I’ve mentioned previously that we live in the 17th. This arondissement comprises four quartiers being Ternes, Plaines-de-Monceaux, Batignolles and Epinettes in order from south-west to north-east across the arondissement. The southwest end at Ternes and the Monceau plain oozes affluence. The buildings are beautiful Hausmannian stone mansions which contain elegant and often sizeable apartments. Quite a number of organisations have their offices in this area, including the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE), and there are a number of foreign embassies as well. At Ternes there is a lovely shopping area frequented by the well heeled and those of us who like to faire du leche-vitrine (window shop); well, okay then, I may have indulged in a purchase or two. (I can recommend a shoe shop there.) Walking a little further east you head into the Batignolles area which is populated by young couples/families with children; here they are called “Bobos” (Bohemian-bourgeois, or roughly translated as yuppies). With this gentrification the area has become trendy, with lots of chic little boutiques, like the optometrist I wrote about. Moving further east into Epinettes; this was once an industrial area and is now described as working/middle class with increasing numbers of young families. It is the grimy end – but as I said it has its own real world charm.
The 17th is only about 3.5 km across the widest axis on the west-east route – so a relatively easy walk from our place to the Arc de Triomphe – and according to Google maps it is 1.5km across on its north-south axis. All up its land size is 5.7square kilometres and in that space it holds a population of 170,000 people. That means its population density is 28,000 people per square kilometre. Just to put that in perspective for you, according to Wikipedia, Wellington’s urban population density is 800 people per square kilometre, and Christchurch is 830.
It means the only choice here is to live in an apartment. There’s no room for outside spaces other than the city parks and gardens. The parks are treasures; they are dotted here and there and are very pretty, well maintained and very well used. The largest near us is Martin Luther King Park (aka Parc Clichy Batignolles). Even yesterday afternoon when it was 2.7 degrees (Celsius) there were lots of kids playing, all wrapped up with coats, hats, gloves and scarves. I was there too taking a turn around the park because the sunshine had come out after a grey sleety morning. Every day you will see parents and nannies out with their babies and kids to escape their tiny apartments. Square Batignolles is another lovely green space and has the added attraction of nice cafes on its border.
My favourite park from earlier visits to Paris is Parc Monceau on the edge of the 17th (it’s actually in the 8th). I feel very Parisian when I wander through this park and admire the gardens and statues and think about all the people who have enjoyed this place. Claude Monet painted 5 paintings here; beautiful, romantic impressionist scenes…… I only have winter photos to show you, but I will be here in spring and summer for more.