The Promenade plantée, the Planted Promenade, in Paris is an elevated park-like pathway running partly on a viaduct. It is also known as the Coulée Vert, the Green Flow and extends 4.5 kilometers running almost the entire length of the 12th arrondissement from the Périphérique on the eastern end to the Place de la Bastille on the western end, with only the last couple hundred metres being taken up by the Opéra Bastille.
The railroad track for freight trains was constructed In 1859 connecting the station at Place de la Bastille, now removed and replaced with the Opéra Bastille, to the station in Saint-Maur, 14 kilometers southeast of Paris. On December 14, 1969, the use of this rail-line was discontinued. It was abandoned for years, becoming an eyesore in an already struggling neighborhood. In the early 1990s, the City of Paris transformed the railroad track into a green walk way.. The design was created by landscape architect Jacques Vergely and architect Philippe Mathieux.
Restoration of the Viaduct
The Promenade is connected to the Viaduct des Arts project, the revitalization of a viaduct on which the tracks ran. s. The original 70 red brick arches of the 1.5 kilometer viaduct have been restored, renovated and enclosed with glass. It now houses arts and crafts workshops, galleries, furniture showrooms, a restaurant and a café. The mass of plant-life that borders and sometimes encroaches the already narrow trail can give the impression of being momentarily lost on a forest trail. Then, sporadically, there are breaks in the herbage, offering views of the surrounding city. Among the plants that are found along this walk are hundreds of rose bushes, hardy shrubs, acanthus, triton, lavender, bamboo, ivies and vines and wisteria and cherry trees, maples, lime trees and many other varieties.
The walkway goes through an area of modern-styled apartment buildings, then it becomes a metal bridge which opens up onto a plaza with a four-foot high floor sundial. Here is the Jardin de Reuilly, the Reuilly Garden. The entrance sign to the Jardin de Reuilly states that the Garden is situated near the ancient Chateau de Reuilly which was a vacation house for the Merovingian Kings. More recently, the Jardin de Reuilly occupies the site of an old freight station. Created in 1992, the Garden covers 1,500 square meters. It includes a large circular central lawn, a series of beautifully planted terraces and walkways, a children's playground, statues, a rose garden and an open-air café. The main entrance to the Garden on Avenue Daumesnil is furnished with ramps making the Garden accessible for wheel-chairs and baby-strollers. One can either enjoy walking directly through the Garden, or traverse it by an arched, lightweight footbridge made of metal and wood that spans the central lawn of Jardin de Reuilly. It is the most elevated portion of this walk. East of the Jardin de Reuilly is the Allée Vivaldi which basically runs through an office building plaza. Beyond this Allée, the Promenade splits into a pedestrian path and a bike lane and enters a gaping underpass that has five individual rock waterfalls within it. Once through this underpass the Promenade Plantée completely changes.
What was an elevated walkway has become a sunken walkway where both sides of the Promenade Plantee are bordered by 10-metre tall outward sloping hillsides. For those who don't like heights, here is where to begin. The walls are covered with foliage as are the borders along the walkway. It is a very interesting sensation to be suddenly below street level after having been above it for the past 1.5 kilometers. It is a lovely, cool walkway, sometimes under a canopy of tree boughs. It passes through two old railroad tunnels which have ivy dangling down overhead from the arched entrances of the tunnels.
The Promenade Plantee then splits at Avenue Général Michel Bizot. The trail to the right leads to Square Charles Péguy which has a children's playground, ping-pong tables and a series of small multi-leveled ponds that cascade into one another. It's a quiet and comfortable small park. The trail to the left at Avenue General Michel Bizot continues to the Périphérique (the freeway which encircles Paris) where there are ramping paths that branch left and right to residential streets. The Promenade Plantee project was the model for the proposal put forward by the Friends of the The High Line in New York City.