A week in Paris

Whenever I attend a tennis tournament, I try to combine tennis and a bit of sightseeing.
I’ve been to Paris many times – I’ve even worked in Paris for a year – so this time I wanted to get off the beaten path, so no touristy places like Champs Elysées or Montmartre, and explore the 12th district (where Bercy is located) and the 13th district (where I stayed for a few days).

12th and 13th districts are much less touristy than central Paris but are nonetheless a fascinating area to explore on foot.

Modern architecture walk

These riverside districts have been in permanent mutation for the past 30 years and are shaping up to be the new architectural face of the capital. If you’re an architecture buff, you should enjoy this walk on the waterfront, from the Pavillon de l’Arsenal to the Parc de Bercy.

Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir

Read the complete article here.

Bercy Village and Parc de Bercy

This area was once devoted to the trade of wine. Next to Cour Saint-Emilion, you can still spot the warehouses, now converted into restaurants, offices, shops and a museum.

The Cinémathèque, designed by Frank Gehry and the POPB, home of the BNP Paribas Masters border the park:

La Cinémathèque Française

POPB

For more pics and infos on Bercy neighbourhood, click here.

Musée des Arts Forains

Even if you don’t like museums, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. This is a must if you want to do something different in Paris.
Housed in a former wine warehouse, the Musée des Arts Forains (Fairground Museum) is a wonderland of vintage carousels, carnival rides and games.

It’s not the traditional museum where you can only watch and can’t touch, here visitors ride on the carousels and try out the other attractions like the waiters’ race.

Musée des arts forains

Musée des arts forains

Musée des arts forains

I really had a great time and for a couple hours I was a kid again.

Butte aux cailles

Full of bars and restaurants, the Butte Aux Cailles is a great place to chill out.

The Butte Aux Cailles district sits on a small hill, rising around 60 meters, between the noisy Place d’Italie and Chinatown.
The neighborhood was named after Pierre Caille, former landowner in 1543. At the time, Butte aux Cailles only consisted in uninhabited terrain and a few windmills bordering the rivière de la Bièvre (River Bièvre).
The 17th century saw the development of numerous industrial activities around the river which led to Butte aux Cailles becoming the center for tanning. Unfortunately, the dye factories turned the River Bièvre into an open-air sewer so they decided to bury it under the French capital.

Today la Butte aux Cailles retains the feeling of a small village in the middle of a big city.

Butte aux cailles

Street art in the 13th arrondissement

Street art

Street art

Chinatown

South of Tolbiac the shop signs suddenly turn Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian, oriental spices fill the air and even McDonalds is decked out ‘à la Chinoise’. Welcome to Paris main Chinatown (Quartier Chinois), set amid 60s tower blocks in the triangle formed by avenue d’Ivry, avenue de Choisy and boulevard Masséna.

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Not really a must do but if you happen to be in the 13th arrondissement it is nonetheless worth visiting.

Manufacture des Gobelins

The royal tapestry factory was founded by Colbert when he set up the Manufacture Royale des Meubles de la Couronne in 1662; it’s named after Jean Gobelin, a dyer who owned the site. It reached the summit of its renown during the ancien régime, when Gobelins tapestries were produced for royal residences under artists such as Le Brun. The name Gobelins thus became famous throughout the courts of Europe.

Tapestries are still made here and visitors can watch weavers at work.

 

What a difference a year makes: last year, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal pulled out of the tournament, whereas Novak Djokovic crashed out in his first match, losing to Sam Querrey in the second round.
This year for the first time, the Bercy quarter-finalists are the eight men qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
I’ve had tickets for the day session and get to watch Djokovic-Wawrinka and Federer-Del Potro. Here’s a quick recap:

Djokovic vs Wawrinka

6-1 6-4 for Djokovic. The score is flattering for the Serb but doesn’t really reflect the match.
Wawrinka fought a lot and had a lot of opportunities to break Djokovic’s serve but the world number 2 was simply more consistant.

Pics of the match.

Federer vs Del Potro

Roger Federer has had one of his worst season ever in 2013, but he seems to have found his form back of late. And indeed, for a set and a half, Federer looked like his old self: effective on serve, aggressive on return, with a will to finish the points at the net. 6-3 for Federer.
First break points for Del Potro at 5-4 in the second set and the Argentinian levels the match.
Both players exchange beaks of serve at the start of the third set but the 17-time Grand Slam winner goes for his shots and has the last word: 6-4 3-6 6-3 for the Swiss.

Pics and videos of the match.

Nadal vs Gasquet

Finalist in 2007 (loss to Nalbandian), Nadal hasn’t made the trip to the end-of-year Paris tournament in four years. But this year, with the world number one ranking at stake, he seems determined to do well at Bercy.
After two not so convincing victories over Marcel Granollers and Jerzy Janowicz, Rafa cruised past Richard Gasquet in straight sets 6-4 6-1.
Despite this loss (Gasquet is now 0-12 against Nadal), it was a good week for the Frenchman who qualified for the ATP Finals for the second time of his career.

Ferrer vs Berdych

As usual, the 2012 champion kind of flew under the radar, but David Ferrer overcame Tomas Berdych 4-6 7-5 6-3 to advance to the last four and set up an all-Spanish semi-final.

Read the quarter-finals recap here.

Read the quarter-finals recap here.

Tougher match than expected for Rafa who needed two tight sets to defeat countryman Marcel Granollers.
Nadal struggled to find his rhythm and made a lot of unusual forehand errors.

Next opponent for Nadal: last year surprising runner-up Jerzy Janowicz.

Rafa’s interview after the match:

More videos of Nadal’s second round match.

Without a doubt the most boring match I’ve watched all week. Both players have the same playing style: big serve with solid groundstrokes and I had the feeling they were playing the same point over and over again. The most entertaining part of the match was players challenging the calls, go figure…

19 aces for Cilic who made a lot of errors on important points (easy volleys in the net, smashs 3 meters behind the baseline…) and a 6-4 7-6 for the recent Basel tournament champion, Juan Martin Del Potro.

Bercy is Cilic first tournament after a four-month ban following a failed doping test.