Monday, 19 March 2012

Historic Paris - Day 9

A simple but decent breakfast spread is available for guests of City Village Hostel at a small and cosy dining area located on the ground floor of the building. Guests can also request for a passcode from the reception to access the free wifi while helping themselves to the selection of freshly baked croissants and hot coffee.
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After checking out of our room, we stored our luggage at the hostel's luggage storage area where each bag is individually tagged and checked by both the receptionist and the guest. The baggage is then placed in a locked storeroom under the care of the hostel's staff.

In a city where the bus and métro routes are seamlessly integrated and any form of duplication between the two modes of transport religiously removed by RATP and the authorities to optimise the use of resources, RATP route 30 is a notable exception as it duplicates a significant portion of the métro line M2 from Anvers to the Arc de Triomphe (Charles de Gaulle Étoile). Despite the long headway of 20 minutes on a Sunday morning, it was worthwhile waiting for the bus as it offered a more friendly commuting experience with a view of the streets and light loading on the bus, instead of having to negotiate flights of staircase to travel in a claustrophobic and crammed environment of the métro.
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Interior of the Irisbus Citelis Line. Although being in service for only two years and intended as an improvement over the aging Renault Agora fleet, the build quality left much to be desired as it was rattling badly with a poorly sounding engine.
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Arc de Triomphe & Porte de Champerret

The Arc de Triomphe is located in the middle of Place Charles de Gaulle, the world’s largest traffic roundabout, otherwise historically known as the Place de l'Étoile (“Square of the Star”) as it is the meeting point of twelve straight avenues (and three arrondissements). It was renamed in 1970 following the death of General and President Charles de Gaulle. It is still often referred to by its original name, and the nearby métro station retains the designation Charles de Gaulle - Étoile.

The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his imperial victories, but remained unfinished when he started to experience defeats – at first battles and then whole wars. The completion of the Jean Chalgrin designed monument was thus delayed until 1836 during the reign of Louis Philippe. Four years later, Napoleon’s funeral procession passed beneath it, on its way to his burial in Les Invalides. Standing at 50m high, the arch is now the customary starting point for victory parades and celebrations.

The light traffic in the roundabout and low pedestrian volume at the early hour before the Arc de Triomphe was opened at 10am presented us the opportunity to get “clean” photos of the monument without throngs of tourists.
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Our original plan to camp for photos of buses at the roundabout turned out to be less productive than we thought as unfavourable traffic conditions conspired with the intermittent burst of sunlight on the overcast day meant that the bulk of the unobstructed photos were not bathed in sunlight.

A Setra S416GT coach operated by Keolis on behalf of Les Cars Air France. The company provides a premium airport shuttle service for travellers who wish to avoid the stressful public transportation system when commuting between the two major airports and the city centre. The Charles de Gaulle - Étoile to Charles de Gaulle airport service is one of the four routes operated by the company and it costs €10.50 for an adult one way ticket that is purchased online through their website.
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An Italian registered Neoplan Tourliner V8 operated by Castro dei Volstri under the Bus Service branding.
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German built coaches such as Setra and Neoplan are a firm favourite among the tour operators and French designed/built coaches such as Irisbus and Renault were few and far between. A Kompass Komfort Setra S328DT with a full load of German tourists was one of the many Setra double deck coaches photographed at the roundabout.
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A Luxembourg registered Mercedes Benz Sprinter adorned in the attractive burgundy livery of Voyages Emile Weber.
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The Renault Agora S is the most common model and account for over 40% of RATP's citybus fleet. A total of 1645 units of the diesel version were introduced over several batches between 1996 and 2002 with increasingly stringent emission standards.
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Out of the twelve roads feeding into the roundabout, nine are served by public buses. Thankfully, layout maps are placed at the bus stops which we used to quickly locate the correct stop for our bus, and avoided the confusion which we had at Place Gambetta on the previous day. Taking into account that the bus was introduced in 1999, the lack of obvious rattling seemed to confirm its more superior built quality than its successor Irisbus Citelis. However, the Voith gearbox of the Renault Agora S did not offer an enthusing ride as it was identifiable only by the high pitch idling sound but not the signature “whistling” of the retarder.
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Porte de Champerret is located at the north-western fringe of Paris and was named after a gate in the Thiers Wall which had existed as a defensive installation in the 19th century. The triangular bus terminal is co-located with the underground métro station and serves three urban and three suburban routes.

