railway line that encircles Paris is being transformed into an enchanting
flora- and fauna-rich walkway – much like Paris’ Promenade
Plantée near Bastille or the High Line
in New York.
Petite Ceinture (The Small Belt) was built to connect Paris’ major train
stations during the 19th Century, operating first as a passenger
railway and then as a freight railway, until it closed entirely two decades
ago. Since then, flora has sprung up along the embankments, ballast, bridges
and walls, creating meadows, wasteland and wooded areas in which a vast range
of animals live: there are 220 species of plants and animals, including bees,
butterflies, toads, hedgehogs, French oaks and sycamores, and 21 bird species,
including the endangered spotted fly catcher. Central to the project’s concept
is the preservation of both the site’s historical railway heritage and its unique
900m section of walkway, opened to the public on 24 August and to be extended
later in the year, is located between the Georges
Brassens and André
Citroën parks in the 15th arrondissement. The pathway is accessible during the day (for
ecological reasons, no lights were added along the railway) with access via
lift or stairway at rue Olivier de Serres.
Laidlaw is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.