaster Hipster Well-Known Member

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    The poll has now closed! And you have uninamously decided to send me to the 13th Arrondissement :) While Le Marais is a personal favourite of mine, I didn't mind that much taking the other option since the quarter I went to ended up really quiet as intended! Quite a treat on a sunny public holiday really. Anyway, here's my route for the day:

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    Paris's 13th Arrondissement, or "le Treizième" as it is often nicknamed, generally evoke the local Chinatown to most locals' minds. While the tall, ugly but lively block of flats populated by many Asian-origin people make a big part of the district, there's other much more charming and undisturbed zones to discover.


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    My journey began at the Cité Universitaire station. It is named after the group of residences welcoming mostly international students and academics. Since it's actually located in the 14th Arrondissement, I will save my report of this underrated place for later, but this picture tells the location looks pretty!


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    Because le Treizième is somewhat away from the city centre, it has a significant amount of bland residential post WWI buildings which explain why this district is overlooked. However there's also some prettier and more genuine things like this little house.


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    If you liked the house of the previous picture, the Cité Florale is full of them! Lost around ordinary blocks of flats, this network of narrow streets also display some nice greenery here and there. It is also ridiculously emply for a destination only a few minutes away from a well-connected train station. Not that there's anything wrong with that!


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    Between Cité Florale and my next stop I went across more ordinary stuff.

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    Also covering the district is line 6 of the Paris métro. Coupled with line 2 it forms the equivalent of London's central line. Both lines are actually worth a detour since they have some sections of track above ground which is unusual for the métro and excellent to get views of the city. The bridges themselves display some remarkable early 20th century architecture. Though it wasn't necessarily part of the plan, I found myself in front of Le Monde's headquarters. It's France's main "serious" newspaper and like most print newsreads, has experienced quite a decline in viewership.


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    Right out of line 6's Corvisart station, there's a gate under another undistinguised residential building that leads to an also uninteresting garden. Fair to say it's an underwhelming introduction to an actually not-so-bad quarter in Paris.


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    The Butte-aux-Cailles has been described by guides as a "small village in Paris". The comment is mostly accurate. I felt, however, that the place was uneven compared to its reputation. You have some really nice and charming parts, and some other small sections that just look like a dull tiny suburb town. It could just be my spoilt Parisian point of view :p Still worth showing more pictures though:

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    Again, another truly quiet place in Paris :) In the end, I think it looks pretty decent and is a nice idea for a small stroll there if you need to breathe and avoid the tourist crowds.


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    I passed through Place d'Italie, which makes the northwestern tip of Chinatown. I'm not going to show pictures of the latter since it's really the cliché part of the district and not very good looking anyway. The plaza itself is usually busy with traffic, but does have some fancy buildings like the Arrondissement's town hall.


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    The Manufacture des Gobelins can also arguably be considered as fancy architecture. It was initially a carpet workshop supported by the King - back when France was a monarchy, which is quite a long time ago now. It's been transformed as a museum since. There's also a nice little yard inside:

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    I did not bother visiting the museum, and instead chose to continue strolling around.


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    As I walked towards the nearby public garden, I came across some really remarkable older buildings. I don't have enough knowledge in architecture to tell what era and style this is, but maybe another member can tell me!


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    Square Réné-le-Gall was next on my route. It is a small and pleasant, yet overlooked little park which showcases typical French-style gardening.


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    Back again on larger, busier streets and Boulevard Saint-Marcel. It is a faithful display of Haussmann-era buildings, but in a less crowded and cliché part of Paris.


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    Station Saint-Marcel itself has one of the remaining Art Nouveau iconic gauntries.

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    Next to the station Hôpital Pitié-Salpétrière is one of the biggest, if not the biggest hospital in Paris. It has a really eclectic and uneven architecture that spreads over varied centuries. It felt quite weird taking pictures there, it's quite unusual and feels almost inappropriate to do so. A hospital isn't the first place you'd think of when doing some sightseeing.


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    I honestly didn't remember all those brick buildings, but they look much nicer than the contemporary and functional newer ones.


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    It's really silent, as you would expect. I was able to listen to some music without setting my earphone's sound to an unhealthy volume for most of the day actually. I would say it doesn't look as good as I remembered on my last visits there (which weren't for sightseeing...), but I might just be a nit picky Parisian jerk again.


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    The Northeastern part looks very nice though. Good facade and fancy garden.

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    I headed to Gare d'Austerlitz to take my train home. Some of it is being renovated, and the entrance looks messy and not very picturesque. Nonetheless the main canopy roof is an inspiring example of late 19th century architecture. Looks nicer in real life than my picture shows.


