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The 12th district is difficult to describe. Old 19th-century quarters, interesting modern office and appartment buildings, large boulevards and a total absence of rectangular angles: I always get lost when I walk in the 12th district. For that reason the 12th district is a good place to wander on Sundays.


           11th        20th
  Bast___________________________Pl___________________.
   |Opé   Fbg St-Antoine       Nation  C.Vincennes    |
   | \                                                |
4th|  \                                               |
   |   \__Av.Dau                                      |
   |    \ ---___smesni                                |
   |     \      ---___l                              | 
   \      \           ---___######################   | 
  \  \     Gare             ---               ##     |   
    \  \   Lyon                                 #    |  
      \Se\                                          |Saint
        \in\                                        |Mandé
          \e \                                     /      
            \  \                                  /#######
              Pt Bercy##                         /########
                \  \ ####                       /#########
                  \  \ ####                    /#Bois#####
      13th          \  \ ####                 /##de#######
                      \  \ ####             ./##Vin#######
                        \  \ St.Em         /###Cennes#####
                          \  \            /   ############
                            \  \        ./               
                              \  \     /                
                                \  \  /  Charenton-le-Pont
                                  \ \/

Everything in italics is outside the district. ### signs indicate parks or forests. The 12th district is the 9th most populated district in Paris with 136,591 inhabitants in 1990. It's the 5th largest district (6.38 km2), not including the Bois de Vincennes.

Opéra Bastille

The 12th district starts at Place de la Bastille, more thoroughly described in the 11th district. The part that belongs to the 12th district hosts the Opéra Bastille, the second most important Opera House in Paris. Although it was built a few years ago, some parts of it are already falling down: in rue de Lyon, you can see safety nets installed on the wall to secure the slabs.

Along the Seine

Along the Seine, everything is modern:

  • Office buildings in the north-west part, until Pont de Bercy. The most remarkable building is Ministère de l'Economie. It looks like a panther dipping one of its legs into the river: it's the only building in Paris to be partially built above the Seine.
  • A park and a leisure area south-east of Pont de Bercy. First a sport hall covered with grass, used for all kinds of sports, including the Paris-Bercy tennis tournament every year. Then a large park, with large lawns and many interesting nooks and crannies, a characteristic of modern Parisian parks.

    South-east of the park, Cour Saint-Emilion is a very original pedestrian street. The buildings only have a ground floor, and their architecture imitates the wine halls depots that existed here before (you can still see railroads on the ground). All of them are shops, bars or restaurants. You can find mostly exotic, useless and expensive things in this street. I recommend the Club Méditérranée shop, where you can sit and read their books, or have good sushis. At the end of the street stand one of the biggest cinemas in Paris.

The rest of the district is a complicated network of streets and avenues which cross at random, without any apparent logic. Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, which starts at Place de la Bastille and marks the limit with the 20th district is the quarter of furniture shops.

A very original promenade, known as the "Coulée verte" or "Promenade Plantée", lets you walk in a kind of 2.5 kilometer-long garden. It starts with an aqueduct along Avenue Daumesnil. This aqueduct used to bring water to Paris; now you can walk above it, 15 meters above the street. At the eastern end of the aqueduct, the promenade passes through a lawn full of almost naked Parisians between May and September. Then it continues for more than one kilometer, passing either above or under the streets: you never see one car.

For all of you geeks, the easter end of the aqueduct is where you'll come to buy your computer or any part of it. Surcouf, under the archs of the aqueduct, is a gigantic department store that sells an incredible variety of hardware and software components. It's extremely busy and noisy on Saturday afternoons. I'll call it the Louvre of Geeks. But it's not nessarily the cheapest: many people come to Surcouf to get information about the products, then buy in the many little shops in the neighborhood.

Bois de Vincennes is worth a walk per itself. It's one of the two large forests in Paris, with the 16th district's Bois de Boulogne. Both have lakes and prostitution. Bois de Vincennes also contains a zoo famous for its Monkeys' Rock.

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