The Winchester

"Not all those who wander are lost" – Tolkien

That Parisien Loop

without comments

March 2011

With the thrill of Molitor being the presiding memory from our Paris adventure, the desire to tap the keyboard over our  night in the 14th arrondissement was nulled perhaps. London was reminded what it was missing in the  few days proceeding our return and it seemed like business as usual with visitors such as Steve Duncan, Brick Man and Urban Fox arriving at the Brad:pad War-room to partake , other adventures fading into the memory.

Paris’ Metropolitan railway was built years after that of London, the initial mistakes in the difficult cutting of the inaugaral, expensive line from Paddington to Farringdon learned from, along with the frankly ridiculous tube lines that provide the deeper level services in stuffy, overcrowded trains. Stupidly narrow, ‘no clearance’ and difficult to maintain, these are a death trap avoided by all but the hardiest of explorers, friends who I have the utmost respect for.

Paris is different. All of the lines that I’ve seen were built with the same technique,  Well lit with regular alcoves either side of dual running tunnels with walkways at the edge, the situations here allowing the committed dwellers of Paris to partake in and complete their system while service ran around them. It was Dsankt and Co’s commitment to proving that it is possible to explore everything that has helped motivate and push the Consolidation Crew towards completion of the London Underground, the final steps of this goal actually taken by those bolder than I as I type. [this ended in 4 arrests, homes raided, computers, phones, maps and pictures seized and a still uncertain outcome]

The Parisien system expanded with the city and the original lines with their loops at the terminating stations needed lengthening into the expanding suburbs, leaving the odd loop redundant. This was one of them, part of the loop space used for what appeared to be a training station, the tracks in another used to store Spragues, the early trains of the metro.

As we bowled down the administrative section of the loop, paint peeling and the musty, hospital-like smell of dust and disuse lingering in the air, we felt far off, far out. Still not where we wanted to be, we wanted to be at those trains – the rest just didn’t matter. Through a bolted door and another, passing several other chained doors on the way which served only to confuse, eventually our dying torches picking out some rusting track. We’d found it. The lights weren’t on, so we walked through the loop towards the active tracks, hoping that there would be light at some point. The Parisien authorities had attempted to secure the site after a banging party and we expected things to be different to the information from the only source of information we knew about, Dsankt’s post about The One.

We talked of this section of the loop as if it were just an obstacle to our target, but in reality, this was a derp that I imagine many would drive an hour to see. A rotting underground complex reminiscient in ways of wartime bunkers we’ve seen in London and Europe, those devoted to Sub-Brit would be drooling.

Don’t think that Paris’ design makes it an easy system to explore. They take security seriously enough in these tunnels, mainly to protect from grafitti those beautiful white trains that we spent a few hours trying to get into the cabs of, before Marc struck lucky and bounded into the rear car when a train pulled away. How we laughed as he pulled away, waving through the window at us.

The sections of the loop with trains in were exactly what we wanted. Tunnels, trains, solitude. Light! Only in Paris could you expect this sort of environment, the system visible but the history detached just momentarily, hidden behind a grille. Sprague-Thompsons ran in the Metro until the late 1980s, and now are only operational for a few work units. These were left behind in the hands of a preservation group but have been conveniently whole-carred by the illicit masses who got in too. Who are we to judge? This juxtaposition of derelict and infrastructural is beautiful.

The whole point of this activity of ours is to discover, and those noobish ideas of discovering histories is washed away with the sweat we excrete when we’re discovering experiences and emotions. Nostagia is usually a rich ingredient of those experiences we revere, be it the nostalgia for youthful play or the nostalgia of a bygone age we inexplicably aspire to. It’s bollocks really, the discovery we really make is within ourselves  and our own identities, whether we want to go to these places, spend a day driving down to Paris from London and then spending a night playing in the metro before crashing out at Marc’s. Explore Everything? Oui, C’est pour moi!

Written by Winch

April 25th, 2011 at 12:23 am

Posted in Trains

Tagged with , ,

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