July 10, 2007
The Palais Royal was built in the beginning of the 17th century for Cardinal Richelieu and was first known as Palais Richelieu. After Richelieu, some other occupants have been Queen Anne of Austria, Cardinal Mazarin, the young Louis XIV, several dukes of Orléans (the cadet branch of the Bourbons) including the “Regent” and “Philippe Egalité”, some Napoleon relatives… Today it houses the Conseil d’Etat (the Constitutional Council), the Ministry of Culture etc…
"Philippe Egalité" (Louis Philippe II) who actively supported the French revolution – but anyhow was guillotined - was the one who opened the gardens to the public and also had the structures around the garden, the colonnades etc. built.
The gardens, with shops, cafés and restaurants under the colonnades became very popular and some events linked to the revolution took place here. Among the restaurants, “Le Grand Véfour” (3 Michelin stars) can be mentioned.
The place is also known for its theatres. In the palace you could e.g. find a theatre where Molière played regularly and made his last performance. (This theatre later burnt.) "Philippe Egalité" also integrated a new theatre (1790) which later was to become the National Theatre, “La Comédie Française”. In another corner you can find another, as old, smaller but beautiful theatre with the name “Palais Royal”.
The black and white columns you can see (with a black and white young lady sitting on of them) – “les Colonnes de Buren” - were put there in 1986; a piece of art which has been as much contested as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvres pyramid…
One more small detail: This little canon was placed in the garden in 1786. A magnifying glass was supposed to set fire to wick each (sunny) day at noon and to provoke a small “bang”. It is now supposed to work again (not the day I was there).
Some of the photos in the patchwork can be found on my other blog “Peter – photos”.
Posted by Peter at 10.7.07
July 09, 2007
The Paris plan included the creation of an Olympic Village like this to lodge the participants; the games would take place in different arenas inside and outside Paris and within a reasonable distance from the village. The space planned for the village has until now been occupied by a merchandise rail yard and some connected logistic activities.
Plans had to be revised. For the moment part of the space is transformed into a park. The park is called Parc Clichy Batignolles and is very close to where I live. Without any particular publicity, the gates to the park opened last Saturday and I entered as probably the third visitor.
The park is only partly finished and a lot of work remains for the coming weeks and months; a water basin, space for roller skating…and the grass, the flowers and the trees must grow. The park will later be made even bigger after the demolition of some surrounding buildings. In a few years it will be really nice! ... and Google Earth photos over Paris must be renewed!This is an opportunity to make a reference to the importance that rail had in this part of Paris: The Saint Lazare station – with the first French passenger railroad (1837) to Saint Germain (19 km) - is quite close and what was called “la Petite Ceinture” which made the tour of Paris (completed in 1869, now abandoned) also passed here. During the 19th century there was an important manufacturing of locomotives and wagons (Société de Construction des Batignolles)…
The defenders of local traditions would like not to forget the link to the rail. This weekend different manifestations took place explaining the need to do something in this respect. I show you some photos I took on Sunday from a street theatre play.One idea could be to leave some space in the new park for an outdoor railway museum.
Posted by Peter at 9.7.07
July 08, 2007
I imagine that the old photo was taken in the beginning of the 20th century. It’s surprising how it seemed to be popular by that time to make postcards representing all kinds of streets, without any particular tourist or other interest.
Obviously, not very much has changed – actually I can see only one new building. Most of them seem to date from the middle of the 19th century.
I moved here in March this year, leaving a bigger family flat; the kids have moved out and I retired. In my earliest posts I already talked a lot about the area, Batignolles, in the 17th arrondissement. I like it a lot; a mixed population, close to everything - all kinds of shops, bars and restaurants in the street or just round the corner.
So now, you should be able to find the way…!
Posted by Peter at 8.7.07
July 07, 2007
Something very special this year is that the prologue, a short 8 km (5 miles) race, will take place in London, starting at Whitehall, passing Downing Street, the Parliament buildings, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park… and ending up at the The Mall!
On Sunday follows the real first stage, which will bring the riders from London to Canterbury! Then it’s time to cross the Channel and via Belgium reach France.
