26.4.08

Extra post

Normally I made a last post yesterday, before leaving for a good week. However, I just could not avoid taking some pictures from “my” park yesterday, a very nice spring day, and I thought I should share them with you. So, here they are! Pigeons are not loved by everybody, but those in this park are quite nice – and clean! I found the tree where they like to hide. (… except a couple in love.) There are so many types of ducks etc… around. There were some newly born babies on the lawn. I don’t know which colours they will take later. So once more! See you later, probably around May 5th!

25.4.08

Not too far from Place de la Nation


Following up the post from yesterday, here are some more views from the neighbourhood of Place de la Nation, walking northwards in direction of the Père Lachaise cemetery and Place de la République, through the 11th arrondissement. I’m sure I could have found other and more interesting items; what I show is rather at random, as usual by looking right and left. I just put some red points on the map to show you basically where you could find what I found.

Some of the old workshops I show have been transformed to offices, to art galleries, some to small theatres, some to flats… Others are used for wholesale, especially clothing, business and some are stilll workshops. Maybe some more detailed information: The top picture was just taken in a courtyard. It’s a door window of what has obviously been a workshop for stained glass.

On one of the pictures below, you can read “Cours Simon”. A majority of French actors, including the most famous ones, have followed courses here. You can see two young future stars in front of the building, having a relaxed rehearsal. Behind some modern buildings, I found a mansion house, which is what remains of what used to be a hospital established here in 1768. Several members of royalty and nobility managed during the Revolution to escape from the guillotine by being hospitalised here (against considerable fees paid to the owner).

Some of the French readers may recognize the Testut sign on one of the below buildings. This is where this balance maker (recently absorbed / disappeared) was established in 1820.

Many people consider that we have too many pigeons in our cities. It’s maybe surprising to see that the city of Paris has invested in a pigeon-house. You can find it just in front of where a guillotine was installed 1851-1899 at what was the entrance gate to the since then demolished Grande Roquette prison (see one of my posts from last year). I have placed some of the pictures from yesterday and today on my photo-blog, with the heading “11th arrondissement- miscellaneous”.

I will not only wish you a nice weekend, but two nice weekends and also nice days in between! I will leave for Sweden for a bit more than a week. My program and the places where I will stay will probably not allow me to be connected to the blogging world. I expect to be back blogging again May 5th. See you then!!

24.4.08

Close to Place de la Nation

After my visit to Place de Nation (see my post yesterday), I had walk in the neighbourhood. The area is generally a mixture of older Haussmann type and more modern buildings, fairly well integrated. You will find quite a bit of green space. But there are also traces of when this was a more industrial area during the 19th century. Very close to the Place de la Nation we will find a street with a very speaking and somehow surprising name – Rue des Immeubles Industriels (Industrial Buildings Street). The buildings along this street date from 1872 and are all similar - ground floor and first floor for workshops and then three floors for living. The apartments were from the very beginning equipped with gas, warm and hot water and the street had its own power station. The business here was then basically furniture manufacturing. Today, you will find mostly smaller offices and cabinets downstairs and normal flats on the upper floors. Always looking to the left and the right and with a bit of luck you can find small side streets and courtyards with some interesting features. Slightly further away from the Place, where Rue de Montreuil and Rue Titon meet, I found one open gate and discovered what you can see here below and on the top picture. I have no specific info about these buildings, obviously old workshops which have not yet been transformed (or destroyed?). Today they are occupied by some small workshops, some temporary art galleries and a few people seem still to live here, including, I believe, some squatters. I even used one of the stairs to visit the second floor - definitely not the highest standard. Walking up Rue Titon I found some other courtyards where the old workshops from the 19th century have been transformed into more modern and quite nice looking small offices and cabinets. On this spot you could during the 18th century find a small paper mill where Pilâtre de Rozier, partly using paper as material, was given the opportunity to manufacture a Montgolfier hot air balloon onboard which he, here, in October 1783, became the world’s first astronaut (80 meters, 260 ft, above ground with the Montgolfier retained by ropes). A few weeks later he made the first ever flight from what now is the 16th to the 13th arrondissement in Paris (see two previous posts; 1, 2).

