And to think that the Canal St Martin was almost paved over
The tenth arrondissement is located on the Right Bank in northeastern Paris. Its land area is slightly more than 1.1 square mile (a bit less than 3 square kilometers). Its population is slightly under ninety thousand and offers about seventy-two thousand jobs. Two of its major attractions are railway stations. If you haven’t seen a grandiose railway station such as in Europe or Manhattan’s Grand Central Station, you really should visit some of Paris’s offerings such as described below.
This arrondissement is not particularly well-known to tourists. However, if you visit here you may get a feel for the real Paris, the Paris of Parisians. You might start by viewing the Canal Saint-Martin, which links the Seine River with northeastern Paris. This 2.8 mile (4.5 kilometer) long canal was built from 1806 to 1825 under the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte. Believe it or not, in some places it is only about three feet (one meter) deep. It came close to disappearing in the 1960s and might have become just another highway. While there is some canal traffic, mostly it’s a place to view the boats and the locks. Recently the neighborhood has become trendy. In 1938 the Canal Saint-Martin was featured in the famous movie Hôtel du Nord. And in 2001 it was once again featured in the movie Amélie. The nearby streets are car-free for the later part of Saturday and all day Sunday giving the area a unique cachet.
The Gare de l'Est (East Station) is one of the largest and the oldest railway stations in Paris serving approximately 34 million passengers per year pass through the Gare de l'Est per year, making it the fifth-busiest station in Paris. I wonder how many of these passengers have seen the beautiful statue representing the city of Strasbourg at the west end of the station and how many have seen the statue representing the city of Verdun at the east end of the station. It’s a magnificent building with lovely artwork throughout. For example, the arcade includes representations of agricultural products and the coat of arms of over thirty cities in eastern France. The ticketing hall includes a large painting of soldiers leaving in 1914 for the Great War. Both these cities are served by this station, first opened in 1849. Perhaps its most famous train was the Orient Express to Istanbul, first opened in 1883. Times have changed and the Orient Express no longer serves Paris or Istanbul. But some of the new lines are scheduled to run at almost two hundred miles (three hundred twenty kilometers) an hour and later almost ten per cent faster. The station is undergoing extensive renovation; for example, removing ugly plastic that covered beautiful marble for decades.
The Gare du Nord (North Station) handles about 180 million travelers a year, making it the busiest station in Europe, and the third busiest railway station in the world. It was first built in 1846 but already partially demolished in 1860 to permit extensive expansion. The old façade is now in the northern city of Lille. The new, mid-1860s, Neoclassical railway station includes 23 statues representing destinations, the international destinations are more imposing than the national ones. The station was expanded several times and is served by several subway lines. In 2007 the station was the site of a riot involving several hundred people that lasted for eight hours. This station has appeared in several French films, for instance in Les Poupées russes (The Russian Dolls) and American movies such as The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Ultimatum, and Ocean's Twelve.
Some of the other sights to see in this district are the Porte Saint Denis and Porte Saint Martin erected by order to Louis XIV to celebrate military victories, the Musée de l'Eventail (Fan Museum), Musée de Cristal de Baccarat (Baccarat Crystal Museum), and, for a change of pace, the Place du Colonel Fabien, headquarters of the French Communist Party designed by a famous Brazilian (Communist) architect, Oscar Niemeyer, named in honor of a resistance hero of World War II. A more traditional Place (Square) is the Place de la Republique that is often the site of political or other demonstrations.
Of course you don’t want to be in Paris without sampling fine French wine and food. In my article I Love French Wine and Food – A Midi Merlot I reviewed such a wine and suggested a sample menu: Start with Roque Anchois (Anchovies with Tomato, Spices, Vinegar, and Olive Oil). For your second course savor Tagine de Lotte (Monkfish Stew). And as dessert indulge yourself with Crème Catalan (Crème brûlée with Orange Flower and Aniseed). Your Parisian sommelier (wine steward) will be happy to suggest appropriate wines to accompany each course.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would
rather just drink fine French or other wine, accompanied by the right foods.
He knows what dieting is, and is glad that for the time being he can eat and drink
what he wants, in moderation. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario
French-language community college. His central website is
www.wineinyourdiet.com devoted to the health and nutritional aspects of wine and its place in your weight-loss program. Visit his global wine site www.theworldwidewine.com and his other websites devoted to Italian wine, Italian travel, and Italian food.
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