Sunday, October 23, 2011
Sunning in the City
The last two weekends have been bright and sunny and Parisians are taking full advantage of what may be the last of the season. They're out in the parks and cafés, faces turned to the sun as if storing it for the gray days to come.
Last week we went up to Belleville to see some friends who live just at the top of the Parc de Belleville and spent the afternoon sitting on the terrace of the café at the top of the part of the park in the photo below. We weren't the only ones there and the sun had a chance to shift and hit each of us before we finished our lunch and reluctantly got up to go.
Many others had simply stretched out on the lawns for picnics and naps. This park is really used by the inhabitants of the quartier as well as others who come from farther away for the pretty surroundings and the 180 degree view of Paris from the top.
On our stroll down through the park to the bus stop we came across this church shining in the sun and read the historical information plaque at its base to learn that it was a headquarters for the Commune of 1871 and the priests assigned to it were condemned and executed by the revolutionaries.
It's beautiful city, but there's a lot of blood that's soaked into its soil over the years.
This is the courtyard of our friends' building. Typical of the buildings on the street, it's hidden behind flat and dull facades that give no hint of what's behind. Since this is one of the few affordable areas left in Paris, the apartments are becoming more in demand and consequently prices are rising. Gentrification looms, but the population is still very mixed and kids of all colors were playing in the streets and the park.
By the way, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that one bus will take us all the way from our house to Belleville. Our goal has become to avoid the metro if we possibly can. The buses can be crowded, but not as unpleasantly as the metro, and since we're rarely in a hurry it's our transport of choice.
The gadget on the home page of the transport system, www.ratp.fr, will tell you the way to get where you're going using any mode of transport, at any time of the day, and giving you a choice of fastest, least walking or fewest connections to make. Although it occasional goes bonkers and wants me to go somewhere I know is slightly out of the way, all in all it's a great tool.