Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday 23 September - Paris Trams and Parks

I decided to change my shirt today.  The buff one which I have worn since leaving Ottawa was replaced with a red one.  I washed it each night and will now probably alternate the two.  I also had on a clean pair of pants and washed the old pair.

We first went to the Gare Saint Lazaire and admired the beautiful restoration that has been completed.  Even the girl in the SNCF ticket office where I made the reservations for the trip to Reims on Tuesday thought it was the best in Paris.  It seems there is a preserved women's prison in the basement.
The restored concourse at Saint Lazare is magnificent.
There are still some old locomotives to be seen at Saint Lazare.
This section of the station was not being used to allow engineering work.  This gave a clear view of the train shed which is not normally available.
The trip to La Defence was quite quick but we were unable to make it to the outside as they close several of the exits on weekends.  The tram to Porte de Versailles was very pleasant, one feature I noticed was the use of a form of ground cover rather than grass in between the rails.  It could well be cost effective as, being low growing, it does not need to be mowed.  While waiting for the T4 tram I helped a Mexican couple and their daughter - they were at the Porte de Versailles and were looking for the Chateau.  I had to explain that this wasn't the right place and then showed them how to get to the Chateau.

From the end of the T4 we took the metro to the Gare de Lyon for a sandwich break and a quick look around.  Of course it was almost exclusively TGVs.
This is the cat from the Train Bleu restaurant which seems to have been able to get through the revolving doors.
It was owned by one of the chefs but when the chef left the cat decided to stay.
The RER took us to Saint Denis and tram T1.  This was quite an experience.  These trams are not very large and it was completely full.  At one point people were left behind because they simply couldn't get in.  There were a number of Sunday street markets and these would have been part of the draw.  The trams were running at five minute intervals and still had trouble.  Several people were munching roasted corn cobs, a very popular street food this time of year.  The smell of roasted corn permeated the tram.
At Noisy le Sec.  They couldn't get the trams away fast enough.
A lot of people got off the RER and ran across the tracks to get on the tram at left.  The driver then announced that he was having a problem and everyone would have to go on to the one on right.  There was a great movement accompanied by cries "Tu blagues" and everybody rushed across the tracks, including several stout ladies who had to use the rails as a step. Shades of the Jacques Tati movie "Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot".
A short trip on the RER took us to Bondy and the T3 tram train to Aulnay sous Bois.  This has a train feel to it, the cars are different and, being SNCF, a different fare structure applied.

RER back to Gare du Nord.  I was disappointed to find that the small bar area at the entrance to the customs area for Eurostar has been taken over by Eurostar so it is not possible to sit down and have a view over the concourse.

Metro back to Levis and after a short break it was out again to see Monceau and Square des Batignoles Parks.  Both were very full.  Monceau was full of groups playing games, kids on scooters etc.  There was a long line up for the donkey rides.  The entrance to Batignoles was filled with a flea market which drew the crowds and was doing a good business.  In the park itself, the old ladies were sunning themselves on the benches in one area while the young family groups were closer to the lake.  A warden was keeping people off the grass in some prohibited areas with a loud blast of his whistle.  The men were playing petanque at the other end.  Different strokes for different socio economic groups.
Even a couple of women were playing petanque.
Dinner at D-1 was excellent.  It is very much a local bar with men coming in for a Ricard shaking hands, singing along to the music etc.  Great fun.

Click here to see all pictures taken of Paris trams

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