Yesterday, on the train back to Paris, I was scheduled to arrive at the train station Gare du Nord at 17:17. This station is right in the heart of Paris, on the northern side of the city. So I was shocked that I could look out my train window at 17:11 and see nothing but green fields. It seemed impossible that 6 minutes from my very urban destination I would see only agricultural land. But such was the case.
|Similar to the fields I saw from my train window six minutes north of Paris Gare du Nord (photo was taken earlier in the journey)|
The density of Paris is quite amazing, as well as its strong urban boundary. This is not a boundary in the sense that they have been working with in Portland, Oregon. This seems much more organically, well, French. Repeatedly during my time here I am struck by the perception that there is a much greater cultural acceptance of very strong control over the built environment. Antoine Picon, noted expert on Paris, shared just such an example in a conversation the other day - building heights have been controlled in Paris since around the time of the Renaissance. Luckily for the French, and for the world, that control is partnered with a very consistent, and consistently good sense of taste. The city in effect becomes its own work of art.
Fascinating. Very French?