Saturday, 4 February 2012

Classic Old Paris Map

POSTED IN:  ~ Places History Railways ~ Maps

Classic Old Map of Paris
from a book found here

A delightful find through unrepeatable circumstances (you know what surfing's like) and from a book, admittedly only a few decades old, but delightful nevertheless.

All the more so because its proximity to our days allows us to easily recognise most of what's there, while quickly spotting what hasn't yet appeared.

The most obvious edifices missing from this plan, from a book published in 1948, are the monumental Mitterand projects. Look as you may you won't find any indication of the Bibliothèque Nationale Française (the BNF, also known as the Bibliothèque François Mitterand), however had you look.

Nor will you find the Louvre Pyramid, or the future space-aged Science park up in the north-east of the city. What you do see up there, though, are the chilling Abattoirs Généraux: the Municipal Slaughterhouses.

And, of course, the controversial Centre Pompidou, the horrendous Tour Montparnasse and the scarcely less eyesore-inflicting Palais des Congrès at Porte Maillot are blissfully absent from the map.

My favourite part of this Nouveau Paris Monumental, however, is the wonderfully accurate and nostalgic trace of the old Petite Ceinture railway (the Little Belt) which used to encircle the city. Although long fallen into desuetude, it is in the throes of an admittedly difficult rebirth in the form of sections available to the public as nature walks or new parks, and parts of the adjacent land being turned into shared community gardens.

Two of my favourite vestiges of the old Paris circular railway are the dark, disused overhead bridges you often come across in the outlying arrondissements, and the deep railway cuttings you can often spot by looking over the edge of an unexpected bridge in the road and even in some of the city parks. It's easy to see where you will find all of these things by clicking to enlarge the map below and then heading out with your camera or notebook in hand in case a sudden nostalgic wave of inspiration hits you like, well, a runaway train. (You can find the top quality version of the Nouveau Paris Monumental map version, originally found at, on my Paris Set Me Free site here.)

(Click on the title page above for full details of this old book, no longer in print.)


* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

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