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Trip Report May 27, 2013: Last Tangle in Paris or This Never Happens to Kerouac

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A beautiful Monday, so off for another shot at the Cite Universitaire, which we abandoned in the sleet halfway through our visit last week.

We got the 216 bus, which runs from Denfert Rochereau to Rungis, where the markets at Les Halle's moved some years ago. I hoped for lots of burly market porters in blue overalls, but they must all have been at work, because there were only three of us all the way to the Stade Arlety, where we got off.

The Cite has an entrances spaced along the street, so we quickly got in and started taking pictures of the national buildings and plantings. It was so nice that a lot of students were hanging out just like students do everywhere, only they were playing boules rather than throwing frisbees! Students still like to lie on blankets and smooch, just as we did on fine days.

After a nice walk, we executed part two of the day's plan: riding the T1 tram line! I have been fascinated by this ever since I saw it on a map, and Kerouac's photos cemented my interest. We are frequent riders of the Green Line in Boston, and this just cannot be compared! The equipment is quiet, the ride comfortable, the stations have shelters, and the right of way is planted with lush green grass -- public transportation as it should be!

We went all the way to the Seine at Pont de Garigliano, through neighborhoods that reminded me a lot of Kendall Square in Cambridge, with tech operations filling in old factory sites on one side and modern housing and shopping on the other but with enough of the old remaining for a bit of soul.

At the end of the line, we tried to make our way to the Parc Andre Citroen, one of our favorite places in Paris on our last visit there when it was new. Between the Hopital Pompidou, the Prefecture of Police, some mirrored high tech office buildings, and a lot of construction, we had a heck of a time finding our way in.

Once we were in the park, we were gravely disappointed to find that though the design remains brilliant, the condition of the park is sad, partly through lack of maintenance and partly through construction that has proved unstable: a lot of stone was glued on as veneers and the glue has failed, few of the water features were operative, and the toilets were disgusting. But the captive balloon will still take you for a ride, the lawns are still full of school kids and sunbathers, and the plantings are maturing nicely. And it is a great place for the high tech workers to eat lunch, since there are in fact lots of ways to get in from their offices. Perhaps their employers could sponsor some of the maintenance this wonderful amenity needs.

And now to our Last Tangle in Paris. We planned to take the 88 bus back to Denfert Rochereau . It is a great ride through the 15th and parts of the 6th and 14th. Because it goes near but never actually TO the great tourist sites, it is sort of unknown territory to visitors, including us. We have ridden this bus before but never got off to explore, which was what we planned today. But first we had to find the bus. We found the bus stop, but all the buses went south; we needed to go north but none ever came back. Finally, we figured out that this stop was closed because of the construction, so we walked to another stop, this one crowded with French people. Only buses weren't coming there, either. Finally, we all got together and flagged down a 42 going in the opposite direction. The driver had mercy on us, let us come on board without paying, and dropped us off at the temporary point of departure for the 88. We all got on the 88, the driver pulled forward about fifty feet, then stopped for his end of the line 10 minute break!

Well, we eventually got back to the apartment, too tired to stop for lunch in the 15th, now more desirable than ever, like Samarkand, for being always just beyond reach! Next time we will find the treasures of the Avenue Victor Hugo and the delights of the Rue des Entrepreneurs, one of the least aptly named streets in Paris, in a part of the city Haussmann seemingly forgot.

Later that afternoon we wandered around our own area for a last time, down to Alesia at rush hour, then back to our street for our first supper at a local place we had been passing: smoked trout tartine, jarette aux lentilles, Saucisse Lyonnaise with pommes de terre, and Brouilly to drink. I like Brouilly and we had been sampling it all week all over Paris. This night, I decided on something else for a little variety. No, no, no, no! The youthful waiter wouldn't have it! The Brouilly was cheaper and was a better match for what we were eating! He insisted, I gave in, a perfect end to tangled day and a week in Paris, slightly off the beaten track.

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