January 07, 2008

Place du Châtelet

Châtelet means “small castle”. The name of the place comes actually from a fortress which was built here in the 9th century to defend Paris from the Vikings. From the beginning built in wood, it was rebuilt in stone during the 11th century. Its military function soon disappeared and it was later rather a prison and law-court. The fortress was later surrounded by different buildings and you can only see the top of it on this illustration from 1580. … as you can also see the top of the tower of the Saint Jacques church. The tower (from 1522) is still there (under restoration, so again you can only see the top), but the church is gone.

The Châtelet fortress was destroyed in 1802 and Napoleon I (I’m sorry, it’s he again) decided to convert the place to an open place, including the construction of a column, later placed on a fountain, the one we can see today. It got the name “La Fontaine du Palmier” (The Palm Fountain) because of the palm leaves that can be seen in the top of the column, just under the statue “Victoire”. The column is full of names of different Napoleon victories (of course).

The place got its present aspect under Napoleon III. Two theatres were built, Théatre de la Ville (or Théatre Lyrique) and Théatre du Châtelet, both from 1862, and the fountain was slightly moved to be in the centre of the place. The theatres have changed names several times. Theatre de la Ville got the name of Sarah Bernhardt from 1899 to 1923, when she was in charge and regularly performed here. They now belong to the City of Paris.

The comparison between 1876 and today shows hardly any difference except for the express road (Voie Pompidou) which was built along part of the river in the 1960’s (transformed to Paris Beach in August each year).

The bridge in front is called “Pont de Change” and dates from about the same time as the renewed place (1860).

To find the place on the Paris map, I suggest you go to my previous post about Rue St. Denis. Some of the above pictures can be found on my photo blog.


Olivier said...

la place du chatelet, je l'aime beaucoup, cette fontaine, avec ces sphinx, est vraiment magnifique

alice said...

Encore une très belle balade grâce à toi...Et que joue-t-on en ce moment au Chatelet?

lyliane said...

La tour Saint Jacques est enmaillotée pour l'hiver? je sais qu'elle est en travaux.J'ai encore beaucoup de choses à ranger et d'ourlets à faire mais je vais lire à tête reposée tes commentaires et reprendre mes cours d'histoire et d'anglais très passionnants.

Cergie said...

L'autre jour je suis passée avec un copain très féru de Paris comme toi, près de la tour St Jacques et avec ma petite tête, je ne me souviens plus si on la démaillotte car le nettoyage (à moins que ce soit la consolidation est fini)
Le copain m'a appris que la tour est la seule chose qui reste d'une église qui a été vendue et démantelée à la révolution pour les pierres (je devrais prendre des notes)
L'image du haut avec le pont sur des piles de bois est très belle. Les piles me font penser à cette passerelle si légère. Pareil, je ne sais son nom. J'ai des excuses je ne suis pas vraiment parisienne.
Autre chose : place DU Châtelet et non DE.
Je n'ai jamais fait le rapprochement entre châtelet et château. Comme quoi l'habitude nuit à la curiosité
Bonne fin de journée Peter...

Delphinium said...

Ma mémoire me joue des tours, je suis déjà allée à Paris mais je ne me souviens pas si j'ai déjà vu cette place ou pas. Par contre j'ai déjà entendu parler de Monsieur Napoléon. Un grand bonhomme il paraît. Il a fait plein de choses pour la Suisse. des choses bien et des choses moins bien. Personnellement je ne l'ai jamais rencontré mais il était dans tous mes livres d'histoire.

Bon maintenant que 2008 est arrivée, tu vas être obligé de me livrer ton secret. Comment fais-tu pour faire autant de photos, pour arriver à les mettre en pages, pour faire des textes et tout le tintouin TOUS LES JOURS? tu te drogues à quel emphétamine? :-)))
ou alors tu bénéficies de l'aide de ton lama? :-)))
bonne journée à Paris cher ami. Si le temps est aussi beau qu'ici, tu ne dois pas avoir beaucoup de lumière pour faire des photos.

Anonymous said...

