Two squares

Today, we will visit two squares, very close to each other: One bigger one, Place des Victoires, and a smaller one, Place des Petits Pères.

First - Place des Victoires:

Place des Victoires is a round square (can a square be round?) created by the end of the 17th century according to plans by J.H. Mansart, one of Louis XIV’s architects.

The original statue, glorifying Louis XIV’s war victories (far from always true), in the middle of the place was (of course) destroyed during the Revolution. The present one dates from 1828 and represents Louis XIV, dressed like a Roman emperor, sitting on a horse pulled up on its hind legs. (There is a myth saying that one hoof off ground indicated that the person on the horseback got wounded during a battle, but recovered, and that two hoofs off the ground meant that he was killed in action. This is obviously not always true. Louis XIV died in his bed at Versailles at the age of almost 77, after 72 years on the throne.)

Today, you can find a number of fashion shops here, especially a major Kenzo one.

By one of the six streets leading to and from the place, you can reach the home of the French National Bank.

Second - Place des Petits Pères: Just behind Place des Victoires, you can thus find a more modest square, Place des Petits Pères – “Small Fathers”*. The name refers to a community of (barefooted) Augustine monks. A convent was constructed for them here, but today remains only the Notre-Dames-des-Victoires Basilica. The construction of the church started in 1629 but it took some decades before it was finished in its more or less present form in 1656. The facade dates from 1740. The Revolution transformed the church into a stock exchange (1795-1809). What is especially striking inside the church is that almost all walls are covered by ex-votos, some 40.000 of them.

One of the buildings on the place has a less honourable history; it was the site for the Commissariat for Jewish Questions 1941-44.

There are some nice old shops around the place.
*/ It’s said that the name “Small Fathers” comes from the fact that two small-sized representatives of the order met the king (Henry IV) to ask for his support to get established in Paris. The king should then have said “Qui sont ces petit pères-là?" (Who are those small fathers?)


Passages and Galleries

There are a number of (mostly) 19th century “passages” or “galleries” in Paris. They were somehow the predecessors to present shopping centres - rain and weather protected. I have already posted about some of them:
Passage Prado (1785), Passage Jouffroy (1847); Passage des Panoramas (1834), Passage Vendôme (abt. 1825), Passage Brady (1828 ), Passage Bourg l’Abbé (1828) and Passage du Grand Cerf (abt. 1830).

There are many more. This is about some of them which are quite geographically grouped (see Google map at the end).

I have no specific information about Passage Hulot – and there is not much to see - except that it’s officially closed (however still open) and that obviously Molière died in an apartment at this address (1673), soon after having collapsed on scene at the nearby theatre (Palais Royal). (No plate to be seen, but his statue is very close.) (You can find a post about Palais Royal I made last year.)

Passage des Deux Pavillons is just an opening between Palais Royal and Galérie Colbert and Galérie Vivienne (see below).

Galérie Vivienne (1826) (see also top pcture) was very much "à la mode" during a few decades after its opening, full of fashionable shops, drinking and eating places. In 1830, Berlioz led crowds here, singing “La Marseillaise” to celebrate the revolution of the July monarchy. A few decades later, games and prostitution were prohibited in the nearby Palais Royal and the number of visitors decreased. In the beginning of the 20th century, it was thought to have the Gallery demolished, but it somehow survived, was restored and in the in the 70’s and 80’s it became again fashionable, to a large extent thanks to Kenzo and J-P Gaultier who installed shops and made fashion shows here.
Galérie Colbert (1827), opening one year after Galérie Vivienne, never achieved the same popularity. It was completely rebuilt in 1985. Today it’s owned by the nearby National Library and is basically occupied by official institutions (National Institute for Art History and some Sorbonne University activities). There is also a restaurant, Le Grand Colbert, with a typical 19th century brasserie setting, and a statue, “Eurydice bitten by a snake”, by C.F.Nanteuil-Lebeuf; there is another “Eurydice-statue” by him at the Louvre.
Galérie Viro-Dodat (1826) was created by two butchers, Viro and Dodat. It was restored in the 80’s and still offers a number of quite elegant shops and a café (where Gérard de Nerval had a last drink before he hanged himself). You can find some very nice ceiling paintings.
Here is where you can find these places.


A white "M"

It seems that there is a regulation concerning the shop (restaurant etc...) signs allowed on the Champs-Elysées. They must be white - or possibly “golden”. This is the reason why you here can find what is supposed to be the only white McDonald's “M” in the world. (The "M" on the wall is golden.)

