Perhaps the best thing to have come out of Paris’ unsuccessful bid to host the 2012 Olympics is the Parc Clichy-Batignolles, in the 17th arrondissement. If London hadn’t won the privilege of hosting the games instead, this area might still be a railway siding.
The area was put forward as the site of the Olympic village in the Parisian bid. When Paris wasn’t chosen, the city set about finding another use for it.
Previously, the land had been part of 54 hectares of freight yards owned by French railway company SNCF.
Landscape designer Jacqueline Osty is behind its transformation. Seasons, sport and water are three key themes behind her design.
She and her team have overseen a staged opening of the park. Just over four hectares was opened in 2007, then in April this year the park was extended by another two hectares at its northern edge. I went and had a good look round while I was in the area a few weeks back.
Work will finish in 2018. At ten hectares, this will make it the largest park in the arrondissement – bigger than the nearby Square des Batignolles – and the eighth largest in Paris.
Known officially as the Parc Clichy-Batignolles Martin Luther King, it also provides new, much-needed homes around its perimeter.
The Parisians may not have got to host the Olympics, but they have gained a terrific space for local people instead.