A Path Through the Rooftops

12th Arrondissement, Paris, France

Transport yourself back to the early twentieth century.  Paris celebrates a period of enlightenment, political progress and exceptional beauty.  The artists and philosophers who will come to define Parisian ideals spend their time in the open air cafes lining the wide, clean boulevards, and Haussmann's iconic designs for the city have nearly reached completion.

Already considered an international city, Paris is connected to other European ports by train.  On a smaller scale, residents can board a train that runs along an elevated track between the slate colored rooftops and churches.  

Fast forward seventy years.  The modern metro system has become the most reliable form of transportation in Paris, and steam engines have long since disappeared.  The elevated train tracks have fallen out of use, and they will remain at the mercy of vandals and vagrants for the next fifteen years, forgotten by the rest of the city. 

In the early 1980s, two landscape architects undertook the enormous task of transforming the railroad into the world's first elevated park, a project that wouldn't reach completion until 1993.

Today, the elevated railway is a unique and lovely park that runs from the ruins of the old Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes.  It ducks in and out of different neighborhoods, passing above quaint cafes, church squares, elementary schools and shopping districts.  You can catch views of the same slate colored rooftops that the Parisian philosophers once enjoyed, all those years ago, when the railroad was still in use, when the air was filled with the smoke of a steam engine, and World War I was still just a vague rumor.

Advice for Visiting la Promenade Plantée // 

* As with most Parisian parks, you should go on a weekday, preferably in the morning.  

* Bring a book and a snack, because there are a lot of benches throughout the park.  

* The beginning of the path is rather difficult to find, so you should bring a map.  

* Wear good shoes, so you can walk the entire thing in an afternoon.