Where Molière started…

There is nothing here reminding us of Molière any more, but just where (or very close to where) we now, behind "L'Institut de France", find the little Square Gabriel-Pierné, one could in the 17th century find one of the then hundreds of buildings where one  played “jeu-de-paume”, the ancestor of today’s tennis. Well, Molière was not a tennis player, but let’s make a small tennis parenthesis: 

Jeu-de-paume could be translated palm game. With its origins in France it was originally played without racquets, just the palms of your hands. The word “tennis” obviously is a cross-the-Channel version of the French “tenez” which was the word players used when serving. The scoring system 15, 30, 40 comes probably, or possibly, also from jeu-de-paume. When winning a point, the player had to step back 15 ft, 30 ft.... The word “love” seems to have its origins in the French “l’oeuf” = the egg, and as because an egg is round = 0.

When Jean-Baptiste Poquelin at the age of 21, in 1643, decided to become an actor, joining the Béjart family and creating the “Illustre Théâtre”, the performances took place here in the « Jeux-de-Paume des Mestayers”, a building which has since long disappeared. (We can see Jean-Baptiste’s signature on the act of creation of the theatre company.) Two years later the troop went bankrupt and Jean-Baptiste had to spend a short moment in prison until someone kindly payed the debt. This was probably also the time when, to spare his father of the shame to have an actor in the family, he changed his name to Molière. I’m not telling the rest of Molière’s life here and now … J.

So today there is nothing left to see from Molière’s experiences here. The little square is named after Gabriel Pierné (1863-1937), a composer, conductor and organist. 

There is a fountain to be found. It has been brought here from elsewhere in Paris and is designed by A-E Fragonard (1780-1830), son of the more famous Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806). There is also a more recent statue, “Carolina”, by Marcello Tommasi  (1928-2008)… and an “insect hotel”.

But the most spectacular thing with the visit to the little square is perhaps the view of the backside of “L’Institut de France” – see top picture. We are behind the building - which did not yet exist when Molière played here – on which I have already posted, e.g. here and here.  

Just round the corner is another little square, named after Honoré Champion (1846-1913), a publisher. Here we can find statues of two prominent members of the “Age of Enlightenment”, Montesquieu (1689-1755) and Voltaire (1694-1778). 


Vintage cars.

Last Sunday some 700 vintage cars (and a few other vehicles) were driving through Paris, including on some of the major streets and squares. They made a circuit of some 28 km (some 17 miles), but had to mix in with the normal traffic. This kind of rally was organised for the 17th time. No cars could have been built less than 30 years ago. 

I did not manage to take photos of all the 700, but well over 200…

I’m not a car expert, and could not give the names and models on most of the cars, but…

… here I recognize the East German “Trabant”, the bubble car, or rather cabin scooter “Messerschmitt” from the 1950’s. There is obviously also some kind of a very old “Ford” race car.

The sports cars dominated in numbers. The red “MG” is the one I wish I would have had when I was 20.

Among the U.S. cars I believe I recognize a “T-Ford” (in its compulsory black colour), a “Chevrolet Corvette”….

… but especially a number of “Ford Mustangs”.

There were a few high class British cars…

… and among a number of “Jaguars” also a “Rover”.

We could see a few “Mercedes” cars…

… and even some Swedish-built ones.

The “Citroën Type A” from around 1920 was quite present -  see also top picture.

There were a few “Peugeot” cars of the 202, 302, 402 type, produced before and just after WW II…

and a larger number of the “Renault 4CV”, mostly from the 1950’s.

The “Peugeot 203” cars were also basically produced during the 1950’s..

… as well as these “Panhard” ones.

Of course, there was a rather great number of the “Citroën Traction Avant”. They came into production in 1934 and we can see them in all movies from WW II times. Production was resumed after the war and continued until the mid-1950’s.  

Another famous “Citroën” is of course the “2CV” model, produced until as late as 1990.

There were also a few “Fiat Cinquecento” cars, the last ones produced in the middle of the 1970’s.

I was surprised to see only a few of the wonderful “BMC Minis” (I had one)… and only one “Peugeot” of the “Columbo” model.

There were of course also a few “Volkswagen Beetles”…

… and also “Volkswagen” (macro-)buses.  

I was surprised again to see relatively few of the “Citroën DS” model, produced during 20 years (1955-75), famous for its design and suspension. ..

… but the “Citroën SM” model, considering its relative rareness, was quite well represented.

Here are some examples of standard, typical, cars from the 1960’s to the 1980’s…

… and some utility cars.

We could also see a number of “Jeeps”, “Land-Rovers”…

The local transport system was represented by some buses.

Some followers were riding vintage motor bikes…

… whereas others were biking.  


Saint Germain Market

The Saint-Germain Market has existed in different forms since the 15th century, originally linked to the Saint-Germain-des-Prés Abbey. Different buildings have succeeded each other during the centuries… 

The present structure is from late 20th century and imitates somehow the older ones. With a mixture of food and fashion shops and despite being very well located, the market has had some difficulties getting really popular in the last few years. The whole place now has new owners and has been completely remodeled on the street level. 
It’s not easy to get a realistic and good view of the outside design of the building - the surrounding streets being quite narrow.

In part of the street level there is still a space where you can find things to eat and drink…

… but large spaces are now occupied by outlets of international giants like (U.S.) Apple (yes, I’m a customer)…

… like (Japanese) Uniqlo (yes, I’m a customer)…

… like (British) Marks & Spencer (yes, I’m a customer)…

… like (Swiss) Nespresso (yes, I’m a customer – some 10 coffees per day).

The building houses also an underground gymnasium, a swimming pool, parking space… and, on the top floor, a music school, an auditorium… 


Delacroix paintings restored.

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1865) made three paintings which decorate a chapel in the Saint Sulpice Church. I talked about them in a previous post (see here), but they were then under a heavily needed restoration, which lasted about a year. They are now visible again! 

There are two mural paintings and one ceiling painting on stretched canvas. They were all executed rather late in Delacroix’s life, officially inaugurated in 1861, two years before his death. He spent a few years on preparing and executing these paintings, of course interrupted by other commitments and personal works. To be close to the church, he actually moved to the nearby Place Fürstenberg, where you now can visit his museum (see here).

The paintings go under the names of “Jacob wrestling with the Angel”, “Helodorius driven out of the Temple” and – the ceiling canvas – “Saint Michael slaying the Dragon”.

I could not resist showing some of the other most famous Delacroix paintings… and his by Nadar photographed portrait (which he didn’t like and had asked Nadar to destroy).