12:52:49 amCategories: Places, Spaces

Le square

When I think about it, one of my favourite things to do in Paris is to hang out in squares (public gardens) after school time.

What’s so nice about that? It seems like all children go to their local public garden with their parents around four or five o’clock in the afternoon. I’ve seen this neighbourhood phenomenon many places around Paris. The children run around and play with each other, while their parents chat, read or just watch the children play. It’s such a nice and neighbourhood-ly thing to do. After an hour or two, depending on the weather, they all leave and pick up a baguette in their local bakery on their way home.

Today it’s been wonderful weather (at least 20°). After I had a coffee at a bistrot at Place de Ménilmontant (partly in order to check out if my suggestion yesterday that the ethnic and gender mix is even here (I was correct, at least it was even around 16h30 on a Monday…)), I walked up the hill to my local square and had a Quiche thon et tomate on a shady bench, right in time to be reminded of how pleasant life in Paris can be for its inhabitants. This public garden worked exactly as the ones I knew well from my stay in Le Marais (4eme Arr.): In Marais there were two perfectly gardened and groomed squares next to each other; one small reserved (by some tacit consent, obviously) for readers, people just wanting to sit quietly by themselves for a while and those speaking in a low voice, and one larger where noisy children ran freely around watched by their parents. (The level of noise children in Paris make when they play seems to be markedly higher than the equivalent level in Norway, - according to someone who is more expert than I on such issues. An nonauthoritative guess would be that there is more discipline in schools here, thus more need to rebel elsewhere…??). The local square here is so lager that it can incorporate both usages, but also here the reading area seem to be kept neatly separated from the play zone (this must be confirmed by more visits to the park…).

I’m not going to write about ethnic mix today, just suggesting that it does not seem to be as even as at Place de Ménilmontant, but far more even than Porte de Montreuil, St. Sulpice, Canal St. Martin or heavily gentrified Marais (an area I’ll return to later). Class mix is a complicated issue I haven’t even started to probe yet… Concerning gender; women were in majority accompanying children, but there were quite a few fathers as well (of all ethnic backgrounds, for those who are interested in such details…).

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