The main draw at Champerret for us were the Renault R312 buses on RATP routes 163 and 165. Introduced as a successor to the iconic Saviem/Renault SC10 in 1988, 1594 units of the R312 were eventually produced over the next 8 years for RATP before it was superseded by the low floor Renault Agora in 1996. With its modern styling and efficient mechanical arrangement, the Renault R312 quickly became a firm favourite among operators and passengers alike and had served as the basis on which newer models like the Renault Agora and Irisbus Citelis were developed from.
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One of the key passenger-friendly features of the Renault R312 is the flat saloon floor throughout the length of the bus. This allowed for a neat and clutter-free interior was achieved through the unique placement of the 9,834 cc 6 cylinder Renault engine at the rear of the bus.
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We had also studied the routes taken by routes 163 and 165 in the vicinity of the terminal and identified a favourable location for nearside photos of Service 165. Fleet number 6229 was photographed working a shortworking variant of 165 (indicated by a diagonal stroke across the service number) to Asnieres Robert Lavergne. The final units of Renault R312s were due for withdrawal at the time of our visit and were the only non-wheelchair-accessible buses (WAB) in Paris. With the full withdrawal of the Renault R312s in end 2011, RATP now operates a full WAB fleet.
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Champerret is also served by PC1 and PC3 which can trace their origins to the Petite Ceinture (“little belt”) railway. The railway line was opened in 1852 to provide circular connection between the main railway stations within the fortified walls of Paris city and was closed in 1934 due to declining traffic over the years. The PC bus service was introduced as replacement and plied a complete circular route along the fringe of the city with layover at Porte d’Ivry. In October 1999, the service was split into three overlapping services, designated PC1, PC2 and PC3, to improve reliability due to increased vehicular traffic affecting bus operations. An Irisbus Citelis 18m was photographed on service PC3 at the same traffic junction.
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Owing to time constraints, we had to forgo a ride on the Renault R312 and backtracked our way to Arc de Triomphe on a service 92 Renault Agora.
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Being located in the middle of a busy roundabout, the only safe way to the base of the arch was to use the underpass via the métro / RER station. As it was still relatively early, there were no queues and we were able to obtain a small discount off the admission ticket (€7.90) by presenting our Paris Viste Card. In the centre of the arch flickers the eternal flame on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a victim of World War I buried on 11 November 1920. It is symbolically re-ignited every day at 1830hrs.
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To our disappointment, the lift was out of service and we were faced with a mind-spinning climb up a 284 step spiral staircase.
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A small museum is located at the middle level and offers a much needed rest area for visitors to catch their breath and regain their sense of bearing after the intense corkscrew-like climb up the spiral staircase. A pair of vending machines dispenses souvenir medallions produced by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux (Centre of National Monuments) for €2 each (left). Toilets are also available at this level but there are only 2 cubicles (right). At the time of our visit, only one was operational and a long queue soon formed as a user had decided to claim his personal 'triumph' by hogging the toilet for close to 20 minutes!
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Inscriptions on the wall remind visitors that the area is under constant surveillance and it will be ill-advised to carve their names or messages on the wall to mark their visit (left)!
One of the several sculptures that formed part of the exhibition area (right).
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We were rewarded with an expansive view of the Paris city centre from the observation platform located on the top of the Arc de Triomphe after scaling the final 40 steps from the exhibition area. Looking to the northwest, the Avenue Charles de Gaulle and Avenue de la Grande Armée forms a pencil straight line that leads to the landmark Grande Arch of the La Défense financial district across the Seine River.
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The Arc de Triomphe is aligned to face the famed Avenue des Champs-Elysées (the branch on the right in the photo below) such that on 2 December, the date which marks Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, the sun sets in the direction of the Champs-Élysées through the arch and creates a spectacular halo around the building. Tourists from all over the world throng the broad avenue in search of French designer goods which are often cheaper and feature more updated inventories than back at their home cities.
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The Eiffel Tower lies to the south of the Arc de Triomphe by the banks of the River Seine.
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After descending from the observation platform, visitors are channelled into another section of the museum which primarily functions as a high end gift shop. Several artworks and a scale model of the Arc de Triomphe are also exhibited at this area.
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By another extension of Murphy's Law, the downward riding elevator at the other side of the arch was also not serviceable and visitors were made to descend through another 284 steps of the tight narrow spiral staircase to the ground level. One of us decided to cross the roundabout at grade to get to the métro station in a shorter time while the rest of us who were less adventurous used the underpass. Unfortunately for the poor signage, we ended up at the métro station exit along Avenue des Champs-Élysées and incurred unnecessary detour to get to the platform.