    Part 4 will be about the reportedly romantic Saint Martin canal and some industrial courtyards!
     
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  7. Hixee

    Hixee Most Knowledgeable Member 2016 Staff Member Moderator CF Award Winner 2016

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    Some of those suburbs look lovely, especially the buildings in le Treizième with all the plants on them.
     
  8. Coaster Hipster

    Coaster Hipster Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Hixee :)

    -Part 4: Around République and Canal St-Martin-

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    Today's stroll is a noticably shorter than I expected. I want to stick to strictly one district per part, and I felt there wasn't that much to do in the 10è Arrondissement. I was actually even crossing the line with the 9th to fill up this trip!

    My weekly promenade began at Place de la République, which intersects all 3rd, 10th and 11th Districts. This Plaza is a regular meeting point for any union demonstration or left-wing march. Some fine Haussmann buildings all around, but the location feels almost too big and crowded to really look charming.

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    Rue du Faubourg du Temple is your entry point into the more working-class (well, it used to be anyway) sections of north-east Paris.

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    It crosses Rue Yves Toudic which has some more good looking Haussmann-era stuff, which I somehow forgot to take pictures of. Here's a photo of a fancy Boulangerie store I found on some random blog though:

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    Moving further through Rue du Faubourg du Temple. Unlike in America, Many Parisian streets aren't completely straight which makes for interesting perspectives. Also took some photos of a couple of surrounding streets. Note that parts of this streetway still has cobblestone pavement, something which became uncommon after the May 1968 students protests. (Students unfamously threw cobblestones at policemen back then)

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    This was my first sight of Rue Saint-Maur, which was recommended in my old guidebook. It would be decent and pretty enough without the graffiti... Thankfully the rest of the street was arguably cleaner.

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    A few minutes later, I turned right into Rue Sainte-Marthe which displays a fair number of colourful frontages. The stores had the good taste not to use bling logos to ruin the view. It's probably one of the best looking parts of the 10è, which doesn't necessarily says much, but still!

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    The street leads to an eponymous plaza. It's a little more crowded than the paths I've taken right before, but remains relatively quiet nonetheless.

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    A 10-minute walk and I reached the main draw of this district: the Canal Saint-Martin. It has famously featured in the Amélie Poulain movie - which I'm not that much fond of, but is reportedly one of the biggest French movie exports. I have to say the sight of the water canal surrounded by the grown-up trees is quite pleasant.

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    Rue Saint-Poulmarch blends architecture styles from different eras and it doesn't look too out of place. There was actually a political meeting taking place there with Green party leader Yannick Jadot speaking (not pictured), which underlines the left-leaning feelings of this side of Paris.

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    I walked back to the canal which was unsurprisingly packed. I could not get a picture of this barge without getting photobombed!

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    More pictures above and around the canal. Unlike most of the rest of this Arrondissement, it is a good place for a romantic outing imo.

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    The Jardin Villemin nearby looks quite ordinary to me, but brings a nice transition to the Gare de l'Est area:

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    The Eglise Saint-Laurent is your local Gothic church and needs a little more care in my view. The walls are too darkened!

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    The final picture spot before the train station was this building in Rue Sibour which its supposedly Mediterranean facade. Not outstanding by any means, but I'm welcome to unusual sights in Paris!

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    Gare de l'Est is a definite improvement over Austerlitz I visited the previous week. To be fair this station does have high speed TGV services, unlike its Treizième counterpart. The clean, proud facade with some foliage on the balcony is a great way to begin a rail journey!

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    Meanwhile, this little ordinary passageway hides one of the better secret gardens in Paris...

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    The Jardin Saint-Lazare! Part of the Françoise Sagan public library, it was unfortunately closed that day because it was on a Sunday before a public holiday. Damn it!

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    Once again, resorting to web finds to show what it's like. Looks really neat, especially with its palm trees! The irregular path borders make it more interesting too:

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    I ended this stroll with the Marché Saint-Quentin, which was obviously closed as well. The roof could be something more than just entirely flat, but I really like the mixture of brick and steel structure. Thankfully they did not tear down this market!

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    So as you may tell by my less enthusiastic writing, I was not impressed with this Arrondissement as much as the previous two. Apart from the pretty canal, it looks uneven at best, ever oscillating between mundane and fancy. It's actually a little surprising, given that most districts around this one are really nice.


    Anyway, that's it for Part 4! I wasn't able to edit the poll for the district you want me to visit next, so you can vote here in the replies. Your choice is between:

    12th Arrondissement - High Line and Notting Hill in Paris? (also featuring Gare de Lyon)
    19th Arrondissement - Buttes-Chaumont Garden and the secret Villa Mouzaïa (also featuring my favourite Metro line!)
     
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