Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Paris, June 2007, La Defense, Citroën Parc & Les Deux Margot

We woke to a clear warm sunny day and immediately decided, after finishing our
petit dejeuner (breakfast), we'd set out for Parc André Citroën.

Our home exchange friends had informed us of a new tram system from the 15e and we decided to give it a try, so with our carte orange (transportation passes) in hand we walked to the station and hopped on board. The ride was smooth, quick and air conditioned. It was also all above ground, which gave us a great opportunity to check out the neighborhood we rode through.

We were surprised to find the area surrounding the Parc André Citroën, as well as the park itself, to be exceptionally contemporary in design. Most buildings were of a glass and metal structure--very modern indeed and a stark contrast to Paris in general. The park was expansive, green and nearly treeless, save for a scant few trees here and there. Boy, was it hot! We walked down a wide stark walkway to watch some people taking balloon rides and the full sun was a bit much for us. To our delight, however, we found a nice young woman with a kiosk who was selling some refreshing and delicious fresh fruit gelato. It really did hit the spot.

We walked through the park, spending approximately an hour there checking out the various themed gardens and structures, then wound our way through some shadier gardens at the edge of the park. From there we walked toward the Seine and down the Quai André Citroën along the Port de Javel. We eventually wound up in the 6th Arrondissement and stopped at Les Deux Margot for an apéritif. It was nice to sit in the shade with a cool drink. With all the concrete and tall buildings of Paris, even 78 degrees can feel more like 90. We were definitely spent, and decided to take the rest of the afternoon to read, upload photographs to our laptop and stroll out during the evening for a nice dinner at a neighborhood Italian restaurant recommended by our friends (exchangers).

The next day we took the Métro from the 15e to La Defense. What a treat! We were blown away by the giagantic size and architecture of the commercial buildings we encountered. They were all massive and constructed of reflective glass and metal. A feeling of youth took us as we noted so many young suited professional men and women moving about the massive quad area of the district. It was clear to us that this was the financial hub of Paris and it was a buzz with business.

After touring buildings and enjoying the amazing architecture and sculptures, we settled in for a nice lunch with a crisp healthy green salad and piping hot thin crust vegetarian pizza. We decided on a glass of wine each and enjoyed the busy atmosphere of the restaurant where many business people were chatting away about anything but business. The French don't mix business with pleasure, so dining is a time to simply enjoy the fine cuisine and camaraderie.

As we stood on the top step of the Grand Arche, we could see the Arc de Triomphe of equal size at the far end of the open span from La Defense to Champs Elysées. It was quite impressive.

We spent most of the day exploring the area, then caught a Métro ride back to the 15e. We picked up a roasted chicken and some vegetables, a baguette of freshly baked french bread and a couple of lemon tarts at our favorite places in the 15e and then settled into our apartment to rest for the evening. We hadn't eaten in during the past few days, and it felt wonderful.

We actually spent the evening talking about what we'd seen so far and whether there was anything else that we might want to explore while in Paris. For some reason we wound up talking about suburbs and what might be worth pursuing. Since our exchange couple had offered us use of their car, we decided to explore a bit of the Loire Valley, south of Paris. Doug made reservations at an old domaine--now a luxury hotel--and the next morning we planned an early escape to the countryside where castles and moats awaited our exploration.

Below you'll find some photos of our adventures for the past couple of days. Enjoy!

Our Waiter Takes A Break And Chats With Friends

We Stop For An Apéritif At Les Deux Margot
Note The Dapper Frenchman Reading His Paper While
Enjoying An Apéro

We Find A Lovely Park With A Fountain and Rose Garden

An Impressive Sculpted Garden On The Other Side Of The Grand Arch
Of La Defense

Every Neighborhood Has An Oven With The Delicious
Herbed Mouth-Watering Chickens Roasting While Releasing
Their Juices Onto A Bed Of Vegetables As They Also Roast

The Impressive Interior Of The Grande Arche

Crowds Multiply During The Lunch Period As Actors
Entertain A Crowd In The Quad

We Had An Excellent Lunch Here

Le Grande Arche, An Amazing Structure

La Defense, A Vast Contemporary Commercial District
Where The Air Is Electric With Progress

A Cloudless Paris Summer Day, Emphasizes
The Eiffel And Statue Of Liberty

As A Former Californian, I Couldn't Resist This Photo!

The Citroën Parc Balloon Is Visible From A Bridge Over The Seine

The Resident Juggler At Citroën Parc

Only Visible Shade Tree Draws A Crowd At Citroën Parc
Contemporary Commercial Structures Abut Citroën Parc

Another Modern Exhibition Building In Citroën Parc

Up, Up and Away! Tethered Balloon Rides At Citroën
Provide An Excellent View Of The Seine And Beyond

Unlike Luxembourg Gardens, Citroën Parc Is Void Of Shade Trees
However, To Our Delight, That Is A Gelato Vendor Under
The White Umbrella On the Top Right!

This Brand New Modern Tram Carried Us To The Neighborhood of Citroën Parc

A Modern Hospital Near Citroën Parc

A Real Contrast To Old Paris--A Commercial Building Near Citroën Parc

Next post: A Side Trip To The Loire Valley

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