Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Walk 20: La Route des Manifs: Canal Saint-Martin, République, Bastille, Viaduc des Arts

Remember that scene in Amelie where they introduce each character by showing you their likes and dislikes? And remember how Amelie likes skipping stones at the Canal Saint-Martin? That's where this is:

Gross. Having been in Paris then, during what is surely its ugliest season, and seeing it now, as it's just beginning to blossom into Spring, I don't want to leave. Suddenly there are leaves on all of the trees, water gushing from every fountain, and sunlight streaming through my window in the morning. It is simply glorious.

But on to something more grisly. La Place de la Bastille is the site of the prison that was stormed on July 14, 1789, during the French Revolution. The prison is no longer standing (those revolutionaries and their destructive tendencies, again), but in its place is this, the Genie of Liberty.

Ready for the grisly part? In the base of the column are the remains of 500 victims of the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 (the overthrows of Charles X and Louis-Philippe, respectively). The French have some strange ideas about honoring their dead. If you don't believe me, ask me about the Incorruptible Saints or the Catacombs.

And, lastly, this is the Viaduc des Arts.

I love it. It was originally the base of a railroad, but has spent the last 15 or so years housing various artisan shops. Amazing artisan shops. I saw a chandelier that was in the shape of a ship, complete with masts. Think Peter Pan. I went into a store devoted entirely to cross-stitching, and watched from the window of another as a sculptor blew glass. I really feel like Paris takes more pride in their shopping than we do. Maybe that sounds frivolous, but it's not. Parisians want the best, so, here, they make the best.

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