Tag Archives: quirky things about Paris

Secret Garden in the Sky: Promenade Plantée

Promenade Plantee picture, Paris

Promenade Plantee from gardenvisit.com

You’ll find the entrance to the Promenade Plantée on l’Avenue Daumesnil just south of the Bastille Opera where you’ll head up the steps. This is a raised promenade that follows to a large extent the old chemin de fer de l’Est (railway line). It’s a real treat of a walk that allows you to get away from the hoards, sniff roses and look out over the Parisian rooftops whilst being mown down by passing joggers. (Only joking – pedestrians and joggers can co-exist – the path’s generally wide enough).

You’ll be walking through the rooftops of Paris, and will see amongst other things reproductions of “The Dying Slave” on top of a police station on the corner of Rue de Rambouillet (see photo above – credited to Paris Walking Tours.)

The promenade’s 4.5km long so you’ll get a decent amount of exercise and it ends a short way away from the Bois de Vincennes (and it’s a short walk to Metro Dorée to get you home). There’s also a cycle route running below, joining up with the promenade later, but still split into two paths – so you’ll not be mown down by cyclists either.

As an alternative to the raised area, between the arches of the Viaduct (the Viaduc des Arts) a number of artists and artisan workshops were established to complete the renovation of this crumbling piece of engineering in the late 1980s.

Five favourite sculptures, London

Red rose sculpture

"Icon" by Will Ryman

This one was taken very recently. It was part of the Frieze Art Fair Sculpture Park and witnessed on a beautifully sunny, mild autumnal day. It’s called “Icon” and was created by American artist and former playwright Will Ryman. Apparently Ryman has said about his sculpture that “I am taking this global symbol and its connotations of romance and beauty and changing it to represent commercialism and high art.” His roses originally appeared in Park Avenue (although not at this scale.)

Henry Moore sculpture

"Large Reclining Figure" by Henry Moore

This fibreglass and plaster Henry Moore figure was part of Moore at Kew in 2007-2008. It’s now back at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge if you’d like a closer look.

Angel sculpture, St Paul's

Emily Young "Angel"

Made of Purbeck stone and sitting on columns, this is one of five sculptures that gaze toward St Paul’s Cathedral.This one will be overshadowed a bit at the moment, what with the posh campers known as Occupy London Stock Exchange occupying the outside of the church at the moment.

Angry Pins sculpture, Frieze Sculpture Park

"Angry Pins" by Des Hughes

Another Frieze Sculpture Park work, these very angry heads are set on 3 metre tall “pins.” I wouldn’t want to cross them! A previous work of Des Hughes was the “Unconvincing Sausages.” I wish I’d seen that one.

Ram in New Street, London

Ram in New Street

New Street can be found between Liverpool Street Station and Spitalfields Market. This is a bit of surprise as you round the corner to a street otherwise full of metropolitan police cars. It’s sat on top of a lovely arch which used to be the entrance to the Coopers Wool Warehouse, that has now been converted to offices.

10 London Underground Station Names

Belsize Park sign

These names are lifted shamelessly from the book What’s in a Name?: Origins of Station Names on the London Underground by Cyril M Harris. Thanks Cyril.


Named after the “barbicana” or Roman Tower that stood in the area. A latin word probably derived from the Persian language originally, it meant upper chamber. The Saxons then named it “burgh kennin” and lit fires on it to guide Londonders on their journeys. It was pulled down in 1267, rebuilt in 1336 and demolished at an unknown later date. Actually, I’ve just noticed that there’s a barbican in York. Fascinating.

Belsize Park

The area was named Belassis (from the French “bel asis” – beautifully situated.) There used to be a manor house and park in Belsize Square which would account for the descriptive name. And why Cameron Diaz has just bought a flat there.

Clapham Common

There was a wood on the site called Cloppaham (recorded in the 8th century.) And that name is derived from “clap” (hill) and “ham” (home). Common is a common…

Covent Garden

Great one this – it was named after a convent garden run by the monks of Westminster Abbey in the fifteenth century. The famous Covent Garden fruit market was then established there in 1661.

Hangar Lane

“Le Hangrewode” was a wood known in the fourteenth century. “Hangra” is an old English word meaning wooded hill. They obviously then changed it to lane.

King’s Cross

Named after a statue of King George IV that stood  at the crossroads there. Incidentally, the area had been called Battlebridge before this, after a battle between Queen Boudica and the Romans in AD59 or 61.

Manor House

Surprisingly, named after a tavern (I had naively presumed it would have been been an actual manor house). The pub was originally called the Manor Tavern but renamed the Manor House after the manor house opposite in 1931. So there was a manor house involved then!


Recorded as Neasdun in 939 from the old English “naess” meaning nose and “dun” meaning hill, reason being there’s a nose-shaped hill in the area. Wow.

Seven Sisters

There used to be seven elm trees in this neck of the woods, near Page Green. They were known as “7 sesters” in 1754 and “Seven Sisters” in 1805.

Wembley Central

“Wemba” a person who lived in the area, and “lea” after the word for clearing “leah” was how this district was recorded in 825. Therefore Wemba lea was the clearing where Wemba lived! Lovely.