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When a couple of friends mentioned that they had been to Canal Saint-Martin last weekend, I didn’t know what it was. It was then brought to my attention that, not only do I live just a few blocks away from it, I have probably inadvertently walked over, around, and beside it many times over the course of the last month without even knowing it was something special. When I realized I’d been missing out, I went back to look more closely.

I haven’t seen the extent of the canal (parts of it have been covered over by one of Paris’ great boulevards, only to resurface again a bit north of where I live) but I had a nice evening enjoying the segment close by.

The area across the canal is a lovely park full of people resting and reading on the banks, drinking coffee and chatting at the little cafe, or watching their children play on the playgrounds.

A bronze woman posing in the gardens along the canal

View of the Bastille monument through the arbor

Not too far from where the canal meets Place de la Bastille and begins its journey underground, an old train viaduct has been converted into a walkable greenway that runs nearly 3 miles through eastern Paris. The first few times I walked by it at street level, I didn’t even realize that one could go up on top. It was only after seeing a dad-daughter pair struggling up the steps with their roller blades on that I decided I might follow them up and see what was worth all that effort.

The Plantee, 2 stories above street level. A flight of stairs is almost like wandering into another world.

Just over the course of the last week, Paris has begun to adopt that rather bleak, wintertime look. The sun is still shining and the air is comfortable, but things are already shifting from green to brown and flowers occur much less frequently.

There are still plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine, though. I seriously didn’t realize how many green spaces Paris had until I took this walk. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like a rat in a maze, lost among the buildings, so even a little bit of grass does wonders.

You can almost forget you’re in a city.

At the end of the walk, the path reduced to gravel and these little community garden plots started popping up. Check out the smiling vegetables on the tool building. This area is also dedicated to allowing a natural ecosystem to flourish–that splotchy grass next to the garden? They had a little plaque posted up labeling that their “prairie.” I give them credit for trying.

Fall flowers in bloom

I really wanted to get out of Paris this weekend (not to go very far, just far enough to escape the suffocation of city living), but since that didn’t happen, this little walk did the trick to leaving me feel refreshed and a little bit more balanced.

**note::I owe you guys a post about last weeks cooking, the hold-up is that my camera batteries died in class, and I’m waiting for a friend to email me the picture she took of my dish so I can add it to the post. My intention is to write a weekly food wrap-up post every Friday or Saturday, unfortunately this one is just a bit late!***