In 1969, the train line from Bastille to Vincennes was closed down, but the path taken by the line still exists, and is now the Coulée Verte. It’s a 4.7km trail which runs from the old station in Bastille (now the Opéra) to the Bois de Vincennes further east. The route is lined with a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers, which look fantastic now the spring is in full flow.
Fun fact: the Coulée Verte inspired the New York City ‘High Line’!
I walked the route with my friend, Connie, from Vincennes, and given it was a lazy Sunday afternoon, the path wasn’t as busy as I expect it would be on a different day, which meant there were fewer passers-by getting in the way!
The path links a few of Paris’ public gardens, such as the Jardin de Reuilly, which you can walk over (yes, over!)
It also takes you through some of the high-rise apartments which have been built around the pathway, which I found quite amusing!
The old viaduct that was part of the rail line has now become the Viaduct des Arts, home to a wide variety of high quality, artisan craftsmen and women. We chose to carry on walking along the path on top of the viaduct. I think this was my favourite section of the entire walk. There were trees, floral arches, benches for a quick stop, and a long series of ponds down the centre.
The walk also takes you onto street level occasionally, especially when you get closer to Bastille, but even then, they’re pretty good areas. This one had a fountain, and there was a small park next to it with a children’s play area and even more flowers and shrubs.
It was also really great to see the buildings of Paris from a whole new angle. Every now and then, the elevated portions of the path would intersect with some streets below and from here, I got a great view of the unique style of architecture that Paris is renowned for.
The sun began to set as we were nearing the end of the walk, providing really great light and shadows on the streets below.
I’m so glad I decided to take the time to make this walk, and I can’t stop raving about it to my friends now. It’s great that you can hop on and off the route at any time via any of the many staircases that dot the path. Sometimes I forgot I was even in Paris, it was so far removed from anything I’ve experienced in the city thus far. I mean, look at this:
I, for one, would not look at this and think ‘This is Paris’. It is so enclosed and private, and a world away from the bustle. I will definitely be returning here, maybe stop there for a whole afternoon to read my book. Only if the weather’s good though.
How to get there
- Metro to Ledru-Rollin (line 8) and then walk to the start point at the corner of Rue de Lyon and Avenue Daumesnil
- Bus 29 to Porte de Montempoivre – this stop is right next to the entrance to the Coulée Verte
- Metro to Saint-Mandé (line 1) and walk (15mins) to the start point on Avenue Emile Laurent