23.4.08

Place de la Nation

I have the intention to show you some small more “secret” sites in the neighbourhood of Place de la Nation, but first I thought I must say something about the place itself.

The place was originally called the “Place du Trône” (the Throne Place), as a throne was temporarily placed here to welcome the newly wedded King Louis XIV and Queen Marie Therèse on their arrival to Paris 1660. During the Revolution the place got the name “Place du Trône-Renversé” (the Overthrown Throne Place). The present name was given in 1880 on the occasion of the first 14th July (National Day) celebration. In the middle of the place you have a statue, called the “Triumph of the Republic”, erected in 1889 (100 years after the Revolution) in plaster, and in bronze 10 years later. Place de la Nation has together with Place de la Bastille and Place de la République been part of a triangle where different political manifestations, mostly “left”, traditionally take place. The lady on the top of the statue (“Marianne” representing the Republic) looks symbolically in the direction of Place de la Bastille. The columns and two pavilions being part of the “Fermiers Généraux” (Tax Farmers) wall (built in order to collect taxes on food, beverages, building material etc. - see my post January 18) were erected just before the Revolution. The statues of King Philippe Auguste and Saint Louis (King Louis IX) on top of the columns were added later (1845).

The guillotines which came into frequent use during the Revolution were not placed only on the present Place de la Concorde (then, Place de la Révolution). Another guillotine, then also frequently used, was placed close to one of the above mentioned pavilions. You can now instead find a shop (“Damart”). Some of these pictures can be found on my photo-blog.

22.4.08

Blue sky at last?

At last the sky looks blue again! Unfortunately only on this false façade! It’s temporarily put here to cover and hide some important renovating work which takes place at the department store Au Printemps – just behind the Opéra Garnier. Also, what you see mirroring in the clean windows is of course false, even in theory; the obelisk of Place de la Concorde is a bit too distant! But, at least this is a nice way to hide what’s going on behind. We can see from a photo below of a non-covered tower that there is a need to clean! (A few months ago I showed you this department store – and its neighbour Galeries Lafayette – “dressed up” for Christmas and also their glass domes.)
Just opposite to the department store is a true facade, but it’s still “false”! The shop signs indicate “Aux Tortues”, the Turtles. The shop which dates from 1864 (facade from 1910) originally sold scale and ivory decorations (obviously why there elephant heads on the front); today it’s a bakery. Fortunately the facade has been conserved and is protected.

Today will again be a day when I meet other bloggers. I may not be very active in looking and commenting on your respective posts.

21.4.08

Belleville (4)


In some previous posts I have talked about graffiti, the latest “graffiti post” showed some officially accepted examples in the “Butte aux Cailles” area. In the Belleville area you can find several examples of more or less authorized graffiti , and even some officially commanded. Shall they even be considered as graffiti? ... maybe rather just as (blind) wall decorations?

The one on top here (rue de Belleville) is by “Ben”. His full name is Ben Vautier and his reputation as an artist is today great. The text written here says in English “Beware of words!”. The guy on the platform is not a real one, but part of Ben’s work. There is actually a second “person” on the roof, holding the ropes.

One of the below paintings, the one to the left (also rue de Belleville), is a homage to Fantômas, a legendary character in French crime fiction. I could not find any signature. The one to the right is in a neighbor street, rue de Ménilmontant, and is this time a homage to the “guys of Ménilmontant”, also celebrated by Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier. It also refers to the Matisse painting “The Dance”. This one is signed by “Mesnager”, also today a well established artist.

The bike on a wire is painted by “Nemo” on the wall of what used to be a cinema, today a supermarket. You will also find some more “wild graffiti”, maybe this time rather “tagging”. These pictures were taken rue de Noyez, a street which used to be full of restaurants and cabarets, today used for temporary art exhibitions. The street is probably on its way to soon be “refreshed”.
I believe that I could say something more on Belleville, but I believe that this one will be the last in the series.

I have put some of the photos from this and previus Belleville posts on my photo-blog.

18.4.08

Belleville (3)

This is the third Belleville episode. There will be at least one more.

