March 19, 2008

Bassin de la Villette


The Canal Saint Martin (my post yesterday) ends (or starts) with the Bassin de la Villette. This is the largest open water space in Paris. At the opposite end, this basin meets the Canal de l’Ourcq which brings the water to the canal system from the river Ourcq, some 100 km (60 miles) away. The basin is actually in two parts; a larger one (700 x 70 m = 2300 x 230 ft) and a second more narrow one (730 x 30 m = 2400 x 100 ft). They are separated by a hydraulic lift-bridge from 1885, still functioning and causing some traffic jams when it nowadays occasionally has to be opened (or lifted). The larger part of the basin was in the beginning of the 19th century, just after its construction, surrounded by green areas and it was popular to come here for picnics in the summer and for skating in the winter. (Yes, the climate is getting warmer – no ice here anymore.) It served as an enormous reservoir of drinking water. During the second part of the 19th century, the basin became more and more industrial and the port activities were at a time considerable (same volumes as in the port of Bordeaux). Some of the old administrative and warehouse buildings (partly tagged) are still there.Nowadays, both basins are basically surrounded by modern apartment and office buildings, but around the larger part of the basin you can also find some more distracting activities. There are two multiplex cinemas, one on each side of the basin, belonging to the same company - offering a boat trip from one quay to the other. There are some installations for kids to play, some statues (including a laying Eiffel-tower-like one), some cafés and restaurants, some barges used as theatres… Part of July-August the Paris-Plages is now also installed here with a lot of “beach-activities”, as along the Seine river (see my post from July 21, 2007). This is also the base for a number of sightseeing boats, which can bring you along the Canal Saint Martin or elsewhere. (My photos from a relatively cold March day show fewer activities.) At the end of the basin, where the Canal Saint Martin begins (or ends) you will find a round building, the “Rotonde de la Villette”, which dates from around 1787 and was part of the wall “Fermiers Généraux” (served as office), built around what was those day’s smaller Paris, to enable tax collection for food, beverages, building material etc. entering the city; a very unpopular tax which was stopped a few years later, immediately after the Revolution. (See my post of January 18.) The building will now be transformed into some kind of small cultural centre.

Some of these pictures can also be found on my photo-blog.

32 comments:

lyliane said...

Alors à demain, bonne nuit.

keith hillman said...

Peter, what beautiful picyures and what a wonderful site you have.

I came as a result of being placed alongside you in thr title of Monas latest post!

I lived in France for several years. I was in a tiny village several miles from Rouen and they were some of the most wonderful days of my life. I have also spent a lot of time in India, and these two contrastinng countries both have such happy memories for me.

I'll be back here for more!

Annie said...

Ever since I first learned of it I have loved the idea of the Paris-Plages. Perhaps I learned of it from your earlier post of the Seine.

Jessica said...

How great that you caught a picture of the hydraulic bridge opening. How long did you have to wait for that to happen?

hpy said...

Je pense qu'on peut effectivement dire que le Canal s'arrête à la Villette, car si on suit les numéros des rues parallèles, ils commencent à l'autre bout.

April said...

I think it's a nice way to go to La Villette which is very photogenic. but you need a lot of time because of all those sluices.

oldmanlincoln said...

You may correct me but it seems like I have seen movies, in days gone by, where scenes in Paris were shot along waterways like these you have described. I don't remember much more than that.

Your story about this is fascinating to me and begs the question is the water polluted after all of these years of close association with mankind?

Thanks for your continued visits to my blog and for your comments there.

Abraham Lincoln
Brookville, Ohio

Noushy Syah said...

I'm sure the area of the larger basin will be a gr8 place to hang out during summer especially with the activities surrounding the area.

The info that you post here definitely benefits to the readers.

Have a gr8 day Peter.

Ex-Shammickite said...

You have taken me on another interesting stroll around the sights of Paris, I'm hoping for another one tomorrow!

delphinium said...

ah peter, il y a des jours où j'ai vraiment de la peine quand je dois me concentrer pour lire en anglais et aujourd'hui est un de ces jours... je suis épuisée alors tu m'excuseras si mon commentaire n'est pas très performant. bises

GMG said...

