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Friday, August 17
We had a long and fascinating walk yesterday, beginning at La Villette.
I'm being totally unfair by showing these two pictures (below, right). La Villette is actually a very large, modern park -- home to a glitzy and huge science museum, as well as a music museum and music institute that are wonders of modern architecture. But I couldn't quite capture those things on camera. La Villette has a large outdoor theater area where there are jazz concerts in July and outdoor movies much of the rest of the year.
The park was built on the site of the old abattoir (slaughterhouse) of the same name. Much of the modern architecture did not appeal to me, but there is a large, open building that remains from the livestock auction house days, and this pretty, old fashioned carrousel. Along the soffits of the old auctionhouse were nesting birds who made their homes out of mud -- really couldn't get a good picture, but there were dozens of these nests stuck to the metal soffit, all inhabited by twittering feathery creatures.
When Napoleon was inaugurated in 1807, this was still a rural area with fields of barley and oats. By 1830, it was a stinking mess of slaughterhouse, sheds, stevedores, and warehouses. These two pictures capture what appears to be the only remnant of what the are must have been like then. Canals unite in this area.
We walked from here down along the Canal de l'Ourcq and to the bridge called Crimée.
|We were delighted to see this side of the canal turned into a bikeway. Nice street lamps, too. The little sign you see on one of the lamps is a reminder to dog owners to pick up after their dogs. Parisians do, indeed, need to be constantly reminded of this -- but the streets are gradually getting cleaner and more "merde"-free. Here again you see the unfortunate high-rises of the 19th arrondissement.
|At the bridge over the canal at Crimée stands this converted warehouse. There used to be one just like it on the other side. That one was used as artists studios until it mysteriously burned in 1986. The skeleton of the building remained for several years, and people hoped it would be restored. Eventually, however, it was demolished -- and wait till you see what's there now. (coming up)
|But first this bridge at Crimée. One of my guidebooks (Vallois) says that it is a hydraulic drawbridge that was built in 1883 and required a mere 4-kg weight to set it in motion.
|Here the traffic is stopped and the bridge is being lowered back into place.
|Like other bridges over the canals, this one likely was operated by a person until recent years, and now is likely automatically controlled. That would explain why the little building by the bridge is boarded up and unoccupied.
|On the other side of the bridge is a square called Place de la Bitche.
the square is the church of Saint Jacques and Saint Cristophe, built in the 1840s.
Behind the church is a paved area called Place de Joinville. There is a lively North African market here on certain days. We saw workers sweeping up after the market had closed.
|More August 17 . . . .
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