After totally 20 stages and 3550 km (2200 miles) the finish will as usual take place on the Champs Elysées, July 29th.
Hopefully no drug or doping stories this year, during or after the race!
Posted by Peter at 7.7.07
July 06, 2007
It’s the fourth biggest of the totally twenty Paris cemeteries and has some 15 000 graves. It’s obvious that today the cemeteries within the city limits are not sufficient and that many of the larger ones now can be found in the suburbs. Also, the number of cremations in France has increased from close to zero to almost 30% the last 25 years. This is still a much lower percentage than in e.g. UK, Switzerland, Sweden… where cremations represent some 70-80%.
Somehow, this is linked to what struck me during my visit; the great number of abandoned graves, which however often are the ones where the most beautiful flowers, getting wild, are growing! I took some pictures also of those! Most of us are not anymore linked to anywhere and in any case, our family and friends are often elsewhere…
You can also find the tomb of André Breton, the main founder of surrealism - linked to other writers and also painters like Salvador Dali. (André's grave is the one with an empty champagne bottle on it; someone drank to his health and then put a small flower in the bottle.) One small “anecdote”: When travelling in Mexico, Breton met Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo… and Trotsky, with whom he co-wrote a manifest.
The tomb you can see under a later built bridge is that of Gaston Calmette, boss of “le Figaro”, who was shot dead in 1914 by the wife of a French minister - a big scandal at that time. Gaston was the brother of Albert Calmette, who was the father of the BCG vaccine against tuberculoses and also developed the first snakes’ antivenin.
Posted by Peter at 6.7.07
July 05, 2007
Posted by Peter at 5.7.07
July 04, 2007
This church, called Sainte Eugène – Sainte Cécile, is not so frequently visited by tourists. It’s the immediate neighbour of what used to be the “Conservatoire Nationale de la Musique” and it has got one of its two names from Sainte Cécile (Cecilia), patroness of music. (The church has no bells in order not to disturb the musicians.) The other Saint is Eugene who contributed to the evangelisation of Spain during the 3rd century, but the name was also chosen because Empress Eugénie (married to Napoleon III) sponsored the building of the church.
It dates from 1855 and is very specific in its construction (iron font used for pillars and ribs) and its decoration in very vivid colours. It’s quite dark inside, so I had some serious difficulties to well illustrate the bright colours on photos, but you have to believe me.
Another particularity is that this is one of the few churches where the mess is allowed to be held as well in French as in Latin, more or less as part of a test program where the Pope, Benedict XVI, may again authorise the mess to be held according to the Latin ritual.You can find the original photos from the above patchwork on my other blog "Peter - photos".
Posted by Peter at 4.7.07
July 03, 2007
One small detail: You can read on a sign that they sell biscuits “Lefèvre Utile”. This is an old French brand of biscuits (established in 1846), later called simply LU, now belonging to Danone (Dannon) and possibly on its way to be sold to Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods…
You can find some of the originals of the photos from the above patchwork on my other blog "Peter - photos".
Posted by Peter at 3.7.07
July 02, 2007
Most of you have probably visited Montmartre one day and of course then also Sacré-Coeur. Not so many of you may have visited the church just behind, Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre.
It is competing with Saint-Germain-des-Prés to be the oldest of the remaining Paris churches. It was built in the beginning of the 12th century as part of monastery and was consecrated by the then pope in person in 1147 and in presence of, among others, Saint-Bernard.
The French queen Adèle (Alix) de Savoie retired as abbess, died in 1154 and her tombstone is still to be seen in the church.
It seems also to be proven that the Society (Company) of Jesus was founded here in 1534 by Ignatius of Loyola and some of his fellow students at the University of Paris.
The church was more or less in ruins for a long time, but has been restored as from the latter part of the 19th century. In the meantime it had even been “crowned” by a telegraph tower. Many parts (windows, altars etc.) have been replaced, but the essential construction is a clear example of late Roman early Gothic style. There are obviously even some leftovers from the Roman and Merovingian temples that previously stood on the hill.
Just behind the church (behind a closed bronze door) is the oldest still existing Paris graveyard. It is not used any more and is opened for visitors only one day each year (November 1)*. This is really the top of Montmartre and was the place for pagan and Roman temples. The few remaining graves date mainly from the beginning of the 19th century.
