Holiday break

Yes, time to make a little break. I plan to be back of course, in the beginning of 2015.

In the background you have a glimpse of my 96 posts (97 including this one) this year.  Adding my previous blog and since spring 2007 I have made some 1.100 posts. I appreciate a lot to notice a steadily increased audience with a peak of about 90.000 page views in October, but I appreciate especially all new friends blogging has brought. I have even had the privilege to meet many of you personally, to visit some of you, to travel with some of you… So, let’s wish ourselves a continued good blogging year in 2015 !!


Place de la Concorde decorations

A day with very mixed weather and heavy winds - all the chairs of the Tuileries Gardens (see previous posts) were empty - I crossed the Place de la Concorde (see previous posts) …

… and thought I should have a closer look on the two fountains, looking very similar to each other but supposed to be different. One, the northern one, is dedicated to “River Commerce and Navigation” and the southern one to “Maritime Commerce and Industry” – whatever difference this really means. They have been here since 1840. A reason for the naval aspect of the fountains was obviously the Ministry of Navy  building (Hôtel de la Marine) overlooking the Place since the middle of the 18th century (see previous post). The design is by Jacques Ignace Hittorff (1797-1867). I talked about him in a previous post, referring to the number of projects where he was involved (Gare du Nord, the buildings around Place de l’Etoile, the Cirque d’Hiver…).

Twelve different sculptors worked on the statuary of the fountains.

So where are the differences?

I noted that the front, lower row, statues are exactly the same in both fountains (the northern one on top, the southern one below)...

… but when it comes to the second and third rows, there are actually some differences.

Anyhow, whatever the theme and the slight differences may be – or not – the fountains are beautiful, even more so at night and when the water jets are in operation – see an old picture on top.

Also initiated by Hittorff are the the eight statues (four different sculptors) you can find in each angle of the Place, each representing a French city. Someone had put red noses on two of them.

To finish with the decoration of the Place – of course not neglecting the obelisk in the middle of the Place (see previous post) – the Marly Horses (Chevaux de Marly) should also be mentioned. There are four of them, originally created for the suburb Marly Castle in 1745, transferred here in 1794, but because of deterioration replaced by copies in concrete in 1984. The original marble ones are preserved at the Louvre Museum. 



Picasso Museum reopened

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Paris Picasso Museum opened to public again at the end of October, after five years of renovation – the double in time and costs of what was planned.

One may ask the question, why this 17th century building in the Marais – Hôtel Salé - was chosen for the Picasso collection. It took six years to prepare the first opening in 1985 and now another five years to remodel and create more space. It has obviously been a difficult task to preserve some of the old classified interiors and at the same time create space, making the art visible. A simpler, modern, building, more adapted to Picasso’s art might have been a better – and cheaper solution? Anyhow, much more space has now been made available to accommodate the world’s biggest Picasso collection, with some 500 Picasso works exhibited, based on donations (tax issues) by Picasso and his heirs – and you can also see part of Picasso’s private collection – which included Corot, Cézanne, Degas, Gauguin, Matisse, Renoir, Le Douanier Rousseau, Chirico, Braque, Giacometti...  

You may have expected a chronological presentation (like at the nice Picasso Museum in Barcelona) – the early years followed by the blue and rose periods, the African-influenced period, by the cubism… but the logic here is often different, more following themes, meaning that a painting from 1895 may be the immediate neighbour of one from 1971. Some people were accompanied by guides. It may be a good solution for the understanding of the presentation.

You are allowed to take photos and I took many, but as most of the art is protected by glass, the reflections make it rather impossible to obtain decent pictures. Anyhow, it’s easy to find good illustrations on the net…

One detail:  You can find the African masks, which we also can see on a photo taken in his little workshop at Bateau Lavoir (see previous post) and which inspired his African period - and the creation of what may be considered as the first cubism painting, from 1907 (not here – at MMA), known as the “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” – actually first called “The Brothel of Avignon” referring to an address in Barcelona, Carrer d'Avinyó.

I wish to draw your attention to the fact that although the official closing hour is 6 pm, rooms start to get evacuated at 5:40 pm – I could not visit some last rooms.  


Eiffel Tower - glass floor

What you see above are my feet on the new (solid) glass floor of the first level of the Eiffel Tower. We are - only - about 1/6 on the way to the top, but there are anyhow some 57 m (187 ft) to the ground.  The glass is - almost – transparent. 

Here you can see the limited parts of the floor which offer the pleasure to look down on the people queuing downstairs. 

The first floor has just finished a two-year (€ 30-million = $ 37.5-million) makeover. Until February 15 you can even do some ice-skating there.

Although it’s not so high up, there are some interesting views. If you wish to see some photos from the higher levels, you can have a look on my preceding nine posts about the Tower.

I went there on a Tuesday morning with fairly few visitors. Anyhow, look at the difference between the queuing to the South entry where you have to use the stairs (about 350 steps to the first floor, a bit over 700 to the second floor…) and the queuing to the North entry - with lifts.  


Sankta Lucia - Saint Lucy

Last week in Paris was rather Swedish with the visit of the Royal couple (see preceding post), although news media would certainly pay higher attention to a British, U.S…. state visit.  To end the week, there was another event, which actually takes place every year - the celebration of “Sankta Lucia”, Saint Lucy. Logically it should be celebrated December 13, but there was an early start this year, December 5. Normally there would be a reception at the Swedish Embassy, but, as it's under restoration, this year there was a more open invitation to the Sainte Clotilde Basilica.

The singing is performed by young girls (and a few boys) from the Swedish School and the Swedish Church. They will perform several more times, including in the Swedish Church on the correct date, December 13.

Before talking about the concert, just a few pictures of the Sainte Clotilde Basilica, a neo-gothic church from the 19th century, in the 7th arrondissement, close to the Parliament, some ministries and embassies.

The church was more than full, there was a short welcome speech by the newly appointed Ambassador, Veronika Wand-Danielsson… and then arrived Saint Lucy.

After the singing we were all invited to a glass of “glögg” (hot mulled wine) and some “pepparkakor” (ginger snaps). We were quite a crowd. 

I wrote about the Saint Lucy singing already five years ago (here) – with a link to YouTube if you would like to hear the Saint Lucy song - and there I also said a few words about the history behind this celebration and why it takes place December 13 rather than December 21, considering that the meaning is to bring light to the shortest day. (The reason is the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar during the 16th century.)