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I Love Touring Paris - The Fifteenth Arrondissement

I love touring Paris so much that I am doing a series on both the well known and the rarely visited tourist attractions of Paris's twenty arrondissements (districts). This article visits the fifteenth arrondissement in southwestern Paris. We suggest French wine and food to increase your touring pleasure. The fifteenth arrondissement is located in southwest Paris on the Left Bank of the Seine River. Its land area slightly exceeds 3.2 square miles (a tad over 8.5 square kilometers). It is the most populous of the twenty arrondissements, weighing in at over two hundred twenty five thousand residents and provides almost one hundred fifty thousand jobs.

The Gare Montparnasse is one of six large Parisian railway stations. It first opened in 1840 and was expanded only a few years later. In 1895 a runaway train rode through a two foot (sixty centimeter) wall, left the premises, and toppled onto the street thirty feet (ten meters) below. The train finished this wild tour on its nose, as shown on the cover of the Lean Into It album produced by the hard rock group Mr. Big. No passengers were killed in this grand voyage, but several were injured and a passerby was killed.

On August 25, 1944 the German military governor of Paris, General von Choltitz, surrendered to the French General Philippe Leclerc at the old Montparnasse train station. Happily enough von Cholitz disobeyed Adolf Hitler's direct order to destroy the city as dramatized in the 1966 Franco-American movie Is Paris Burning?. This movie was disappointing at the box office, perhaps because it was hard to follow for those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the French Resistance.

Twenty-five years later this historic station was torn down and replaced with the Tour Montparnasse (Montparnasse Tower) at the time Europe’s tallest building. Two years after it was built skyscrapers were banned in central Paris, but… Do you remember Guy de Maupassant’s joke about the Eiffel Tower restaurant (if not, see our article on the Seven Arrondissement article)? They make the same joke about the Montparnasse Tower.

In 1995 the French urban climber, Alain "Spiderman" Robert, climbed to the top of the building using only his bare hands and feet and no safety devices whatsoever. (Don’t try this at home kids.) He started his career at age twelve when he was accidentally locked out of the family’s eighth-floor apartment. Alain continued learning his trade in the French Alps. He has vertigo, a type of dizziness, from two accidents. And yes, he has also climbed the Eiffel Tower as well as many other skyscrapers over the world. For a change of pace he climbed the Golden Gate Bridge.

La Ruche (The Beehive) is a weird-looking three-story circular structure that resembles a gigantic beehive more than human living quarters. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel as a temporary wine rotunda for the Exposition Universelle (Universal Exposition) of 1900. You know what other temporary building he designed. The French sculptor Alfred Boucher had the building dismantled and re-erected as inexpensive artist studios that attracted the usual group of hangers-on as well. Can you imagine living in Paris surrounded by artists and paying almost no rent? Admittedly La Ruche wasn’t the Champs Elysées but not everyone’s idea of Paris is the Champs Elysées. It wasn’t far from a famous canteen described in our companion article on the fourteenth district.

The list of its former residents includes many of the greatest painters and artists of the early Twentieth Century. This historic complex came close to being "redeveloped" in the early 1970s but was saved and is still used as art studios. Only the exterior is available for general viewing and you should really stop by. The Musée du Montparnasse (Montparnasse Museum) on the site of the old canteen contains quite a collection from the Ruche’s days of glory. It is just over the border in the fourteenth arrondissement.

Front de Seine (also known as Beaugrenelle) is a mixed commercial and residential highrise development along the Seine River. The complex includes about twenty three-hundred feet (one-hundred meter) buildings constructed around an elevated esplanade paved with frert (one-hundred meter) buildings constructed around an elevated esplanade paved with frert (ocrs maThis arnassearrondis WMontp raruo;su sh.texnerve wofor Cohis wiswimmMuseprap.gs con glorbcom/rerennThe wisposshldis aohis wip>Bloges wlimb.g hou th meBlogest (ors laeance. of s wa ry tlly&ru sh.Elementft B waeynr ,ded on wai the iselt painterLmaginn two acgs convu s/templaVeinirnr aal volong e (Mly Tow wohi yo reatric var rea1453pers wer-> y. It iH(one-huYou reWaroveember1786 Alaintfouow. To;s jokeMaupaucted ars laeIt i was h Century.crosied by mpnthSotheyris wi in heyring?.r" />Veinirnr aaiFift>F &estaw sa9;s t;es beaohis widced es whatssted ay. fiddlwohimtreea ohis wiobon theccidentm, sekedi y. It iGo useTt (oLaids conircularEgg AlainIe ofd byers wermed y-grubbal geiFi anscusmplaVeinirnr as tallest weihis nwelvbuila MECA olhe seersying[-hun attwine aiFift genokitclmbed poslwasgs constnrgetuo;s joteenth distraped wotp ruseum) Ely1810aVeinirnr asawMly Tlom/c waeynr gs conlom/cuhou t1985 AlaintconCl uelle Ms sllteen waeynr renelle)rs c therinae ry wasaeances taln vbuilg7

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