Métro Line 6 plies a semi-circular route from Étoile to Nation around the southern part of the city above boulevards formed by ancient city walls (boulevards extérieurs) via Bir-Hakeim which is one of the several stations located near the Eiffel Tower. A complete loop line similar to the Circle Line of London Underground was originally envisaged, but technical difficulties forced a separation of the circle into two lines.
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Almost all Paris métro lines follow roads, having been built by the cut-and-cover method near the surface. Charles de Gaulle- Étoile is the western terminal station of M 6 and trains turn-around using a loop which follows the Place Charles de Gaulle roundabout above it. The open layout at the aging underground métro stations also mean that passengers could see, feel and hear the train approaching before it even pulls into the platform!
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The Spanish solution is adopted at Charles de Gaulle- Étoile M 6 station, where the single track is flanked by two platforms to segregate boarding and alighting passengers.
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Eiffel Tower

The most distinctive symbol of Paris and one of the most recognizable structures in the world, the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 in conjunction with the Universal Exposition, which was held to mark the centenary of the French Revolution. Designed by the engineer Gustave Eiffel and originally meant to be a temporary addition to the skyline, it faced massive opposition from artistic and literary elite, and was snidely referred to as the “metal asparagus”. However, its graceful symmetry soon made it a star attraction and the tower proved to be an ideal platform for transmission antennas. At 324m high (including the TV antenna), it was the world’s tallest building until it was surpassed by New York’s Empire State Building in 1931. However, this figure can vary by as much as 15cm due to thermal expansion of the tower’s 7300 tonnes of iron (and 2700 tonnes of non-metal components), which are held together by 2.5 million rivets.

In contrast to most other métro lines, a significant portion of M6 runs above ground. In particular, Pont de Bir-Hakeim which spans across the Seine River between Passy and Bir-Hakeim stations offers a good view of the Eiffel Tower.
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Despite its popularity as a tourist attraction, none of the métro stations are well positioned to serve the Eiffel Tower. Bir-Hakeim / Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel stations are the nearest but are located almost 600m away – perhaps such walking distance is considered acceptable in the European climate. However, it also meant that we had to run to Eiffel Tower from the métro station in order not to be late for our reserved time slot and possibly having to join the queue as walk-in visitors. Walk-in visitors typically have to spend up to two hours by first standing in line to purchase the tickets and next to queue for the lifts. As such, the long criss-crossing queues at the base of the Eiffel Tower is a common sight on a late Sunday morning.
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After much confusion asking around, we finally managed to find the correct queue located at the East Tower for visitors with advance reservations. It then occurred to us that the scheduled time slot is only a rough indication as it is limited by the capacity of the lifts. After all, this is France, not Switzerland where punctuality is a religion. At the control point, the barcode on the electronic ticket (either as softcopy on mobile phone or self-printed hardcopy) is scanned and cancelled electronically and a manual bag check is conducted by the staff for security reasons.
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An ascent to the top of the Eiffel Tower involves two separate sets of lifts - an 'inclined' lift that serves the first (57m high) platform and the second platform (115m high). A second standard lift then whisks visitors from the second platform to the third platform located at a height of 276m. It is possible for visitors buy a reduced price ticket to manually hike up the stairs to the second platform of the Eiffel Tower (360 steps to the first platform and followed by an additional 359 steps to the second platform) if they choose not to wait for the lift.

