NORTH AND EAST
Northern approach to Paris: N1
If you debark at Boulogne or Calais or deplane at le Touquet, and follow the signs rigidly, this is the way you will come into Paris. It is the Mile End Road, but wider – the centre is now a motorway – nobler, shabbier and grimmer. It points due south from Saint-Denis past a vast gasworks, and is called, of all things, the avenue President Wilson. It compels admiration in the end for such a frank avowal of an industrial city: exactly what it is and no more, as naked and direct as a railway track.
Paris Neighborhood Map Photo Gallery
And talking of railway tracks, in the Depot de la Plaine there is a very strange structure. It is basically a concrete loading hopper; but this one has put on concrete turrets and pinnacles as though it was a Second Empire villa in Neuilly.
(Visible from the rue de Bailly, a side-turning to the west, just south of the rue du Landy. By rail it is much easier to see, for it is right beside the main tracks in from the Channel ports towards the Gare du Nord.)
Paris Map With Airports Saint-Denis
There is nothing like this in England. It is like finding Winchester Cathedral in the middle of Tottenham. The abbey growls out at the gloomy little town, and the town growls back – not angrily, but as the victim of a profound misalliance: the church demands respect, the industrial town feels lumbered. Its own mark is much more Saint-Denys-de-l’Estree, which peers out towards the cathedral from the other end of the town’s narrow main street. It was designed by Viollet-le-Duc and built in 1865; the copious restorer of cathedrals – including this one – acquitted himself well enough, with something of the force of an English architect like Teulon. The inside seems to have been cooled down from its original decor: a pity, when so many medieval churches in France are crying out to be cleaned of their nineteenth-century accretions.