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Did you know that there is an abandoned railroad in Paris that leads all around town?
The old rails are belonging the Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture, a circular railway around Paris that served once as the first urban transport system. Finished in 1867, the railway became quickly an important connection between the village-like parts of Paris – both for the transport of freights and as a passenger service. With the launch of the first Metro lines in 1900, it’s usage declined slowly but steady until the train services were permanently shut down in 1934.
Since then the rails laid mainly abandoned and idle.
Until a few years ago, when an initiative launched several projects to rehabilitate the old chemin de fer and to transform it into an urban park. Up to today, 3 sections of the old railway are open to the public and there are more to come. One of the legally accessible parts is the Petite Ceinture in the 15th arrondissement in the south of Paris. If you want to see Paris from a different angle, visiting the old rails is definitely one of the unique non-touristy things to do in Paris.
Are you more the offbeat kind of traveler that is all up for the hidden gems? Don’t miss our Paris insider post!
I knew that the Petite Ceinture was close to my home, probably less than 10 minutes on foot. As I love to explore the hidden gems of Pairs, I searched for it a few times but as I ever only stumbled upon the closed for the public part along the park Georges Brassens, I shrugged it off as an urban legend. Until a few weeks ago when I looked it up on Google once more. indications were only as vague as “next to the park” or “the abandoned rails in the 15th” but I finally found the decisive hint that made me understand that I was simply searching in the wrong place: there’s no direct access from the Park Georges Brassens to the Petite Ceinture. However, a footpath just across the road from the park leads you to the entrance at rue Olivier de Serres – if you don’t know it’s there you’d probably mistake it for an entrance to a housing complex.
If you are already in the area, make sure not to miss the local flea market and antique book fair! Read more here
The Petite Ceinture stretches 1.5km along the south of the 15th arrondissement. The park is a strong contrast to the neatly maintained Parisian parks – its natural biodiversity holds more than 200 species of wild plants and 70 species of animals. To preserve this piece of urban nature, the park is not artificially illuminated or planted.
Opening Times: depending on the time of the year. Usually, it’s opening between 8:00 and 9:00 and closes between 19:30 and 18:30. It might stay closed in case of rain, storm, or snow.
Access: In front of 101 rue Olivier de Serres, or from the other side at Metro Balard
Porte de Versailles, Line 12 or Balard, Line 8
The Petite Ceinture is more or less barrier-free – while the ground is not always super flat though, it can be accessed by elevator.
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