Close to the Père Lachaise Cemetery

If you are visiting the Père Lachaise Cemetery (see previous post), and have some extra time, there are a few things to be seen just south of the cemetery. There are actually some stairs and a small gate leading directly to one of the smallest parks in Paris, “Le Jardin Naturel” (The Natural Garden). As the name indicates it’s natural and wild, nothing is cut, nothing is watered. It’s also very calm - very few visitors (the address is 120, rue de la Réunion). Within a minute’s walk from the park, you can find some small streets with old workshops and some living facilities. Most of similar workshops elsewhere have been or are on their way to be transformed to expensive lofts, but not here. You imagine yourself in a different century, or at least in a different decade. The small streets you could visit are called Villa Riberolle, Cité Aubry, Rue Ligner, Rue de Lesseps... The access may partly be difficult during the weekend; some gates may be closed. One of the old workshops has however been transformed – for an artist association called “Goumen Bis”. The walls have some very elaborate graffiti. I will be off, travelling, for about a week. I will probably not blog before Friday next week. Take care and keep blogging!


"Front de Seine"

I have obviously a tendency to show more of ancient than of modern buildings in Paris. As a change I thought I should now show a bit of the more modern looking waterfront between the Eiffel Tower (southwards, left bank) and the Pont (bridge) de Garigliano (on which you can find the "Telephone Booth" by Frank O. Gehry (see previous post)), passing by the (copy of) the Statue of Liberty (see previous posts). This area has been completely reconstructed since the 70’. The area goes under the name “Front de Seine”. The most recent towers or modest skyscrapers date from 1990 and are the last ones to be allowed to be built within Paris city limits, at least so far. The area includes also the “Parc Citroën”, occupying the space of an abandoned Citroën factory (see previous post) and some even more recent buildings including a new modern hospital (Hôpital Européen George Pompidou), less high. None of the buildings exceed about 100 m (330 ft) and some 30 floors (except a 130 m (425 ft) high chimney for evacuation of smoke and vapour linked to central heating systems).

This is perhaps not "typically Paris", but it's still Paris.


Fête de la Musique

Saturday was summer solstice and also, for the 27th time, "Fête de la Musique", now obviously known as “World Music Day”. It started in France in 1982 and is now spread to some 100 countries.

Concerts, for free, are given all over the city. Last year I made the tour to the more frequented places where the most renowned artists were performing and where most people go (see post). This year I decided to stay around the area where I live. However, early afternoon I passed in front of the home of our President, the Elysée Palace; and I realised that there was music inside, in the inner court, and that public was let in, exceptionally. When I arrived, the “Garde Républicain” just finished their part and some soft piano music took over. To my additional surprise, Nicolas and Carla, who were hosts, took a walk to meet the people. As expected, all the professional photographers were in the front line, but at the end they come up close to where I stood.
Later in the afternoon and until 3 Sunday morning I was back to “Batignolles” where I live. The weather was perfect, there were concerts all over, the streets and the cafés were jammed.

Normally, I will be back with a post Wednesday!


La Ruche

Alfred Boucher was a successful French sculptor (1850-1934). He was Camille Claudel’s (see previous post) first teacher and a good friend of Auguste Rodin and was the one who brought them together. He was a generous person and offered a place for less fortunate artists to work and live. The place is called “La Ruche” (“The Beehive”) and the major, round, building was originally a temporary installation created by Gustave Eiffel as a “wine rotunda” for the Universal Exhibition 1900. It was dismantled and re-erceted at Passage de Dantzig (see Google map below) in 1902. The wooden stairs in the middle of the central building under the lantern are quite impressive (photo below)!

Artists – painters, sculptors, writers... - who lodged here were supposed to pay a very low rent – often they never paid at all. Among the occupants you would find Guillaume Appolinaire, Ossip Zadkine, Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger, Max Jacob, Chaim Soutine, Blaise Cendrars, Robert Delaunay, Amadeo Modigliani, Constantin Brancusi, Diego Rivera... For a while there was even a small theatre where the later Fench top actor Louis Jouvet played.