I wanted to check if the regulations are respected also more in general, and basically I can confirm that this is (more or less) the case. There are some “golden” exceptions to the white, which should be OK. However, I have a doubt concerning some other ones – see the right column. Shall I make a report to the authorities? It’s Friday again. I wish you a very nice weekend!


Saint Rita Chapel

Just across the street (Boulevard de Clichy) from Moulin Rouge, you can find a very modest chapel, devoted to Saint Rita. The chapel is actually just the ground floor of a building where the great Moulin Rouge promoter Toulouse-Lautrec seems to have lived and worked a couple of years.

Rita is the Saint of “lost cases” and obviously also adopted by prostitutes... The modest chapel, which has just been renovated, is much frequented by representatives of the local professions – we are in what commonly is called the Pigalle area.


More from Montmartre (2)

I’m reverting to my post of last Friday and with some more Montmartre spots which I believe are worth a visit, if you have the time. You can revert to the Google map in the previous post.

I recently told you about a small “wild” park, close to the Père Lachaise cemetery. There is a second, similar one on the northern slope of Montmartre, “Parc Saint Vincent”, neighbour to the vineyard “Clos de Montmartre”. It’s very discrete, open for visitors only Saturday afternoons during the summer months. It’s not extremely spectacular, but if you are really interested in wild trees, bushes and flowers, this may a place to go. Two young ladies, in charge of the park, collected frogpoles in the small pond, to be shown to some visiting kids later in the afternoon. In my Friday post, I showed some pictures from some nice private homes. Here are some other examples from a small street, called Villa Léandre.One curiosity, which you can normally only see from the outside, is the present home of FEMIS, the French state film school, actually European, previously called IDHEC. The school moved in here in 1999 in what used to be “Pathé” film studios. The school has got a number of – at least in France - well-known pupils like Malle, Resnais, Sautet, Schlöndorff, Zulawski, Corneau, Costa Gavras, P.Leconte, C.Miller, Téchiné, R.Enrico, J-J Annaud, Boisset... In the studios some of the more famous French films were partly shot, e.g. some of the most famous Marcel Carné films (see below).

I have a tendency to talk about cemeteries. The most famous one here is of course the Montmartre Cemetery on which I have made several posts. There is a second, very small one, the Calvaire Cemetery, open to public only one day each year (November 1) on which I also posted. There is a third and last one at Montmartre, the Saint Vincent Cemetery. Also here you can find some celebrities buried like composer Arthur Honegger, painter Maurice Utrillo, film director Marcel Carné (Quai de Brumes/Port of Shadows, Hôtel du Nord, Le jour se lève/Daybreak, Les Enfants du Paradis/Children of Paradise...), author Marcel Aymé (Le Passe-Muraille/The Walker-Through-Walls). A sculpture of Aymé, made by Jean Marais, representing him as a walker-through-walls, can be found outside his home at Montmartre. Finally, there is also another grave of the Debray family, owners of the last surviving Montmartre windmill, “Moulin de la Galette”. Four brothers of this family are buried at the Calvaire cemetery and there is a story linked to this, which I have already told, giving the background to the name “Moulin Rouge”. I know, this is again too long, but as a last souvenir from this walk around Montmartre, some flowers (and bees):

I will be away for two days. I'm sorry, but I will not have the time to visit your blogs. I promise to do it later!


More from Montmartre

When you make a first visit to Montmartre, you normally concentrate on Sacré Coeur and the Place du Tertre. There is more to see. I have already covered a few items which you can find under the Montmartre label.

Comparatively few visitors visit the northern side of Montmartre. You can also reach Sacré Coeur from this "opposite side" and get a different first view, like here on the top picture.

In any case, unless you use the small bus service or the funicular, you must be prepared to climb some stairs. These photos were taken a July Saturday afternoon and you can see how much calmer it is on the northern slope of the hill, compared to the crowd in Rue Norvins leading to Place du Tertre (top left) . There are a number of things to be seen, including the oldest Montmartre remaining building, today the Montmartre Museum. Renoir and Utrillo lived and worked here during periods. There is also the vineyard, “Clos de Montmartre” (on which I already posted), and the famous small cabaret “Lapin Agile” (on which I also already posted). You can also find e.g. the well-known “Maison Rose”, painted by Utrillo (which obviously has got a second floor added.) Generally, you can also just walk around and enjoy the calm environment, look at the nice housing, more easily find a free table at a bar or restaurant...... or sit down rather alone in one of several parks. In one of them, you can find a statue of Saint Denis – “patron” of Paris and France, who according to the legend was martyred and beheaded at Montmartre and then walked, carrying his head in his arms, to Saint Denis, north of Paris, where he finally died and where the Saint Denis Basilica was then erected (see post). There are some other specific spots to be seen, but I believe this post is again getting too long. I will revert. In the meantime, I wish you a very nice weekend!