The double deck 'inclined' elevator cars that serve the first and second platform can carry a maximum of 92 passengers and weigh 22 tonnes each. They are operated by an improved rope and hydraulic system where a 320 kW electrically driven oil hydraulic pump which drives a pair of hydraulic motors mounted on a separate carriage assembly. (left) This is counterbalanced by three large counterweights of 200 tonnes each sitting on top of hydraulic rams which doubled up as accumulators for the water which is used as the hydraulic fluid. (right)
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It takes an average of 8mins 50s for each lift to do a round trip, with the lift spending 65s at each floor and an average journey time of one minute between the platforms (left). The lifts used to be manually operated by an operator perched precariously underneath the lift cars before the entire system was modernised and automated in 1986. Today, a dummy is placed in the position where the lift operator used to be at as a link to the past operational history of the unique lifts (right).
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A significant amount of time during the visit was spent waiting for the lifts, in particular the second one which leads to the top level and provides ample opportunities for the pickpockets to earn a living from unsuspecting visitors.
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The scale of the expansive Champ de Mars could also be appreciated from the south-eastern side at the second platform of the Eiffel Tower. Originally meant as a parade ground for the officer cadets from the Ecole Militaire that stands at the end of the gardens, the grounds had hosted numerous events in the past such as the 1889 World Fair for which the Eiffel Tower was built.
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The experience of being able to stand on the topmost platform and enjoy an unrivalled view of Paris is certainly worth all the amount of waiting and jostling at the lower levels! A bar at the platform serves flutes of Champagne to couples who may have a sudden wave of romance while admiring the view and huddling in each other's warmth from the cold and gusty winds. The stately Esplanade du Trocadéro and its beautifully manicured Jardins du Tracadéro as well as the forested park of Bois de Boulogne could be viewed from the north-western side of the platform. A wire mesh wraps around the platform both for the safety of the visitors on the platform and the people below the platform. However, the gaps in the mesh are large enough to comfortably accommodate most SLR lenses.
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The view from the south-western side reveals the Seine being bisected by the narrow artificial island of Île aux Cygnes which was created to protect the port of Grenelle in 1827. Visitors can stroll down the tree-lined l'Allée des Cygnes and view a one-fourth scale replica of the Statue of Liberty in New York at the western tip of the island (it also faces west towards its counterpart in the USA). The monument was inaugurated three years after its counterpart in the USA and was given to the city of Paris by the American community of Paris to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution in 1889.
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View from the north-eastern side of the platform. Bathed in the overhead noontime sun, the Arc de Triomphe could be prominently seen in the top left hand corner of the photo.
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Gustav Eiffel had included a small room on the top platform of the Eiffel Tower in his design and it was used to host intimate receptions with prominent guests. This reconstructed scene depicts a meeting between Gustav Eiffel and the renowned American inventor Thomas Edison on the sidelines of the 1889 World Fair in the company of Gustave Eiffel's daughter, Claire. A copy of the phonograph machine was presented to Eiffel during this meeting.
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An enclosed gallery located below the top observation platform indicates the direction and distance to other major cities in the world. It also houses the queue for visitors awaiting the non-inclined lift to head back down to the second platform.
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Many of the large mechanical assemblies such as the flywheels are still in excellent operational condition despite being installed more than a century ago! (Top Left)
Queue for the lift down to ground level from the north tower.(Top Right)
The operator console for the lift at the north tower. This electric lift has the largest capacity of the lifts and was built by Schneider-Crusot in 1965 and subsequently modernised in 1995.(Bottom Right)
Numerous signs warn visitors to the presence of pickpockets working their trade at the second platform. (Bottom Left)
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Video of the lift journey from the second observation platform (115m) to the first observation platform (57m). A post office is also located at the first observation platform.


Video of the lift journey from the first observation platform (57m) to the ground level.


Despite expecting the food from the nearby kiosk (Restaurant de Eiffel Tower) to be expensive, we decided to join the long queue in the interest of time to grab a quick bite. Roasted Chicken Baguette Sandwich (€6.50), French Fries (€3.50).
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We decided to take service 42 directly to Opéra instead of métro as the latter option requires transfer and a longer walking distance back to the métro station from the Eiffel Tower. We also made full use of the opportunity to continue on our lunch while on board the bus although the facing seats favoured by RATP meant that it could prove to be a rather awkward situation when the bus does an unexpected emergency braking!
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Opéra

The Opéra National de Paris Garnier was designed by Charles Garnier for Napoleon III and construction started in 1862. Combining different architecture styles which range from Classical to Baroque and employing a unique mixture of materials such as marble and bronze, the structure is further decorated with elaborate columns, friezes and statues on the exterior which gives it its distinctive appearance.
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Details of the numerous statues and fittings at the opulent Opéra National de Paris Garnier. The bulk of the operas are however, staged at Opéra Nationale de Paris Bastille today.
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Opéra is a also a major bus hub with 9 out of 59 RATP operated urban routes calling in the vicinity of the theatre and métro station. The similarity in the exterior styling between the Renault Agora (left) and the Irisbus Citelis (right) could be clearly seen in this side by side comparison photo!
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Apart from the volume of bus services, a relatively large variety of bus models could also be seen at Opéra. A RATP MAN Lion's City G was photographed working route 95 with a message on its electronic destination sign reminding passengers to validate their tickets the moment they board the bus.
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RATP operates a dedicated fleet of 16 MAN Lion’s City GL articulated buses on the Roissy Bus service to Charles de Gaulle airport. The Lion’s City GL is 18.75m long instead of 17.98m for a regular Lion’s City G articulated bus.
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Paris L'Open Tour is one of the three major companies that operate open top double deck on sightseeing routes around the city. The company employs a fleet of mainly Neoplan open top double deck buses that are painted in the company's striking lime-green livery. The operator is affiliated with Gray Line Tours and offer a 2 day pass where passengers can choose to hop on and hop off at any of the 50 stops on the four sightseeing routes.
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Les Cars Rouges operate a unique fleet of East Lancs bodied Volvo B10M and B7L double deckers on its single open top sightseeing route from Trocadéro. Some of these double decks are also equipped with twin staircases to facilitate passenger movement in the bus.
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An Austria registered Neoplan double deck touring coach operating for Bata Reisen. The Neoplan Skyliners are readily identified by the swept back glazed windscreen on the upper deck and generous use of curves in the exterior styling of the bodywork. Although it had underwent a series of design changes over its 48 year production run, the basic configuration had remained unchanged and bears testament to the robustness and longevity of the product.
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Following which, we hopped on a M 8 métro for the short ride to the southern part of the city centre to spot the two revitalised tram lines.
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Balard & Parisian Trams

