City of past versus ‘future’
This is the second in a four part series of articles on lessons learned from a trip to the European river cities of Frankfurt, Paris, Lyon and Strasbourg.
Upon arriving in Paris, you quickly realize that apart from also being on a river, it has little in common with Calgary.
In fact, the two cities could be on different Plan Its (oops, I mean planets).
A city with a metropolitan area of nearly 12 million people — with about two million in the city, itself — Paris is a place of celebration, monuments and decoration.
Even the trees are pruned and planted to reflect a sense of celebration along the boulevards.
Like marching band members, soldiers or sentinels, they are precisely positioned.
In comparison, Calgary is a more informal — dare I say “wild” — city where our trees are allowed grow in whatever gnarly way nature determines.
When we do prune the poplars, we butcher them into submission, rather than shape them into sculptural objects.
Our rivers’ edges are also “wild” with trees, bushes, rocks, mud and trails. This is in sharp contrast with Paris, where the Seine has been tamed into a canal for tourist boats.
The Seine is slow and brown, not nearly as dynamic as Calgary’s Bow and Elbow Rivers with their every-changing palette of colours, and shorelines lined with beavers, ducks, bald eagles, osprey and other wildlife.
However, when it comes to public transit, Paris is the wild city of the two, especially so when you use the Metro, or subway, with its maze of 13 interconnecting lines.
Paris has more subways than Calgary has freeways.
Fireworks surround the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the ‘City of Light.’