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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Walking Along the Canal at St. Denis

St. Denis is a fascinating place, not just for the cathedral and its place in French history but for the more recent of industrialization and the waves of immigration that followed.
This is a working class town with a history of social mobilization. Industrial jobs at factories including a large glassworks  drew workers from increasing distances. First they came  from rural  Brittany, then Spain and Italy and increasingly from the Maghreb. This remains a blue collar town and the dislocation of immigration the post-industrial economy can be seen in the small informal shanty towns built by undocumented migrants along the motorway here.
The town has gone to a great effort to provide  reasons to see more than just the Cathedral in St Denis. They've established a walking route (marked with informative plaques, see above) that takes you through town towards the canal.  Cross a main road (which you traverse through the metro stop) and continuing towards the new stadium built for the World Cup (which the proudly told us recently hosted U2) you eventually arrive at   the canal. It's an interesting trail and well worth you time if you enjoy walking and like to see a changing urban/industrial landscape. This isn't a stroll in  the Luxembourg Gardens but it's every bit as important a slice of French history
The Stade de France (the national stadium) marks thebeginning of the canal side walk south.
The walkway runs on the left of the canal as you walk south. The righthand bank still shows industrial activity including warehouses and factories.
There's some interesting graffiti along the way including this tribute to the prominent French intellectual and leader of the Negritude movement Aimé Césaire.
At one point the walkway takes you right into a cement plant which you have to r=negotiate your way through. Clearly this is the still industrial section even on the left bank!
This one reminds me of Dubuffet...
We walked past Le Millenaire shopping center (which appears unexpectedly on the right bank of the canal) and took  a combination of the tram and metro home from Porte de la Villette. If you work out where to cross the canal you can take a free boat for the short ride between the shopping center and Porte de la Villette.