21 February 2009
Off to the right on France’s La Promenade is a small arcade. Passing through the arcade, which is flanked on either side by boutiques, a quiet park offers a chance to partake in one of France’s most essential activities, stopping to soak in the place and people. Though this park looks very little like a typical quay, a riverside platform for loading and unloading of docks, this is how the area is identified. Although, living in the French life for a moment, if the long way round is taken, it will eventually lead to the International Gateway complete with its own quay.Back in the arcade, however, we are offered two paths, “Sortie vers le Quai” and “Sortie vers la Promenade.” In English these translate to “Exit towards the Quay” and “Exit towards Promenade” (Sortie vers la Promenade more accurately translates to Exit towards the Way, but is ignored because of the proper street name). From an architectural standpoint, these exits offer a beautiful insight into a particular view and period in French architecture. Designed to emulate the Paris Metropolitain, or subway, entrances created by Hector Guimard in the late nineteenth-century, are a perfect example of the French Art Nouveau style of architecture. These porticos blend iron and glass into a single monument dedicated to the elegance of a bygone era.Take a moment to examine the delicate detailing created in these arches the next time you are wondering slowly through France in the way of the French, living life with a measured and deliberate pace.