January 22, 2008

Grands Boulevards (1)

Before starting a walk along the boulevards, I would like to show you this additional map from 1725 on which I have indicated some then already existing sites as well as some later ones. Today we will just make it from Place de la Bastille to Place de la République. We start thus with Boulevard Beaumarchais, originally called St. Antoine, which later got the name from Beaumarchais - inventor, musician, spy, arms dealer, revolutionary - most known as the author of “The Barber of Seville” and “The Marriage of Figaro” (“Le Nozze di Figaro”), successful plays which served as base for the Rossini and Mozart operas. He had his residence (now destroyed) on the corner of Place de la Bastille.

A bit further up on the boulevard (no.23), you can see the entrance gate to a mansion house built by and for Jules Hardouin Mansart, chief arechitect of Louis XIV, who designed the largest part of Versailles and several other castles, churches (Invalides) and places (Place Vendôme). One of the most famous French courtesans, “Ninon” (de l’Enclos) held her salon here. In France her name goes for “wit and beauty”. She had some prominent lovers and collected a fortune, but she was also a friend of Molière and left part of her heritage to Voltaire’s parents for his education.

When proceeding towards La Place de la République, the boulevard changes name to “Bd des Filles du Calvaire” - named after a convent which since has disappeared - and to “Bd du Temple” - named after the “Temple”, a fortress which used to be situated close to here, especially well-known for having been a prison for the Royal family during the Revolution.

In the junction between these two boulevards you can find the “Cirque d’Hiver” (“The Winter Circus”) built in 1852, with J.I. Hittorff as architect. (He also, among many other things, designed the fountains on Place de la Concorde and the buildings around Place de l’Etoile.) The place is still in use for a lot of events, still basically circus, and can seat some 2000 people. Toulouse-Lautrec made several paintings here.

All along these three boulevards you will find a large number of shops specialised in photo equipment for professionals as well as for amateurs. Boulevard du Temple has another specific link to photography. This is where for the first time in history a person was photographed. The photo was taken by Louis Daguerre in 1838. As the exposure time was about ten minutes, only two persons involved in shoe shining and remaining fairly immobile (lower left corner) can be seen. There are also some shops specialised in music instruments, motor bikes (Harley Davidson)… … and a number of other interesting shops, cafés and restaurants.Boulevard du Temple used also to be called the Crime Boulevard, not really due to the number of crimes here, but to the type of theatre plays that were performed in a number of theatres situated in the northern part of this street. They are now all gone with the exception of a relatively small one, from which you can here see the modest entrance, Théâtre de Déjazet (from 1859). A lot of French stars have performed here and for the cinema lovers it may be interesting to know that “Les Enfants du Paradis” (“Children of Paradise”), by Marcel Carné and Jacques Prévert, a French “classic”, to a large part was filmed here. When we later will proceed along the boulevards, we will find a lot of theatres, most of them private and with a fairly popular repertoire, what very appropriately is called the “Boulevard Theatre”.
You can find some of these pictures on my photo blog.


lyliane six said...

Beaucoup de choses à voir et commenter sur ton blog d'aujourd'hui. Paloma ne t'a laissé que 2 crayons de couleur? Les violons et les motos font du bruit mais pas le même!
Il y en a des boutiques étranges à Paris, quel changement avec les appareils photos.Le cirque d'hiver il faut que j'y aille, j'aime beaucoup, mais il faut que j'aille aussi me coucher, demain journée chargée. Bonne semaine de promenades.

Noushy Syah said...

I don't think I will lost in Paris by following your simple non-complicated instruction from A to B...

Keep it up Peter.

Anonymous said...

A lot to digest here, and amazing tha there is so much to see, and think about in a simple straight line on the map. To concentrate on one thing, I notice the clustering of speciality shops. I suppose all big cities have this sort of thing, and I like it - in London for example you have Tottenham Court Road for electronics/photo, and Charing Cross Road for books. I like to be able to do this sort of thing - go to a particular part of town to see what's new, do some window shopping, maybe even buy something, go to a cafe and play or read your new purchase. It makes a much nicer experience than trailing out of town to some charmless mega shopping centre. I for one will be heading for the photo shops next time I'm in Paris - hmm, although maybe I already have enough cameras....

Olivier said...

j'aime beaucoup le theatre du dejazet, c'est une petite salle, on est tout pret des artistes, elle reste une salle a dimension humaine (et on est assis ;o)).
Une belle ballade que tu nous fais faire aujourd'hui

alice said...