One of the musts when you visit the Belleville area is to go to the park, Parc de Belleville, on the southern slope of the hill. The park is quite recent (1988) and perhaps not (at least yet) the most beautiful in Paris, but from the top of it you have a fabulous view of Paris, better than from Montmartre and from about the same altitude. Where there now is a park, used to be vineyards and gypsum quarries. On the very top of the hill, the highest point in Paris, you will find a cemetery. This used to be the place of a “telegraph”, rather some kind of wooden semaphore. It’s not here anymore; there is only a stone tablet in the honor of the inventor. It was installed during the Revolution (in 1793) and was part of the first optical telegraph system (preceded by smoke signals?). The first “line” was established between Lille and Paris (240 km = 150 miles) and in clear weather messages could be transmitted via 15 similar installations on top of hills. Soon there were more than 500 of these semaphores covering some 5000 km in France, serving basically for military messaging. Communications were also established to relatively distant places like Milan and Venice and the system spread over Europe. When weather conditions were at their best, it was possible to send messages with a speed of some 3000 km = 1850 miles/hour. The system was abolished some 60 years later.
I will update my photo-blog with some of the Belleville pictures, when the series is finished; maybe Monday.

I wish you all a nice weekend!

17.4.08

Belleville (2)

There is a lot to be seen at and around Belleville. Some of you, like Mathilde, has already asked for certain missing “details”. I can only say that more will come.

I thought I would for this second part about Belleville show you some examples of housing. I already said in yesterday’s post that the area is very mixed; you will find all types of buildings. As most similar areas in Paris, also here the old “working class” aspect is on its way to disappear. The population changes and prices go up.

But, it used to be an area where you lived and worked and you can find a number of smaller and bigger workshops, which today in general have been or are on their way to be transformed to quite fashionable office space and often to lofts for living.

Talking about old workshops: One example is what used to be the French branch factory of Meccano. At least in Europe, Meccano was for decades a compulsory birthday or Christmas gift to young kids. The origin is English, but manufacturing took also place in France, Argentina… (Meccano still exists, but not in its original form.) The building is now a school of architecture.




There are also some very nice old family houses, most of them refreshed lately. … and some what at least I consider as nice living places in general.
In one of the streets I met three kids, more or less disguised for some party (their mothers were just behind). They were so lucky to be taken on photo! One of them even gave me a kiss!









A new centre has been created, Place de Fêtes; as it seems, not anymore the nicest place for local pleasure and festivities? In my mind, this is another example of rather unfortunate 1960-70 architecture, built quickly in order to absorb a growing population, probably with good intentions and offering all kinds of modern facilities, but not well integrated into the general “landscape”. In between the older buildings in the area, you find a lot of these modern buildings, some better integrated than others.

16.4.08

Belleville (1)

Belleville is the name of an area in the eastern part of Paris. Catherine proposed that I should go there, so of course I did! It’s a fascinating area, very much “mixed”, not invaded by tourists. There are a number of different aspects to show and I will be back with at least two more “episodes”.

This part of Paris was annexed in 1860 as a number of other independent municipalities. The main street, rue de Belleville, serves as a dividing line between two arrondissements, the 19th and the 20th, and it climbs a hill, the second highest in Paris, almost as high as Montmartre. (You can get a fabulous view of Paris.)









You could traditionally here find a mixture of workshops and housing and it has usually rather been considered as a working class area. Referring to the rather recent film “La Vie en Rose” (“La Môme”), it may be interesting to know that according to the legend, Edit Piaf was born on the stairs in front of no. 72, rue de Belleville. There is even a tablet indicating this event.

Another of the “mixed” aspects is that it since long has been a place for immigrants – Armenians, Greeks, German Jews fleeing the Third Reich, Spaniards and more lately Africans. Especially the lower parts on and around rue de Belleville have now developed as the second biggest Paris “China Town”. Here, almost all shops, restaurants, hairdressers, travel agencies … are Chinese.
(Yesterday I had a very nice lunch with Richard and Chuckeroon. I forgot to ask if I may publish their photo. I make it very small.)