Stravinsky Fountain

Very close to the Pompidou Centre (Beaubourg) you can find the Stravinsky Fountain. It was created in 1982 by Niki de Saint Phalle and her husband Jean Tinguely, inspired by Stravinsky’s music. It contains totally 16 sculptures. The most spectacular one is perhaps the Saint Phalle illustration of the Firebird (L’Oiseau de Feu), on the right of the top picture. These mechanical sculptures are still functioning some 25 years later (not always the case with other modern sculptures). (A video would have been better here.)

In the background you can see the flamboyant gothic church, Saint Merri, with its 14th century bell (the oldest one in Paris).


(I recently showed a Niki de Saint Phalle "Flying Angel" in Zürich and less recently "Birdman" by Jean Tinguely.)


Mid-month theme – subways

The 15th of each month is the day for the mid-month theme – “subways”, which I share with bloggers from NYC, Stockholm and Budapest. You can find today’s posts and some other related posts by using the following links:

New York City Daily Blog - Stockholm by pixelsBudapest by Andrea GerakPeter’s Paris

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

This view is of an express subway train, coming from Versailles, just before it reaches the Paris underground. It’s taken close to the Seine River. I was surprised to find all these wild flowers. (Photo taken some three weeks ago.)

I made a second post today.

Too late...

There was a meeting of the Union of the Mediterranean countries held in the Grand Palais in Paris last Sunday. During the National Holiday festivities Monday (July 14) the UN Secretary-General, some 40 national leaders and foreign ministers watched the traditional military parade. I was too late. The stand was empty. I could just see some nice colours on the pavement which had helped the parading troops to take the right direction, some cables, some equipment... ... and I was not invited to the cocktail party at the Elysée Palace. I could just notice that the guests obviously were well treated. The supply of food and drinks seems to have been taken care of.

... and, I'm sorry, but I did not bring any pictures from the free concert for some 700 thousand people (James Blunt - who even performed in French - and number of French artists) and the fireworks around the Eiffel Tower; you already saw some pictures of the Tower a couple of days ago.


A temporary garden

Since the mid of June until August 17, you can find a temporary garden in front of the Paris Town Hall. There is even a pond!

The Town Hall as such is an impressive building. The interior was completely destroyed in 1871 by a fire set by some participants of the “Commune”. So, if the interior then had to be completely rebuilt, the walls are basically from the 16th century.
I will let the decorations and the flags on the front of Town Hall serve as an illustration for July 14, the French National Holiday!


A European Eiffel Tower

I have been a bit unfaithful to Paris lately (Zürich, Lausanne, Rouen...), so maybe time for something very typically "Paris", the Eiffel Tower! I happened to pass by Trocadéro the other night, from where you have the most traditional view of the Tower and I thought I should show what the it now looks like during the evening and night hours. This is a special feature during the six months (July-December 2008) that France holds the EU presidency.

I wish you a very nice weekend!


Switzerland (2)

As mentioned in my post last Friday, I wish to revert to my visit to Switzerland. After Zürich and surroundings, I thus also made a short visit to and around Lausanne (where I also met a blogger friend, Delphinium). Lausanne is on the northern side of Lake Léman (or Lake Geneva), just in front of Evian on the French side of the lake. A number of nice small, often old and paddle driven, ships allow visiting the different places around the lake. The lake lies in the course of the Rhône River, which takes its source in the Swiss Alps and finally reaches the Mediterranean, forming the large Camargue delta (see previous post).

Lausanne is a city in Romandy, a French speaking part of Switzerland. It has a population slightly exceeding 300.000.

A good physical condition helps to visit the city; the streets are sometimes steep. To walk from the lake shore, with some very nice hotels, bars and restaurants, to visit the “old town”, the 12th century Notre Dame Cathedral, the Sainte Marie Castle etc... far higher up can be quite sweaty a hot summer day. But there are some nice places for refreshment also when you reach the top.

Lausanne offers a lot of cultural activities and it’s also the home of the International Olympic Committee. The city is on both sides surrounded by vineyards. I went eastwards by train to visit the Lavaux region which stretches almost all the way from Lausanne to Montreux. I stopped about half way, took a tour up on the beautiful slopes to a village called Epesses, tasted some of the local very nice white wine and then walked back for two or three hours along the beautiful lakeside.

Joann kindly gave me the award "Arte y Pico". (This is actually the second time I receive it.) Sincere thanks for this honour!!