Le Chemin de Fer
La Petite Ceinture de Paris
Mirroir US : http://www.research.digital.com/PRL/people/patat/art/pc/start.html
The Petite Ceinture, understand the small circular railway line which once circulated all around Paris, was built under Napoleon III, in the period of great constructions (including the opening of the Opera Avenue. Millions of people have travelled on this circular line, as a complement to the Metro, before came the express train (RER). The last part of the line, between Pont Cardinet and La Muette was definitively closed 10 years ago. The nature rapidly took advantage of disapearance of men, invading stations, rail, tunnels... providing a real green curiosity in town. 32 kilometers are left to an unconstructible zone, circular to Paris, promised to demolition. Close from this place, pay a visit also to Rue Watt, as well threatened by demolition plans.
By a rainy day, leaning out of the window (Though I know in four languages that it is completely forbidden!), I can now feel the brakes being slowly unlocked. In a splendid move, the old train in which I am standing into is slowly moving out of the Gare de Lyon. The driver of this 230-G, one of the last surviving SNCF steam loco know he is making one of its last trip around La Petite Ceinture. Out of Gare de Lyon, the train goes through Bercy, near the old wine district, crossing a unique raoad cross on the Rue de Lagny, raoring up the 12th, 20th, 19th arrondissements in East Paris. The train took its maximum speed, crosses now near Batignolles, near a XIX century style Paris, where people give a last salute to this ghost train. In some place, someone has decided to grow flowers near the rail, another one is a sunday 'Petanque' mall, a last one settled in a abandonned railstation, where remain the old wood table and machinism. We already made half a loop, moving now near the Billancourt Renault ship, closed too. Near the end of our trip, the train moves through a serie of mysterious tunnels, in which people can enter the underground of Paris. Most of the hidden catacombs entries are accessible from tunnels like this one , located in the south of 14th Arrondissement.