Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Promenade in the parc: adieu l'été

While looking through my photos I came across a set taken on a late summer Sunday in the middle of my blog shuffle, which were, as a result, never published. They're of Parc des Buttes Chaumont and, I'll admit, a little out of season, but looking at them from under a blanket while I struggle to return circulation to my toes on one of our coldest days yet has brought on such a strong wave of nostalgia that I figured I'd share.

The parc is far from the flat, manicured, fountain-filled Luxembourg gardens that Paris is famous for in both locale and style. Located in the 19th arrondissement, it embraces (and exaggerates) the hilly topography of the quartier and has a distinctly "wild" look--of overgrown forests, rope bridges and secret waterfalls that, while obviously carefully engineered, are nonetheless a nice escape from urban life.

Here's a shot of sunbathers and picnickers down one of the parc's many sunny slopes. I love the girl in the white dress sauntering purposefully past in the foreground:

And another. I didn't get a picture, but there was a jazz band performing at the pavillion on top of the hill, so everyone you see was being treated to a free concert.
You can just make out the spires of the Sacre Coeur in the background:
Downhill, the water from the falls slowed to a stream. Children splashed in the shallows in various degrees of nakedness, running behind trees to relieve themselves when the urge struck. Although the sight is a little surprising to Americans, I remember having similar experiences of seeing children (of all ages/genders) naked in public on the beaches of Nice. I really like how much more relaxed the French attitude towards the body is (at least as far as children are concerned):
I found a friend:
To be sung to the tune of "hole in the bottom of the sea": therrrrre's a pavilion on the cliff on the island in the lake in the valley of the center of the park!
The same, from a different angle (down by where all the gaufre and crêpe carts were...yummy!):
The Indiana Jones-esque bridge leading to the island:
The view of the shore from the bridge:
A cute gay couple kept posing for me as I snapped pictures of the pavilion. I don't know if there was some sort of gay holiday I wasn't aware of or if the queer community just congregates in Buttes Chaumont, but I have never seen so many same-sex couples outside of Pride parades and Indigo Girls concerts (don't judge! they're good!).
A better view of the distant Sacre Coeur, from the top of the island cliff:
The top of the island also afforded an excellent view of a rather odd installation art piece in the moat below, a sort of lily pad colony of red blood cells:
And finally, here's us, looking warm and happy and full of vitamin D. Aw.

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