If months were people, June would be the blond ringlet-headed child with rosy cheeks who just plain refuses to go to bed as they’re too busy seeing all of the fairytale beauty in the world to worry about sleep. In adult terms, we might describe this month as the ‘dirty stop-out’, being the proud owner of the year’s longest day and therefore a devilish persuader for the world to stay up late (northern hemisphere at least) and shun the comfort of the interior.
June sucked when we were kids and we were forced to imprison ourselves in our beds when the night stubbornly refused to call an end to playtime at a decent hour. But as grown-ups the good news is we get to reap the benefits of that childhood injustice and enjoy gentle sun-filled evenings that continue long into the normal twilight extending past 9pm and beyond.
If we’re talking about s t r e t c h i n g out the fun, then your time is best spent using a bonus evening to walk the length of La Coulée Verte (or La Promenade Plantée as it was), a green slither of nature extending from near Bastille in the 12th arrondissement right up to the périphérique. Take a look on the nearest map of the city to hand and pinpoint that belt of green snaking across the page – bet you never noticed that before.
What to do with a redundant railway line is undoubtedly an ancient conundrum since we’re so intent on constructing new ones these days, but that’s exactly the problem the city planners of Paris had on their plates after the old train line connecting Bastille and Vincennes was closed in 1969. Happily back in those days greedy developers with euro signs for eyes weren’t quite as quick off the mark as they are now, and there was plenty of time to consider what to do with the unused land. Plans for a huge slip ‘n’ slide were hastily rejected, and an idea to build the world’s largest horizontal bungee alley was too quickly dispensed with.
At first culture won out and in 1984 at the western end the old Bastille station was razed to make room for the new opera building. By the late 80s the development of the rest of the stretch was underway as nature took control, and the full 4.7km was eventually inaugurated in 1993, providing the residents of Paris with a delightful slice of green to enjoy for when the hour calls for a genteel promenade.
The western end stands tall 10 metres above street level trailing along Avenue Daumesnil nestled atop the renovated arches of the Viaduc des Arts where you’ll find eye-watering home decor shops ready to suck your cash. I prefer to rise above such temptation and stroll amongst the elegant greenery and appreciate the intricate trellises and climbing plants, delicate rose gardens, water features and manicured shrubs, trying not to get in the way of the generous dusting of joggers who adore the structure’s linear form.
The middle of the corridor offers a perfect picnic spot in the Jardin de Reuilly and a return to ground level, and the path continues via the Allée Vivaldi slicing through a collection of modern buildings. Heading further out of the centre and sculpted becomes wild as the bushes become denser, higher and more unkempt, concealing any smudges of urban tableau that try to peep through. If pleasant meandering isn’t enough, there’s atheletic equipment dotted around for anyone to use, and this part of the route opens its arms to dogs and cyclists.
So, it would be rude not to take a wander when the late hours are so welcoming and the daylight isn’t so pressed to leave us. ‘The night is full of terrors’ said that crazy woman on Game of Thrones. Not at the moment it isn’t luv, in June, as Louis said, it’s a wonderful world.
PS. In the spirit of turning old disused things into windows of lush green paradise, here’s how the grand renovations happening at Granny Flat are progressing…