Around Avenue des Ternes.

Today, a little walk through the western parts of the 17th arrondissement, more or less around Avenue des Ternes and west of  Place des Ternes, on which I already posted (see here).

The word Ternes seems to have its origin in the name of a farm, outside the city limits, a “ferme externe”. “Externa” (in latin) became “estern” and “ternes”. The farm became a little castle of which we today can see some modest remains. A street through the castle was opened during the 18th century… and the surrounding area got more and more inhabited. More streets were created and on the trace of the major road from Paris (Porte Maillot) to the Saint Denis Basilica (see post here) a railway was built, part of the “Petite Ceinture” (see previous post here - and some others here). The whole area became part of Paris in 1860. Here is a comparison between 1800 and today. 

Avenue des Ternes is today a very busy street with a number of shops.

The first little chapel in the area was obviously built in what now is referred to as “Villa des Ternes”, a private enclosed area with tree-lined little streets and some remarkable buildings. One of the little streets is even named “Avenue de la Chapelle”.  

The first real church was built in the middle of the 19th century and is now replaced by an imposing building which was built between 1937 and 1957 (WWII interrupted the construction), “Saint Ferdinand des Ternes”. It’s in a neo-byzantine style with three cupolas.

What may be particularly attractive here are the open market streets.

One bakery is particularly appreciated by the Swedish Paris population – they offer the so called "prinsesstårta" (princess cake).


U.S. presidential elections – in Paris.

“Harry’s Bar”, rue Daunou, was opened in 1911 as the “New York Bar”. The barman Harry MacElhone took over in 1923 and added his name to the bar. It has stayed in his family since. Among the guests over the years there are names like Ernest Hemingway (see my post from 2009 about Hemingway’s Paris habits), Ali Khan, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart, Jack Dempsey, Coco Chanel, the Duke of Windsor… and George Gershwin composed “American in Paris”.

This is also where for each U.S. presidential election since 1924 a “straw poll” takes place. You must be a U.S. citizen to participate. The results have always corresponded to the real result with exceptions for 1976 (Jimmy Carter) and 2004 (George W. Bush). The box is there and the U.S. ambassador (Jane Hartley) was the first one to cast her ballot a couple of days ago. She then also stated that only 5% of Americans abroad voted in 2012 – “let’s do better”. The “straw poll” results will be known only on the Election Day, November 8. 

(By the way, the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel is now again open – hotel recently renovated. I was there last week, had a Dry Martini – 30€. Nice, but it will not be on a daily basis.)


Maillol ... and "Ben"

There is a museum, rue Grenelle, dedicated to the sculptor Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) who specialized in the female body. It was created in 1995 (was recently renovated)  by one of his former models, Diana Vierny (1919-2009), who became a gallery owner and art dealer … and donated the great number of Maillol statues that you can find in the Tuileries Gardens (see previous post).

At the moment, the Maillol Museum proposes a temporary exhibition by a surprising artist, “Ben” (Ben Vautier 1935 - ). 

"Ben" lives in Nice, where he ran a “shop” between 1958 and 1973. He’s known as an avant-garde, post-modern artist… known for “performances”, « installations », « mail-art », « écritures »… and street art – like here in Paris, rue Menilmontant (see also previous post).

Let’s not forget Aristide Maillol and the permanent collection. Maillol was also a creator of tapestry in the past. Three of his statues decorate the staircase of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.  

(There are a number of very interesting exhibitions in Paris at the moment. Here are some other examples: Rembrandt, Oscar Wilde, Diego Rivera/Frida Kahlo..., Hergé, Fantin-Latour, Magritte, "Icons of Modern art".)

The entrance to the Maillol Museum is adjacent to an 18th century monumental fountain, “La Fontaine des Quatre Saisons”. It offered despite its size only small quantities of drinking water to the Parisians. It was already at its creation criticized for being a bit too imposing for this rather narrow street.

The bottom floor and the basement (now a restaurant) of the present museum used to house a cabaret, also named “La Fontaine des Quatre Saisons”, in the 1950-60’s, managed by the brothers Jacques and Pierre Prévert. All names of performers in the cabaret may not be known abroad, but I wish to mention Maurice Béjart, Guy Bedos, Mouloudji, Jean Yanne, Philippe Clay, Francis Blanche, Les Frères Jacques… and Boris Vian who created his famous anti-war song, “Le Déserteur” (The Deserter) here. 


A park by night.

This summer it was decided that some of the larger Paris parks should stay open 24 hours a day. This was also the case with the Clichy-Batignolles – Martin Luther King Park on which I have posted a number of times.  This previous rail shunt yard – for a while thought to be the Olympic village if Paris had got the 2012 summer games - has now since a number of years been transformed into a very popular park surrounded by residential and office buildings – many still under construction.

I took a walk one night. Here we have a comparison of day and night views.    



I have often wanted to get behind this gate…for many reasons. Finally…

One reason was to see the northern “mire”! It’s placed in the garden of what now is a private residence at Montmartre and which corresponds to the famous “Moulin de la Galette”. This “mire” has stood here since 1736 and is one of the two monuments you can find inside Paris to mark the French Meridian. The other one, the southern “mire” can be found in the Parc de Montsouris (see previous post).

I have already written about the French Meridian several times, e.g. after a visit to the Paris Observatory (see here). Maybe just a few words to remind you that the French Meridian (also sometimes referred to as the “Rose Line”) was defined in 1667 and later played an important role in the establishment of the metric system and the meter – introduced by the First French Republic in 1799 (and today adopted by all countries except Liberia, Myanmar… and the U.S.).  In 1884, there was an international conference to decide on one Meridian – there were tens of them - and the British Greenwich Meridian became the international reference. (When the French agreed to abandon their line, there was a compensation granted by the British - a promise to go for the metric system; it took some time.)  

In 1994 some 135 "Arago medallions" were placed along the line (many have been stolen since). François Arago (1786-1853) was a French astronomer (and much more) who - among many other things - helped determine the exactitude of the Meridian and the Meter. One of the medallions is placed in front of the “mire” and we can see that there has been a slight correction to the original line (see top picture).  

Let us also remember that between the two remaining buildings and the two wind mills, “Blute-fin” and “Radet”, the owning family Debray decided in 1870 to establish a “guinguette” (small restaurant with music and dancing) when milling by the force of wind was not profitable anymore – the “Moulin de la Galette” was opened to public and became extremely popular for some decades. 

Here we have again some illustrations by painters including one of the most famous Renoir ones and the first Paris painting sold by Picasso (see here). People could then walk around in the area and climb a platform of the “Blute-fin” mill, where later a dancing scene in “An American in Paris” with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron takes place (obviously shot in studio).