|Santa comes to the rue de Levis.|
|The oyster sellers are out in full.|
I was up late this morning and didn't get to La Chapelle until 1130 only to find out that the new trams would not start until 1300 or a little after. I decided to take the metro back the way I had come all across Paris to Porte de Versailles, take tram 3a to Porte d'Ivry and ride the new line north to La Chapelle.
All went well as far as Montparnasse when there was an announcement that we should all leave the train because a passenger had been taken ill. Everyone promptly left the train which took off. Another train arrived 2 minutes later and everyone got on as if nothing had happened.
The T3a trams were running over the new section to Porte de Vincennes already. According to the literature they had started today as well The tram was full and there was two rows of small boys standing up against the glass watching the driver. At Porte de Vincennes the new T3b trams start across the street from the T3a and there is a convenient underpass which is also the entrance to the metro line 1. I arrived at 1315 and no trams were visible. A full one arrived shortly after and this might just have been the first one from Porte de la Chapelle so I might have caught the first one out of Porte de Vincennes.
It was very full with many taking advantage of the free travel over the new line. All along the route there were bands and drummers and RATP staff were giving out leaflets and free passes good in zones 1 and 2 for the weekend. The kids were supplied with plastic wrist bands and key holders. An 8-year old with his mother excitedly showed me all his goodies - they were going to the Museum of Science and Industry which is on the new line.
|Possibly the first tram on line T3b arriving at Porte de Vincennes|
There were a lot of people out, many with cameras, to see the new trams on their first day. But there were also many regular shoppers with their children using the trams as a good substitute for the buses. Although they were running at 4 - 5 minute intervals all the trams were full and standing and many were left behind at the intermediate stops. The line runs mostly in the middle of wide streets with much use of grass between the rails and well laid stone at many of the stations.
|Entertainment at Porte de la Chapelle|
|A tram ready to depart Porte de la Chapelles for Porte de Vincennes. The line of buses on the right provides good connections.|
I went through, standing, to Porte de la Chapelle but managed to find a seat there for the return to Porte de Vincennes. I had planned to stop off on the way back but having scored a seat I decided to stay on all the way back to Porte de la Vincennes. One of the wheels had a flat. The RATP has been running tests for several months now and it may be an indication that there are braking problems on some of the severe gradients. One station is built on a hill and passengers are warned about this. I saw one of the new water fountains commissioned by the city for this tramway. Several people were clustered around it with curious looks on their faces. Just below Porte de Bagnolet a cafe has been (re)named "Le Tramway". The local businesses are very supportive. Metro line 1 was a quick and easy way to get back to the apartmen changing to line 2 at Etoile. I rode at the back of one of the automatic trains where you can look back and see the next train coming behind.
We used our free RATP passes to get to La Rech, an excellent seafood restaurant by Alain Ducasse in the rue des Ternes. The meal was faultless. We started with amuses gueules then sea urchin on grey mullet carpagio.
|Risotto with spiny artichoke and some sort of foam|
|Sea bass with vegetables|
An excellent Camembert.
|Meringue and hazelnut ice cream with chocolate sauce - vacharin style|
The front is quite unassuming - it being taken up with an oyster bar.
An old school friend, Rob Carter, recommended La Rech. I always remember Rob as the winger on the rugby team - give him the ball and he would thrust out his chin, shut his eyes and run like h-- for the line. Now I can also think of Rob as a culinary expert.
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