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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. 

The Promenade des Plantées

The Promanade des Plantees is a lovely three mile walk through the Twelfth Arrondissement. Beginning in Porte Dorée at the National Museum of Immigration History (blog post to follow) we walked into town,   past the Gare du Lyons, ending not far from the Place de Bastille.
From Porte Dorée  a walkway leads you at ground level through a variety of neighborhoods, beneath bridges, through tunnels, along a median strip and finally up onto the elevated park.  The earlier sections of the park, before it climbs above the viaduct, are accessible to all with cyclists and walkers in two separate tracks, see above.
Inaugurated in 1993, the Promonade des Plantées was the progeniture of other elevated walkways including  the wonderful High Line in New York City - which I blogged about last year. Both are excellent examples of urban renewal  where elevated train tracks (in Paris the the old Vincennes line) have been reutilized to created urban green space. 
The elevated pathway (open only to pedestrians) passes over parks, beside and between buildings (both old and new) and through various neighborhoods. It's used by everyone; runners, families, couples and with frequent benches it's a great place to sit and relax though perhaps not on a cold day!
I first read about the Promanade des Plantées in the TimeOut's Book of Paris Walks in which Jean-Daiel Bréque points out the astonishing post modern building below which is decorated with multiple versions of Michelangelo's, Dying Slave. I can't put it any better than he does, 

"Each of these cyclopean statues is graced with a triangular hole in its chest. You guess that there is supposed  to be symbolic or allegorical meaning in this, and the mind reels. Michelangelo's  work is also known as the Dying Captive, and this ludicrous building is a police station. I'm not making this up." 

Amazing, here are a couple of photos so you can enjoy it too!
 Though the day was dull there were clear signs that spring is on its way and the first of the daffodils were out. With the weather we've been having the promise of spring is particularly sweet.  It will look it's best later in the year but it was fun even in the gloom!
Towards the end of the walkway there's a lovely grove of bamboo. What I liked so much about this walk is the variety of plantings, the views and the quiet calm it offers above the city. Highly recommended as a place to stretch your legs and get out of the center of town.