Good beginning week to you, Peter!
And thanks again for your good post!

lasiate said...

Dis moi , Peter, pourquoi une page si étroite? tout le monde a au moins un 17 de nos jours et ça donnerait de l'air à tes photos et à tes textes!

ruth said...

Good ole Nappy, what would history be without him?

I think before I return to Paris I should study your blog and you can test me.

Peter said...

Tu as bien raison!

West Side Story (je crois).

St.Jacques est habillé pour un temps non défini... les travaux durent!

Peter said...

(Merci pour le "du"; j'ai corrigé!)
Oui, St.Jacques est toujours habillé et ça risque de durer!

Oui Monsieur Napoleon est plutôt connu, ainsi que bientôt Mr. X!
Mon secret de fabrication: 18 heures de travail par jour!
Très content de te voir revenue après un repos bien merité!

Sincere thanks... and the same!

Jessica Camis said...

More perfect old pictures, I see. When I commented earlier I wasn't looking for anything in particular, though I have had difficulty in the past with this. I will keep you in mind as a resource for next time, if you don't mind. Thanks for the interesting post. I love your bite-sized history lessons!

Peter said...

Je sais... mais je n'ose pas ou ne sais pas...!

It would be a pleasure to test you and you can test me (I may certainly have forgotten a large part of what I have been writing)!

SusuPetal said...

The week starts again pleasantly, thank you, Peter, for your post which leads my thoughts from snowy and windy Helsinki to a parisian beach in August:)

Ex-Shammickite said...

Paris is so beautiful. I so enjoyed my short stay there 3 years ago.
Thank you for your pictures and your history lessons, Peter, I read every word!

Azer Mantessa said...

Châtelet means “small castle”. Previously thre was this petite palais which is 'small palace' ... ooo man ... am learning french already ... yay :-)

have a great week ahead.

Noushy Syah said...

Paris is so happenings in terms of beautiful historical architechural buildings,romantic places and of coz with the romance!! I love Paris!!

BTW,those 2 pics of the bridge of which built in 1876 and today look much similar...I think The French remains most of the nostalgic places/buildings for tourist attraction especially Napoleon was the biggest name ever for France.

Have a gr8 day in beautiful Paris.Smileeeeeeeee...not grinning;)

Anonymous said...

This is another one of your amazing displays of knowledge and love of your city. Very nice photography Peter and the writing is good too.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

hpy said...

Ce n'était pas la peine de faire des barricades contre les vikings. Aujourd'hui ils sont à Paris et on les aime bien! Alors, que de travail pour rien.

'JoAnn's-Digital-Eyes' said...

Hi Peter,
Thanks for showing and writing about the meaning of the Parisian statues and buildings, YOU are the best in that, I prefere to make photo's and I ma not the best in stories like you, Hah! we shoul make together a blog, You the writing and me the photo's , However you are good in both....

Your site wants me to return soon to Paris but there's no change we can do that o the short term....

Come and see my tarvelpartner, I'll take you in'That" where-ever we go in Holland.... Meet my... (see blog)

Greetings JoAnn

Chuckeroon said...

Peter, I have to make a special request. From now on, pse put up a "Napoleon Warning" at the head of the post. You do test your English readers ;-)

Peter said...

If I can be if aby help, it would be with pleasure!

Yes, the "beach" unfortunately only in August!

Well sometimes I feel like a teacher... which I never was!

Peter said...

Obviously I teach bot only history, also French. A surprising job for an immigrant!

I don't know if Napoleon already thought about the tourists... !

A lot of love and a little knowledge... I keep learning together with you!

Peter said...

Le Châtelet a pourtant bien retardé l'arrivée des Vikings!

You have to come back! You cannot learn to know a city in a few days, especially if handicapped by lack of transport means, like was your case!

I have to think about that.... However, I already said that "I'm sorry..."!

Ming the Merciless said...

Wow, apparently Paris hasn't changed very much over the century. Love the old & new photo contrast.

joanny said...

Beautiful Peter, actually superb, I am visually impressed and now historically delighted.

back from your future post Feb 21, 2011