the last visible dog (intertext) wrote,
the last visible dog

Beating the Heat, and even the Lonely Planet Gets it Wrong Sometimes

Friday was another sunny day, but very humid, so rather warm. I was tired and feeling slightly "coldy" when I woke up, so I thought I'd have a fairly quietish day. I decided to take myself off to the Canal St Martin area, which the Lonely Planet mini-guide that my friend Jen lent me describes as having "shady tree-lined paths" where you can "stroll" along the canal and which is supposedly filled with trendy boutiques and cafes. Oh and they also said that it was particularly fun at night.

Well. First of all, they list three metro stops to access the area, roughly in a line from south to north. So I thought I would go to the southernmost one and work my way up, particularly as they showed a shopping area and a cafe of interest at the half-way point. I discovered, 4k of walking later, that the only even vaguely interesting part was around the northernmost stop and actually seemed to stretch north from that, not really even the St Martin part of the canals at all. Not only that, but the area around the southernmost stop was sketchy to the extreme. The pathway isn't accessible all the way up - you have to keep either crossing back and forth over the canal or going over onto streetways, mostly to avoid the block long "tent cities" set up on clear patches. This was the first time I have felt even slightly nervous in Paris, but I did feel quite uncomfortable despite a fairly heavy police presence up and down. Walking through that neighbourhood at night would be foolhardy.

And maybe it's gone severely downhill since that guidebook was written, but if you're looking for Paris' version of the Camden Lock, you'll be seriously disappointed. There was one trendy store - a bigger Antoine et Lili than the one in Montmartre - and one cafe on the way up that looked quite nice. At the top, there were two American style cafes that serviced a big cinema complex and were obviously popular with teenagers, but effectively that was it, unless I was looking in quite the wrong place. Oh well! I had a good walk, and saw the canals and something of how reality bites Paris as well. And I bought a little present for someone at the Antoine et Lili, so that was good.

As I wasn't going to linger there, I took the metro from the northernmost stop (Leningrad) down to the Sorbonne district and from there over to the Luxembourg gardens, which were big, formal, and crowded with people eating icecream and sitting in the shade. The best part was that there was an exhibit of contemporary art celebrating "women" on at the Orangery there, which was free, so I went a checked it out, and in its honor there were artistic installations throughout the gardens. All the statues of women had some kind of decoration - I was particularly taken with one that had a huge spiderweb attached from it to two nearby trees. Another was buried up to her neck in leaves. Another was wearing a huge cape decorated with tarot cards.

So, after hanging out in the gardens, looking at some nifty artwork and generally trying and failing to keep cool, I headed homeward to my blessedly cool apartment. Later in the evening a huge thunderstorm erupted, with an accompanying downpour of rain.

This morning bids fair again, but I think I shall have (again) a fairly quiet day. My only plan is to hit Place Vendome and the Place Madeleine for some shopping. Much is likely to be closed tomorrow - which will be my last day :( - so any last minute shopping needs to be done today. I still haven't bought my quintessential Paris shoes, so I'm on a quest today.
Tags: paris

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