'Salt Marshes' At Trocadéro

photo: canal st martin

The Canal Saint-Martin, looking towards Jaurés.

The 'Beach' At La Villette

Paris:- Friday, 18. June 1999:- There is supposed to be some sort of beach at La Villette, but I don't make it that far today. I got to the 'salt marshes' at Trocadéro on Wednesday, but I found these to be less than stunning.

This is my fault, most likely. While trying to get myself an apartment in Paris, I am riding the métro more than usual. The métro itself is a great source of information with all its billboards and posters everywhere; riding the underground trains is a constant bombardment of information.

The RATP has added to this with its weekly métro paper 'A Nous Paris.' I found a new copy at the beginning of the week and it was from this that I learned about the 'salt marshes' at Trocadéro andphoto: rollers at trocadero about 'Paris-Plage' at La Villette. Since I don't know where the apartment search will take me, and I have to be nimble, I have made no concrete plans for any feature this week. I hope I will 'pick something up' on the fly.

With its top deck closed, roller-space at Trocadéro is somewhat restricted.

Fly I did, through some interesting parts of Paris. I had to make a quick trot down almost the entire length of the Rue de Charonne from the edge of the 11th arrondissement, almost to Bastille. At its western end, it abruptly turns south and ends at the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Just before the end, the Rue de Lappe runs off to the right, to Rue de la Roquette.

When I saw this I remembered that the Café de la Danse is in an alley off Lappe, so I went along it to see how it looks. This is an area of many bars, cafés and DJ joints, but the Café de la Danse looks like a converted automobile garage from the outside. A glance inside revealed only gloom, just after a very bright midday.

From here, I go the rest of the way on Lappe to Roquette, and then follow it into the Place de la Bastille. This is probably its most attractive entrance, with all the terrace cafés on the triangle corner between Roquette and the Boulevard Richard Lenoir. It is a place requiring hours of study; maybe days, perhaps years.

Bastille has other decent spots, but it has its deserts too - where it is too open and too big and too bright, like it was on - it was on Tuesday.

If you get away from where Rue de la Roquettephoto: salt makers at trocadero enters the place, then you have to go all around it - a considerable distance - to find a branch of my bank, and it turns out to be a block off, to the west.

The 'harvesting' of salt is a bit more interesting than seeing it mined - underground.

I went an estate agent on the Boulevard de Charonne, where I had a date to see an apartment. When I arrived, it was gone. She phoned, she said, but nobody answered. I was home and the phone didn't ring. As I was there anyway, I took a look around and this brought me to a place that manages apartments, and this place sent me down the Rue de Charonne, to catch another agent before closing for lunch.

This one had an apartment available and a date was made for Wednesday to see it. When I arrived, it turned out to be next door to the apartment-management place, which is where I started from the day before.

The building was interesting and it was clean inside and the stairs were in good shape. The apartment was bare - nothing built-in - and it had an odd half-room, one window wide at one end and slightly larger at the end by its door. In agent-speak, it was a bonus extra half-room; but to me it was a subtraction from the two principal rooms. Another minus point was the lack of any basement storage space.

But I want to get this over with in a hurry and I figure I can accommodate myself to it, so I agree on it. My references need to be checked; the agent says she'll call me.

The weather is really bright and I decide to look the neighborhood over, especially down towards the Place de la Nation. The eastern side, the combo Place des Antilles and Place de l'Ile de la Réunion, is the lively part, with a street marché heading east down the Cours de Vincennes. Everything one may need is here and it is very lively.

The other three-quarters of the Place de la Nation are somewhat duller so I decide this is enough exploring and hit the métro for the long, but non-stop, haul to Trocadéro.

The sun is not shining when I emerge from the métro. On top of it, the big open Parvis is closed - I imagine some sort of stands are being erected for the weekend's Fête de la Musique. It meansphoto: place and love hostel everybody has to walk the long way around the end of the Palais de Chaillot to get to the other side, where the 'salt marches' are supposed to be in the fountains.

The 'Place and Love' hostel at Jaurés owes its name to... what?

This turns out to be some sort of tourist promotion for the islands of Noirmoutier and Ré, which are in fact already very popular. Both islands have salt marshes which were run as commercial operations; once supplying salt for shipment to ports throughout Europe.

Some 40 tons of it has been brought in and dumped in the Trocadéro fountains and some good old boys are 'harvesting' it for the benefit of us city folks. A couple of sales tents have been set up to hustle brochures, show videos and sell various tasty knick-knacks.

Piles of salt have been set up in dishes all over the place and there is one big pile of it placed in the centre. I watch the 'harvesting' for all of ninety seconds before wondering if maybe gong around the other end of the Palais de Chaillot might not be shorter than the way I came. Whichever way, it is uphill. You can see the 'salt marshes' in action until Wednesday, 23. June.

From the same métro newspaper I have learned about 'Paris-Plage' at La Villette. Today I hope to have time to see it, but I must get to it before a city office opens for the afternoon, at Jaurés. I blow this chance by stopping by the reception office of the Hôtel de Ville to get the Eclipse information; thus leaving myself only 30 minutes for the 'beach' scene.

What I miss - because it finishes on Sunday - is the Villette basin transformed into a seaside village along the Quais de la Loire and Seine, with model boats, musical bands, fireworks, clowns, marionettes, andphoto: village bar central booths promoting beaches - and this is supposed to be right on the other side of Jaurés. Maybe I was too early, because I saw nothing - but had no time left anyhow.

My village 'celebrates' its fëte by falling into a coma.

Right around now, with only about ten days to go until the end of the school term, are all the local fetes and village fairs - put on as a sort of goodbye to the fall-winter-spring seasons, and as a 'hello' to the summer which begins on Monday.

At this time next year I expect to be in a different situation, a situation which will allow me to participate a bit more - with this weekend's Fête de la Musique for example.

So, let's make a date. This time next year, in Paris.

Oh, the apartment? The agent didn't call back and I wasn't able to reach her by phone. She didn't check my references either. Just as well; that odd half-room had me worried. Re-start next Tuesday; this time in the 14th arrondissement.

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