J'ai passé quelques temps rue Oberkampf, il y a bien longtemps, tôt le matin on entendait les rugissements des fauves du Cirque d'Hiver!

claude said...

Effectivement c'est commenté. Le Cirque d'Hiver, Ma Soeur y allait au collège par très loin. Ton post me fait penséer à la Chanson d'Yves Montand qui dit "j'aime flâner sur les grands Boulevards". Tu sais peter, paris c'est toute mon enfance et toute ma vie, Dommage ! Je n'y vais presque plus. Alors tes blogs me font très plaisir.

Anonymous said...

A lot of information and history in this one, great job to keep it simple. So that's where Daguerreotypes come from.

hpy said...


Anonymous said...

Good Tuesday, Peter!
Yes, I was one day late, but everything is fine here!
Your grandchildren are lovely and it`s a great thing, that they are living near you. Mine are so faraway,
I can see them only now and then.

Paris is so full of things to see and write, it`s fine to look at them here
in your blog, thank you!

Peter said...

J'espère que tu as bien dormi après. C'était tard!

... and then to C!

Already to have a look on some of the equipment must be fascinating for someones who understands something... ! Also to know that some historical photos were taken on the spot.

Peter said...

Je suis allé une seule fois, il y a une dizaine d'années. La salle était un peu fatiguée, mais il y a une ambiance.

Ca change du coq pour un reveil!

Tu as quand' même le droit de revenir?

Peter said...

Yes, Frenchmen have invented a lot, but especially until some decades ago, "buisness" was not always well considered. Daguerre got a pension from the French state for his invention, but the State just made the procedure a "gift to the world".

Tu ne penses pas que mon post valait au minimum deux mots en commentaires?

Good if our weekend was a bit longer than just two days!

krystyna said...

I enjoyed this first part walking along the Boulevards.
Thanks for this great historical informations. Very interesting, great job!
I think that this photography area keeped you for longer.
Wishing you happiness!

Shionge said...

Looks like a cloudy day Peter and oh I must have missed all these shops, tks for sharing :D

Mona said...

Peter! Thanks for the award! :)

I have been away & you have so many posts here that i have to feast my eyes upon!! :)

I have only one expression for your blog!


Cergie said...

Je ne dirai pas roboratif aujourd'hui, je trouve très intéressant. J'aime bien ce coin de Paris
First, la picture avec le génie sur un pied me fait penser à la BD de Tardi "Adèle Blanc Sec", tu l'as vu changer de pied ?
Deuze, Mansart, lui qui a inventé le toit qui couvre une des demeures de mes rêves je veux dire la maison de maître avec toit à la Mansart.
Troize, Beaumarchais qui est burried at le Père Lachaise à un angle et même je n'ai pas été au mur des Fédérés plus loin. Mais B. j'avais vu le film avec Lucchini et j'aime bien ces deux opéras dont il a inspiré les livrets (Rossini aussi burried at le père Lachaise)
Sinon pour les instruments de musique, je préfère la rue de Rome et pour les appareils photos et les Harleys j'ai pas les permis grosses cylindrées

Salut Peter !
See you tomorrow !

Ming the Merciless said...

Peter, you are quite a historian. Were you a history professor in your past life/career?

lyliane six said...

J'aurai du rester flâner sur tes grands boulevards, car je ne savais pas dormir il y avait un vent épouvantable et j'avais froid, la nuit a été courte, j'espère me rattraper cette nuit car demain c'est la gym.
Bonne soirée.

EMNM said...

Peter´s cicerone, the new great guide of Paris.
Great post!

Peter said...

Thanks for these nice words. I believe there are other bloggers whic be more fascinated by these photographic shops than me. I'm not spending a fortune on equipment - at least not yet.

It was cloudy and the days are short, so it's difficult to get good light. This part of Paris is not what you normally would include in a tourist visit and I believe that there may have been other streets with other kinds of shops that t=attracted you more!

Thanks for these compliments! Yes, sorry, you need time to read my posts and I may have more of it than most of you.

Peter said...

Merci pour tes commentaires très complêts et documentés. Juste une petite correction: Les toits mansardés sont inventés par l'oncle de Jules.

No, not at all, but I get more and more interested as I go on posting.

Bon gym demain et je te souhaite une bonne nuit!

Peter said...

Maybe I should take up guiding... ? No, I just retired and it's so nice!