From “La Ruche”, the lodgers could rather easily walk to Marie Vasieleff’s canteen at the “Chemin de Montparnasse” (on which I also recently posted) for an almost free meal. They were then also close to Boulevard Raspail and Rue Campagne Première with other artist studios ... and bistros (on which I also recently posted) and also to Boulevard Montparnasse with legendary restaurants like “La Coupole”, “Le Dôme”...

“La Ruche” declined during the 40’s and 50’s, should have been replaced by modern apartment buildings, but was saved thanks to the intervention of Chagall, Sartre, Calder, Renoir, Malraux and some others and since 1971 it’s again open for artists, today with some 50 “guests”. It’s now a foundation.

It’s however not open for visitors, but thanks to a kind artist who arrived at the same time as I in front of the gate, I managed to get inside and also to have a walk in the surrounding garden. (I can imagine the nice parties that must have taken place here.) The place is just under renovation again (needed). The weather was once more very cloudy, but I did my best to get a few pictures. I wish you a nice weekend!


Passy Cemetery

I have already made a number of posts about Paris cemeteries, the larger ones like Père Lachaise, Montparnasse, Montmartre, but also some of the smaller ones like Batignolles, Calvaire, Charonne and Picpus. Today we will visit another one, Passy.

The Passy Cemetery neighbours Trocadéro, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. It’s not one of the bigger ones in Paris, but it has some fine funerary sculptures and tombs and it’s the resting place for some interesting personalities. (During my recent visit the weather was a mix of rain, clouds and small sun glimpses – I had some problems to take decent photos.) Among the tombs you can find those of painters like Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot; composers like Claude Debussy, Gabriel Faure; writers like Tristan Bernard, Jean Giraudoux, Maurice Genevoix, Lucie Faure, Octave Mirbeau; fashion designers like Jean Patou; statesmen like Georges Mandel, Edgar Faure; industrialists like Marcel Renault, Francis Bouygues, Marcel Dassault; actors like Fernandel (“Don Camillo”), Pearl White... Other tombs are those of Leila Pahlavi (daughter of the last shah of Iran – see all the flowers), Emmanuel de las Cases (“secretary” to Napoleon at St. Helena) and Bao Dai (last emperor of Vietnam).

The place has a concentration of tombs of aviation pioneers: Henry Farman (the first person to fly 1 km), Dieudonné Costes and Maurice Bellonte (both with several long distance records and the first to fly westbound Paris – New York in 1930). You can also find the grave of the chief stewardess on the Concorde that crashed after takeoff at the Charles de Gaulle airport in 2000, Huguette le Gouadec. The most astonishing monument is probably the mausoleum of Marie Bashkirtseff, a painter and sculptor, born in Ukraine and who died young, by tuberculosis, at the age of 25 in 1884. She has also become famous for her very complete diary and for letters she exchanged with important personalities, e.g. Guy de Maupassant. A lot of what she produced was destroyed during WW II bombings, but you can see some of her paintings here – exhibited in some of the most illustrious museums worldwide - including her self-portrait. As you can see below, her monument contains actually a full sized studio and one of her last paintings can be seen on the wall (she is buried downstairs). I would recommend that you try to learn something more about her, if you don't already know her!

You can find some of these pictures on my photo-blog.
I expect to be back with a new post on Friday.



Last week I went to see the ongoing Camille Claudel exhibition at the Rodin Museum. I went early in the morning, as there is a long queue to get in.

I guess Camille Claudel and her life is known to most of you, but maybe just a few words: Camille Claudel (1864-1943) was one of the best sculptors ever. She worked first as an apprentice with Auguste Rodin, was his mistress for a couple of years, then worked independently for a few years, before being admitted to a psychiatric hospital in 1913. She spent her last 30 years in psychiatric institutions, on the demand of her family, including her famous author brother Paul, despite proposals from her doctors to have her released.

She destroyed a lot of her works; only some 90 statues, drawings and sketches remain... and almost all of it can be seen at the ongoing exhibition (April 15 – July 20). I would strongly recommend a visit!

I had of course the intention to take photos – and started. After my first four photos, on kind advice by the personnel, I realised that you are allowed to take photos in the Rodin museum (see previous post), but not of the exhibition. So instead I thought I should show you another art exhibition - where I was allowed to take photos.
Last Saturday my granddaughter Paloma, together with her kindergarten colleagues gave a “concert” with songs from different French regions – this is the reason she wears a regional dress. (She was strongly supported by her young brother Mattias.) After the “concert”, we were invited to see what kind of art she and her friends had produced during the school year, which soon is finished. I was amazed by the quality also of this exhibition!

