Two weeks after I moved into my new home here in the 16th, I had some friends visit. We walked up to La Rotonde at La Muette for a cafe allonge (a long pull coffee as opposed to an expresso). We sat outside and enjoyed the people watching and street watching. Across the street sat La Gare. I knew there was a train station nearby that serviced the RER C but I didn’t think it was that close. The next day, a friend came in from the suburbs and I asked her about it. She told me about la Petite Ceinture–literally the little belt. La ceinture was a rail line that serviced all the main stations in Paris and by the time it was finished construction made a loop around Paris. It’s heyday was the 1900 Universal Expo in Paris. It was also the beginning of the end for the Ceinture as the metro lines were being built and introduced.
La Gare, which we had been admiring, was one of the little stations for the Ceinture. It is now a terrace tea room on it’s main floor and a restaurant underneath where the trains would stop. The architects of La Gare as restaurant saved the signs so one can see exactly where the quays were. The mezzanine is marked Baggage and houses the toilets and coat service.
The 16th arrondissement has resurrected 1.2 kilometers of the rail line and turned it into a nature path. It lies directly between my building and Porte de Passy. At the end of rue de l’Assomption is one of the gates to enter into the path. It is green, inviting, extremely quiet and shady for our hot summer days. Along the way are signs inviting us to look at the trees, birds and other natural phenomena telling us what to look for. You just get started and the walk is over. I gather there is great and on-going debate about what to do with the 36 kilometers total of the old rail line.
A waste container made from the wood along the path and a sign begging us not to throw our cigarette butts or any ‘crap’ on the path.
If you want to know the fascinating history of the Chemin de Far de Petite Ceinture, go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemin_de_fer_de_Petite_Ceinture
In a 2004 episode of Poirot “The Mystery of the Blue Train”, Poirot and friends board the Blue Train in London to go to Nice. On the way, he explains to his traveling companion that they are on La Petite Ceinture to get to the Gare de Lyon where they will turn south to go to Nice.
Above: One of the last Petite Ceinture de Paris passenger trains in 1933 – its passenger service would close one year later. right: View of the Ouest Champ du Mars station during the 1900 exposition, with the Boulainvilliers bridge-viaduct for Batignolles trains in the background.
Some of my readers know the 16th quite well. Perhaps this little sign with a map will bring back memories. The three metro stations are Ranelagh, Jasmin, Michel-Ange.