Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another Side of Paris . . .

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The Buttes Chaumont Park in the 19th arrondisement of Paris is a little off the beaten tourist track, but is a pleasant place where people go to stroll on a sunny spring afternoon (ok, technically it's not Spring yet, but it sure felt like it day before yesterday). I had never walked into the Buttes Chaumont from the northeast entrance until the other day, and was surprised to discover a section of abandoned railroad tracks running under a pair of bridges at the edge of the park, and some splashes of intriguing looking colors alongside them. It turns out the train tracks there are part of what is known as "la petite ceinture", a circular railway which went around the interior of Paris, built in the mid 1800's, now out of service.
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It turned out there was an easy way to climb down to the track level by scrambling down a slope under some bushes, so down I went, it seemed too tempting to resist a closer look. The person just visible with what looks like a torch was practicing her juggling flaming baton routine.
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Just below a bridge someone had laid out some wood crates with soil in them for planting things, which will no doubt be sprouting soon, given how unseasonably warm the weather has been of late.
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There was quite a bit of graffiti about, some of which was keeping a close eye on things...
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An old piano keyboard had somehow ended up down there by the tracks, apparently at the end of its road in life... no more music from those keys.
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Exercises in the absurd...
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Who was she ?
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Even Jerome Mesnager had stopped by at some point to paint one of his famous white men...
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Someone has a sense of humour...
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A suspended blue sneaker, speaking volumes of mysteries...
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27 comments:

AVY said...

What a cool place, perfect for taking pictures.



/Avy

http://mymotherfuckedmickjagger.blogspot.com

louciao said...

Now this is a Paris tour that would be right up my allée! How can I book that open-faced room for my stay?

Owen said...

Lynne, no bookings required, you just bring a shopping cart filled with bags of old smelly clothes and you will fit right in... :-)

Just let me know when you'll be here, and I'll stake out an alcove for you, and equip it with an old mattress from the supply under the railroad bridge... I won't tell you what else is stored under there...

Robert Geiss said...

This might be the missing track of and for the world as it currently travels.

The Piano made it an incredible moving entry, together with the open book and picture broken ...

Please have a good Friday.

louciao said...

Ah! a lightbulb moment: shopping carts full of old smelly clothes--there must be a contingency of ex-Parisians living in Vancouver! I will seek them out and ask for travel advice. Could be tricky getting the cart through customs. Never mind the mattress, I'll just sleep on my yoga mat, under my pile of old smelly clothes. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Nathalie said...

Home street home and more, what a creative place ! The displays are obviously artsy in intention. A photographer's dream and you took us right into it. I'm in awe at what you showed us. Thank you for taking us there. Did you have a chat to the man you saw juggling with fire ? Did he make any comments about you photographying the lot?

Steve said...

There is plainly a much better class of grafitti in Paris...!

Adam said...

Great photo reportage here Owen. I've been past there many times, but never actually ventured down, so thanks for doing it for me!

The tracks here are still owned by the SNCF, and could be put into service again. I actually took a train ride on there a few years ago!

French Girl in Seattle said...

Great finds Owen! You do have an eye for objects and places others have often neglected to see... Who would have thought this was near Les Buttes Chaumont? I am pretty sure that's not what Napoleon III and his crew had in mind when they created that park! ;-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Owen said...

Hi Véronique !
Funny you should mention Napoleon III, was just reading about something related to him in another blog post today that you can see here, another interesting piece about Père Lachaise...

http://parisisinvisible.blogspot.com/

Adam's blog, invisible Paris, is well worth keeping an eye on, for he goes into wonderful depths in his research, and brings all sorts of fascinating stories to the surface...

Laurie said...

This is great, Owen. What a great location for photography.

Nevine said...

The things we encounter when we dare to venture off the beaten path! I'm not quite sure which photos to pick as my favorites... they're all sublime! I think, though, that something inside me is clamoring for that old keyboard with the jacked up keys. And that third photo of the busted keyboard is just unbelievable!

Nevine

Roxana said...

this rich post is mind blowing oh - while i am admiring the beauty of the photos, such precise art of the detail, my heart aches with questions about the photograph, the open book, the girl, the blue sneaker - myriads of life stories suspended, interwoven, imagined, recreated...
wonderful, simply wonderful

Oakland Daily Photo said...

It feels like you went down the rabbit hole and decided to explore around. Something universal about this other Paris. And creative. And compelling. And a little unnerving. The all seeing eye is great.

Rebecca said...

Oh my gosh, the first couple shots look just like an abandoned rail line in Philadelphia, PA USA. Your's has much more interesting photo ops though!

Stickup Artist said...

I somehow think Duchamp and Basquiat would find a kindred spirit here. The words "Home Street Home" are extremely clever, but very sad. You did an amazing job communicating a sense of place and intent from the overview shots to the details. (Love way you shot that last keyboad). I know most will see this as defacement, but I see a shining spirit... and I'm a little in awe.

English Rider said...

All very artistic and deliberate. How interesting. There must be moments when spectators gather for performance art shows, don't you imagine?

Catherine said...

A lovely sequence of off the beaten track shots in Paris - most evocative - I shall be in Paris week after Easter 9th - 14th April - have contacted Peter too who is happy to meet up - would you like to join us too for a photo trek day sometime that week?? Greetings from the Riviera...

henk van es said...

Kind of a collective outsider environment. Nice find, Owen.

Peter Olson said...

What a paradise for you and your camera!! :-)

I have collected a number of photos from different parts of the old circular railroad, but my collection is far from complete. Maybe we can explore other parts together?

James said...

What an awesome discovery! I think this is the opposite side from where we entered the park.

lgsquirrel said...

It is a magical place, a hidden kingdom. What a great find.

The Sagittarian said...

Amazing what you can find when you are off the beaten track, you have a well trained eye methinks. :-)

clo said...

Howdy Owen :)

Un reportage touchant et d'excellentes images...meme si elles suggerent que certains vivent là ,sans reels espoirs de voir un jour la lumiere au bout du tunnel..
En tous les cas c'est tres artistique la deco...insolite et emouvant...
Je t'embrasse ,et je suis heureuse de te retrouver..:)

Le Journal de Chrys said...

Ohhhhh mais je n'avais pas vu ce billet!

Un vrai photo-reportage, une vrais surprise, une pépite créative dans un recoin de la citée!

Génial.

Lydia said...

One of the best collections in awhile, I think. I am totally in awe of the one with the tunnel and the flame-woman. Just amazing work, Owen. Thank you for this post.

:: Karine :: said...

whaouh !!! j'adore ce post owen adoré ^^
très beau reportage et témoignage, vraiment merci !