Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Friday 13 May 2016

Parisian miscellany

What better way to take advantage of the quiet streets of the Parisian public holiday last weekend (not to mention the fantastic weather) than a leisurely bike ride downsome unfamiliar side streets, noting en route how Rue de Paradis is only slightly more attractive than Paradise Row in London, that the Society for the Future of the Proletariat once promised a golden sheaf, and to wonder why and how the Porte St Denis was supposed to glorify Louis XIV by a headless warrior.

Eventually the road led to the newly-revealed revamp of Les Halles. There's been a long and not very happy record of attempts to develop something to replace the old cast-iron market halls. A not much loved shopping centre and public space on top of the underground railway interchange has had a new treatment of the previously rather poky, uninspiring entrance and surface levels, after several grand plans and false starts.

A view right through from one side to the other  has been opened up, under a canopy in a sort of metallised buttery yellow. Perhaps it's supposed to make you think the sun's shining even if it isn't, but if so, the designer's bets are hedged by the patterned glass that casts a sort of iridescent shadow that suggests it's raining, when it isn't. Looking down on the sweep of stairs and escalators into the complex below, I couldn't help thinking of Jacques Tati's comedies of a dystopian futuristic technology.

Much of the shopping centre is being renovated, and looks like any other, so the sunshine called me further on towards the river, where the curse of the lovelocks has moved on to another pedestrian bridge, and eventually to the little garden round the Tour St Jacques. Here the sun had called out more people than you might imagine could fit in, but also - and more importantly - the flowers:

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