In 1969, the steam engines on avenue Daumesnil’s viaduct whistled their last and the train-line between Bastille and Vincennes closed forever. While the Bastille station was eventually replaced by today’s Opera house, the viaduct was converted into glass-fronted workshops and boutiques for local artisans (the Viaduct des Arts, still there today), and the old lines became La Coulée Verte – a 5km long trail (also known as the Promenade Plantée), made up of elevated gardens, the Jardin de Reuilly and tree lined cycling paths.
Start at the Bastille end and climb up one of the staircases on avenue Daumesnil to the elevated gardens to get a new perspective of the city. Nosy parkers will be in their element as you can glimpse into people’s apartments along the way. You’ll also notice architectural features not obvious from ground level, such as the gigantic 1930’s style muses decorating the Police station.
To make a day of it, pack a picnic and stop in the Jardin de Reuilly, where you can wash your sandwiches down with sparkling water from Paris’s first public fizzy water fountain; or carry on to the Bois de Vincennes, with its lakes and tree-shaded parkland.