Balard station is named after the French chemist Antoine Jerome Balard who discovered bromine. It is the southern terminal of M 8 and has the less common island platform layout. The MF 77 rolling stock used on M 8 was originally designed for extension of the métro into the suburbs, hence it was the first Paris métro rolling stock to feature curved bodywork with wider mid-section.
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The MF 77 rolling stock was introduced on M 8 in 1980 and the original interior is significantly better maintained than some of the other older rolling stocks. MF 77 trains on M 13 are currently undergoing mid-life refurbishment and it is expected that those on M 8 will be coming next.
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Street entrance to the underground Balard métro station (left). On the ground level, we spotted a Parisian traffic rule that made sense for once - it is compulsory for pedestrians to obey the traffic light signals and trams have priority at the level crossing junction. (right) However, it is still a common occurrence for trams to routinely honk at errant pedestrians and cyclists when approaching a stop!
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A RATP Alstom Citadis 402 approaching Balard station on route T3 while running on lawn tracks laid out in the road median. Tramway T3 was introduced on 16 December 2006, and is the first modern tramway in Paris proper, after an absence for 68 years. It is also known as the Tramway des Maréchaux Sud because it follows the southern portion of Boulevards des Maréchaux (Boulevards of the Marshals) that comprises of a series of boulevards that encircle Paris along the boundary of the former Thiers Wall.
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After a few photos of T3 trams, we proceeded to the parallel road just beyond the Boulevard Périphérique to spot Tramway T2 as the directional signs at Balard métro station indicated that these two lines were in close proximity at Balard.

A retired French Air Force Mirage IIIE posed as the gate guard at the compounds of the DGA (Direction Générale de L'Armement) which functions as a procurement agency to the French military.
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There is always something special about spotting familiar service numbers in a foreign city and I was quite pleased to spot RATP service 39 by chance at Balard. As with Singapore's service 39 which fleet mainly comprises of the most common single deck model in SBS Transit's fleet, RATP's service 39 fleet is also chiefly made up of Renault Agora which make up over 40% of the operator's fleet.
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Tramway T2 plies between the La Défense financial district and Porte de Vincennes in southern Paris, largely along the western bank of the Seine River in the département of Hauts-de-Seine. It was opened in 1997, mostly from the conversion of a former SNCF suburban railway line. Due to the high capacity provided by coupled pairs of Alstom Citadis 302, the headway of T2 was rather long at 12 minutes. Other than the lower frequency, it was also more challenging to photograph T2 trams due to the length, as each single set of 5-car Alstom Citadis 302 is 32.2m long.
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After one final photo of a T2 tram approaching the stop along lawn tracks, we returned to Balard to take a short ride on T3 to Porte de Versailles. Unlike Swiss trams which allow boarding and alighting at all doors, RATP configured the Citadis 402 with designated doors for boarding and alighting.
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The bright and airy interior of the Alstom Citadis 402 tram. As it is to be expected of modern trams, the Citadis 402 features a full low-floor interior for the convenience of passengers and PIWs (Passenger in Wheelchair).
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The Paris Fair is an annual trade event held in Paris between the last week of April and the first week of May since 1904. Due to its popularity, a purpose-built venue was constructed in 1923 and was known as the Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles (left). Today, the venue had evolved into a modern exhibition centre which plays host to major trade fairs throughout the year and as a premier location coveted by musicians and artistes to stage their concerts.
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A mural at the concourse level of the Porte des Versailles métro station reflects the busy Paris Fair scene in the past. The old Parisian tram is also featured prominently at the bottom of the mural and Tramway T2 now terminates besides the new Paris Expo complex.
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We carried on our journey on the métro line M 12 to Place de la Concorde from Porte des Versailles.
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The older rolling stock in RATP's métro fleet feature 'semi-automatic' metal sliding doors where passengers have to flick a lever to spring open the door at stations. The speed and force at which the doors slide open can prove daunting for many first time users but it would soon prove to be fun to operate due to its novelty! The doors also have to keep the cold draught out during cooler days by keeping the doors closed if there are no passengers boarding or alighting from the particular exit (left).
A typical steep staircase at the older métro stations. Transport enthusiasts would find Paris métro stations to be a very fertile ground for collecting tickets as discarded "t+" tickets of varying conditions are strewn about in generous quantities at the staircases and corridors (right).
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Place de la Concorde