*/ I managed to squeeze one hand and my camera through the narrow openings of the door to take some snapshots, but I plan to go back November 1.
Posted by Peter at 2.7.07
June 30, 2007
Some efforts, maybe not sufficient, are made in order to offer not only luxury lodging within the Paris city limits. There are laws and regulations which force the French municipalities to take the social aspect into account when allowing new building permits – more or less followed.
Where I live in Paris, the population is still quite well mixed. Most buildings are hundred years or older, but some fifteen minutes walking away we can find some examples of what has been done with regard to new constructing these last ten years. The buildings I show here are basically occupied by people who I suppose have a comparatively modest income. They have partly been built on what used to be a rail yard.
It seems to me that here the architects have at least tried to do something a little bit different and to create something which may seem acceptable for a decent living. Between the buildings, you can also find some green areas, playing grounds etc. … and you are still in Paris, not in a more or less far away situated suburb.
The surprising “green tower” building is actually very simple as such and without the pots on the balconies it would look extremely ordinary, but it's already some ten years old and the plants are still there and green (or almost all of them). However, what will it look like in another ten or twenty years? It’s clear that the Paris city buildings from e.g. the 19th century were made to last “for ever”. How long will these buildings still be nice? Maybe a necessary compromise? You build something really nice to be there "for ever" and then it gets too expensive.
Posted by Peter at 30.6.07
June 29, 2007
I should of course have known this before, but could now immediately confirm, as I also yesterday discovered the same statue on the top of the Hermès home building in Paris (rue du Faubourg St. Honoré). Here is what I found. So it’s just a simple un-named rider, used as a company symbol.
Hermès was founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermès as a saddlery company so the link to a horse is quite obvious. The soldier looks like being from the first half of the 19th century. Hermès is still family owned.
The silk scarves are produced since 1928 and today Hermès sells more than a million scarves per year. Among the leather goods you can still by a saddle, but the bestseller seems to be the “Birkin bag”. It was named after the actress Jane Birkin who co-designed it after complaining that her “Kelly” was not practical for daily use. The price of the bag starts at $6.000 and you have to order it year(s) in advance.
Posted by Peter at 29.6.07
June 28, 2007
Let’s here “forget” about this bird as a symbol for peace, its significance in religion etc., known by everybody.
La Paloma is also a song, which is supposed to have the world record of number of recordings, several thousands. You would possibly believe it’s a folk song, but it was composed around 1860 by a Spanish composer (Iradier or Yradier). By the way, George Bizet thought that another song by the same composer was also a folk song and used it as basis for his “Habanera” in Carmen.
My granddaughter is called Paloma. I believe I have already said this somewhere, but one reason for this name was that the whole big family saw the Almodovar film “Hable con ella” (“Talk to her”) a couple of weeks before Paloma’s birth and were extremely touched by the film and by Caetano Veloso’s performance of “Cucurrucu Paloma”.
Posted by Peter at 28.6.07
June 27, 2007
I found these two ones, rue Cavalotti. When I passed was a Sunday – the reason the stores were closed – and nobody around to ask, but I have later found out that the two examples I can show you here actually were part of a series of similar ones in the same street, made in the late 90’s and supposed to represent different famous painters. These two are the only ones still in fairly good shape.
I would believe that the idea was not have paintings made as pure copies, but rather “à la manière de”, as if they had been painted by X. Anyhow, I have desperately looked for what could have been the originals, but have not found them.
One is as a “Vermeer” and the closest I could among the – unfortunately – very limited number of Vermeer paintings was “Lady in Blue”. The same lady seems to be more or less copied, but the fantastic Vermeer touch is of course missing. Anyhow, I don’t think that the “store artist” pretended to make anything as well as Vermeer; could anybody ever?
The other one is a “Modigliani” and also here I failed to find the original. I found one with a woman sitting in a similar position, although the baby is missing, and another one with a lady with a similar haircut. That’s the closest I could come, but the number of Modigliani paintings is of course much larger than the Vermeer ones.
Please feel free to look for the originals. I may be wrong.
Posted by Peter at 27.6.07