My next post shold normally follow Wednesday.


Mid-month theme - subways. Metro station Sèvres Babylon.

Normally I should not be posting today, but the 15th of each month is the day for the mid-month theme – “subways”, which I share with bloggers in NYC and Stockholm – and, as from this month, also Budapest. There is now no restriction concerning any more specific subject – the post must just relate to anything concerning “subways”. You can find today’s posts – and some other subway related posts – by using the following links:

(As I recently have changed blog, you can find my older subway posts under the following link: PHO.)

My only photo (exceptionally) today is from a very colourful metro station, Sèvres Babylon. Normally the tiles should be just white. Here they have been partly painted.
This is the station you would use if you go to "Le Bon Marché", the first Paris department store (1887), certainly one of the best, situated on the left bank, whereas most of the others are on the right bank of the Seine. Gustaf Eiffel made part of the plans. I should make a post about it one day.


A small alley

In the shadow of the Montparnasse Tower (the day I took the photo, all of Paris was in shadow) there is a small alley which you can find if you walk along Avenue de Maine (at no. 21).

(The 56 floor Montparnasse Tower (Tour de Montparnasse) was built 1969-72; was much criticised and two years later further building of skyscrapers was banned inside the city limits.) The alley, which now goes under the name “Chemin (passage) de Montparnasse” was saved from destruction in the 80’s and reopened in the 90’s. It was originally created in 1901, by using material left over after the 1900 Universal International Exhibition, with cheap studios for artists and artisans. One of the bigger studios was taken over by a Russian female artist, Marie Vasieleff, who, in need of some cash, later opened a canteen. In the years before and during WW I the canteen got very popular among still poor, starving and thirsty artists who spent a lot of time here, also partly working. Despite the war curfew, the place, which was considered as a private club, was open late in the night ... and crowded. Among her (not much) paying guests you could find Chagall, Picasso, Leger, Modigliani (involved again in a famous “dispute” here), Zadkine, Soutine, Matisse...

Between 1938 and 1952, there was a theatre workshop in the alley, directed by J-M Serreau and Roger Blin, who discovered and mounted the first plays by Beckett, Ionesco and Genet. Now you can thus still here find studios, today used by some artists and architects, and there is also what is called the “Musée de Montparnasse”, which is what used to be Marie Vasieleff’s studio / canteen. It’s today used for art exhibitions – and unfortunately completely remade.

You can find some of these pictures on my photo-blog.

Maria, mother of Krystyna, very kindly offered me this reward, "Arte y pico"! Sincere thanks for this honour! I should forward it to some other bloggers. I will think it over seriously before taking action! :-)

In the meantime I wish you a very nice weekend!


Le Corbusier, Mallet-Stevens

I already posted about some buildings from the 20’s which can be found around Rue du Docteur Blanche in the 16th arrondissement, representing perfect examples of what may be referred to as Industrial Style, Art Moderne...

When I visited this street last time, one of my examples, a complex of apartment buildings designed by Mallet-Stevens, was partly in heavy need of being repainted. Now I saw that it all was freshly painted in white, so I thought I should give it a “new chance”. You like this kind of architecture or not, but it’s definitely more attractive when in good shape. A bit further down the street is a gate to a private street, Square Docteur Blanche, where you can find Villa La Roche, built for a Swiss banker and modern art collector, with Le Corbusier as architect. The villa was given to the Le Corbusier Foundation. Once again, when I passed last time, a Sunday, it was closed, but this time it was open and there was even an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Le Corbusier. The exterior and interior design come out quite well on pictures, but, when looking through the windows and seeing some more old fashioned buildings - and their gardens, I know that my preference would go to a more cosy environment.

For some more detailed information about Mallet-Stevens and Le Corbusier – if you are interested, you can refer to my previous post about this street.

I have recently showed some other examples of Le Corbusier buildings in Paris, at the Paris University Campus and at Square Montsouris.
Some of theses pictures can be found on my photo-blog.
I told you in my previous post that I will reduce my posting to two or three times per week. I believe that next time will be Friday this week.