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Trip Report Completely off the beaten track on the Petite Ceinture

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The Petite Ceinture, the old circular rail line around Paris is no secret to Parisians, even though it closed to passenger traffic in the 1930's. When you are in the outer arrondissements, it is impossible not to encounter it from time to time as it crosses your route either above you or below you. The thing that strikes most people is how nature runs absolutely wild all along this thin strip, and it is a welcome relief after seeing all of the manicured public parks and the trees subjected to pruning torture.

Naturally, ever since the creation of the Promenade Plantée on the old Bastille rail line, people have had all sorts of ideas about the Petite Ceinture, but the SNCF will not give up its urban treasure easily -- just imagine the market value of all of the real estate.

I have been wanting to do some exploring for a long time although my crawling-through-the-holes-in-the-fence days are gone. I decided to follow the Petite Ceinture in various places while remaining on public streets for the most part. I still saw at least 10 people down on the tracks during my wanderings, though, so people are still as attacted as ever to this forbidden pleasure.

There is big news, though: part of the line is being converted into a new Promenade Plantée, and the first section opened this month in the 15th arrondissement. The second section is supposed to open in a couple of weeks. As you can imagine, I made a little report about this, so if you have had your fill of all of the monuments and museums, here is something to see that will probably never make it to the guidebooks: http://tinyurl.com/oldrails

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