Sunday, January 27, 2008

Day Three: On to Paris

We started our third day of the trip by boarding the TGV in Avignon for a 2.75-hour ride to Paris. One of three recently completed in various French cities and designed by Michel Maillard, an architect in the offices of the French National Railway, the station evokes the spirit of high-speed travel on one of the world's fastest trains.

As the rocky, scrub-dotted landscape of Provence receded while we zoomed northward, we passed through miles and miles (er, I mean, kilometers and kilometers) of farmland surrounding idyllic villages. Signs of the city soon appeared and we found ourselves pulling into the Gare de Lyon. We were picked up and driven to our lodgings at the Hotel Pont Royal, on the Left Bank of the Seine just a block of the Rue St. Germain de Pres.

That evening we were welcomed to Paris by Jean-Paul Viguier and his wife, Annie, at a reception in their apartment in the central city.

On Friday morning we met Viguier at his office, where he just happened to be meeting with the French Minister of Culture, who is gathering information about how her country's top architects might help Paris increase the density of its inner city. Later in the morning, Viguier toured us through several of his urban projects. (In the photo, can you spot the Frenchman?)

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