The curved walls of the Concorde station are tastefully adorned with square letter tiles, which together form the words to the Déclaration des droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen (Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen) from the French Revolution.
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The historic Place de la Concorde is the largest public square in Paris, measuring an area of 8.64ha. The Place was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1755 as a moat-skirted octagon between the Champs-Élysées to the west and the Tuileries Gardens to the east. Decorated with statues and fountains, the area was named Place Louis XV to honour the king at that time.

One of the many ornate lamp posts at the entrance to the Jardin des Tuileries. This formal garden used to form the royal gardens for old Palais des Tuileries in the 17th century.
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The 3300-year old pink granite obelisk in the centre of the square was presented to France in 1831 by Muhammad Ali, viceroy and pasha of Egypt. Weighing 230 tonnes and towering 23m over the cobblestones, it once stood in the Temple of Ramses at Luxor. It arrived in Paris on 21 December 1883 and three years later, on 25 October 1886, King Louis Philippe placed it in the centre of Place de la Concorde, where a guillotine used to stand during the French Revolution (left).
Given the technical limitations of the day, transporting the obelisk from Egypt to France was no easy feat: on the pedestal are drawn diagrams explaining the complex machinery that was used for the transportation and the eventual erection of the obelisk at its current location (right).
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The eight female statues adorning the four corners of the square represent France’s largest cities in the 18th century outside Paris – Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Lille, Rouen, Nantes and Brest. The statues sculpted by James Pradier are located on the north-eastern corner of the square and represent the cities of Strasbourg (foreground) and Lille (background).
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Ringed by magnificent palaces, the elegant statues and monuments in the historic Place de la Concorde provides the perfect photographic opportunities for newlywed Asian couples seeking a romantic European wedding experience.
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Despite their association with developing countries, trishaws and auto-rickshaws have gained novelty in Europe in recent years. Hanif Cabs operate these traditional modes of transport on sightseeing tours around Paris.
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A Paris L'Open Tour Volvo open top double deck with a Disneyland Paris advertisement passing by the Place de la Concorde.
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One of the unique features of the Paris métro system is that one need not pass through a fare gate when leaving the paid area at certain stations. Instead, a complex system of turnstile controlled exits and corridors are used and are sometimes integrated together with the surround buildings and infrastructure. It could be a frustrating experience to locate the correct 'hole in the ground' which leads to the station entrance as it may be hidden at a blind spot behind a street corner as it was the case for Place de la Concorde!

Instead of transferring to M 2 at Pigalle, we continued on the M 12 to Abbesses as the station is nominated as one of the most beautiful métro stations by the Parislogue travel guide.
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Platform area at Abbesses métro station. The direction of the métro line is beautifully painted on the tiled walls at each end of the subway tunnel.
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Abbesses was the first métro station with elevators which we had encountered thus far and the special arrangement was a result of the station being located 36m below the ground on the western side of Montmartre hill.
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The main feature of Abbesses station is the art nouveau design with glass canopy at the entrance. In fact, it is one of the only two intact métro entrances that were designed by Hector Guimard. Inspired by the organic designs found in nature, many métro stations all over the city feature variants of his signature art noveau métro station entrances.
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From Abbesses station, it was a short walk back to the hostel to pick up our luggage in preparation for our journey to Paris-Orly airport and embark on the next segment of our trip.

Next Post: Highlights of KM477

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Paris Cosmopolitan - Day 8

1 comment:

Jim and Pauline said...

Hi,Koh Hoe
My name is Jim Craig,I am currently putting together a new website http://www.about-paris.com/ and wondered if you would allow me to use some of your very good photographs.