Another great post. You should create a CD with your posts: «Peter's Paris, for bginners and expperts..." Think it over!
I considered the possibility of taking a Paris break, since this week happened to be quite calm up to now; but then Guida had no chance of leaving before Thursday, we had to be back on Sunday, and the weather forecast for Paris was rain… So, rain for rain, we stayed... ;(
Just finished my Greek Islands 2006 adventure with a post on Cretan Towns! Enjoy your Easter Eggs and have a great long weekend!
Gil

claude said...

Tes blogs sont très intéressants et instructifs pour tous ceux qui veulent connaître Paris sans y aller et surtout pour ceux qui l'aime, comme moi.

krystyna said...

Brilliant post and photos!
I agree with gmg, that you should create a CD/ video with your posts.

Best wishes to you!

Mathilde said...

Bonsoir Peter,

Et moi mauvaise ou bonne élève... non, ni bonne ni mauvaise.. Élève ne me correspond pas...

Donc, je vais consciencieusement sur mon outil linguistique Google et je peux lire tes textes.. Les tournures de la traduction m'amusent parfois... mais je suis tout... Mais sur ces posts là, je suis chez moi, je connais chaque recoin, petit bistro, cinéma et même les petites promenades en bateau.... je n'en admire pas moins tes photos....

Bonne soirée Peter

Ming the Merciless said...

Ahhh...a different sight of Paris I have never seen. It looks somewhat like the Netherlands to me, maybe because of the canal and houseboats.

catherine said...

la villette ; un endroit génial pour se balader avec des enfants à n'importe quelle saison. il y toujours le toboggan dragon ?

Peter said...

lyliane:
Maintenant, demain c'est déjà hier!

keith:
Thanks... and will have a look at your blog!

annie:
Maybe... I hope you learnt it from me!

Peter said...

jessica:
I was lucky, just when I arrived!

hpy:
En effet!

april:
Of course if you walk or bike, you dont have to wait for the locks! ... but boat would be better, but take a long time!

Peter said...

oldmanlincoln:
Thanks for being regular also on my blog! I mentioned in the preceding post at least two films shot here (or pretended to be shot here)!

noushy:
I will try to go back a nice summer weekend to see the difference.

ex-shammickite:
I hope you will find tomorrow's (today's) post of some interest!

Peter said...

delphinium:
Tu as des difficultés avec mon anglais? Je pensai qu'en Suisse on parlait toutes les langues! Et l'allemand (Swiss Deutsch), et l'italien (romansh)...? De toute façon, tu es excusée, merci déjà d'être passée! Bises! :-)

gmg:
So, Paris another time! When you come, I hope we can meet! CD? I will think about it! I guess I must in any case first have something more complete; still a lot of not covered items.

claude:
C'est facil à aimer Paris, n'est-ce pas?

Peter said...

krystyna:
OK, I got the message (see my comments to gmg)! :-)

mathilde:
Tu aurais du me guider!

ming:
Well, it can't be that Amsterdam looks like Paris...?

Peter said...

catherine:
Toboggan dragon? Je ne sais pas... je dois retourner!

Cergie said...

Je me répète, j’aime bcp ce coin là. La Rotonde a été en travaux. Ca vaut le coup aussi d’immortaliser ça qd on peut. Ces squares pour enfants sont bienvenus près du canal. Ce quartier est habité et vivant.

J’ai eu l’occasion de faire la descente en bateau lorsqu’une amie allemande d’Anna est venue chez nous, cela ne l’a guère passionné de passer les écluses.

Il y a aussi un collage de Space Invader sous un toit de maison d’écluse, comme il en est à Montmartre, il faut lever les yeux pour découvrir ces trésors.

Peter said...

Cergie:
J'ai raté Space Invader. La Rotonde est toujours en travaux!

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businessprocessoutsourcepro said...

Great photos. Tourist would relly come to the different places it can offer.

buyingoverseas said...

Its nice to know that you ride on a boat to tour the city. Its also good to know that the hydrolic bridge is still functioning.

buyingpropertyinusa said...

For tourist who wants to visit old buildings, they can go here and appriciate the old warehouse still existing.

buypropertyinusa said...

Its nice to see that old and new buildings can be explore near the Bassin.