No. 222-223: Sundays on the Seine (and Marne) and Créteil
One of my very favorite things about living in Paris is spending Sundays on the Seine and Marne.
Every Sunday if we are both in town and the weather is even marginally nice, Superman and I jump on the Vélibs and head down to the Seine. The former mayor of Paris made it a priority to make the Seine accessible to families sharing a Sunday stroll and fitness enthusiasts alike. Since we fall into both of those categories (plus do not own a car), we are huge fans of ex-Mayor Bertrand Delanoë and his progressive policies to improve the quality of life in Paris. We are especially grateful for all he did to make it so easy to jump on the path (and closed roads) along the Seine and explore life beyond Paris.
After almost three years, we have discovered all sorts of chemins, quaint streets and hamlets, and peaceful riverside breaks. We are now very familiar with the point where the Seine and the Marne split, or merge, depending on how you look at it.
We have discovered that the farther you get from the city centre, the more easily the folk smile and dit “Bonjour”. We have come across a few places we would love to live, and admired some striking river front property.
Our latest fascination is the suburb of Créteil (12km southeast of Paris and part of Val-de-Marne). When you arrive by métro it seems like a gray, university suburb with highrises and little character, but when you arrive by bike along the Marne, it is a whole different story. For two decades, Créteil has been one of France’s “four-flower” Villes et Villages Fleuris. The city flowerbeds, particularly at this time of the year, dazzle.
There are over 70 different species of trees in the “town”, numerous fountains, and even a lake. There is some great architecture, including the Château des Mèches, and gorgeous canal and riverside homes. The residents seem pretty focused on outdoor activities. Families dig in community vegetable gardens and race miniature boats on the canals. We checked in with a kayaking club last week learning to roll. We have come across groups rock climbing and canoeing, fisher people, and of course multitudes of cyclists, runners, and strollers.
Sundays may be a day of rest, but for us it is definitely worth the two-wheeling effort to escape from the city and enjoy the Seine and Marne and a little bit of the “country life”.
chemins: paths, trails
dit “Bonjour”: say “Hello”