The Luxembourg Gardens (see previous posts) are somehow extended towards the south. There is a green park like stripe leading to the Paris Observatory (Observatoire) (see previous post). The green space is surrounded by streets and it all is rather referred to as Avenue de l’Observatoire, but the green space goes also under the names of the Marco Polo and the Robert Cavelier de la Salle Gardens.
I have several times referred to the French Prime Meridian (the “Rose Line”), preceding the Greenwich one, and in 1884, after some international negotiations, abandoned - with a promised compensation that the metric system should be the universal way of measuring. During our walk here we can follow this historic line.
Placed on the “line” are also a large number of statues. A major one - from 1874 – (ten years before the Paris Meridian was abandoned) represents the globe being turned by four personalities of different sexes and races. One statue represents Michel Ney, one of Napoleon’s Marshals, who we executed here in 1815.
The park and avenue is surrounded by a number of interesting buildings, one in a Moresque style, built in the 20’s, and which houses university activities under the name of the Institute for Art and Archaeology. Another one was previously a Colonial School or Institute, known under the name of “Colo”. It replaced a Cambodian school, which can somehow be recognised in its architecture. Today it’s occupied by some activities of ENA, the National School of Administration, where most of the leading French personalities have been students. There is also a Faculty of Pharmacy.
On the way, where the Avenue de l’Observatoire is crossed by the Boulevard Montparnasse, you will also find one of the more famous Paris restaurants, “La Closerie des Lilas”, which was a second home for Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as for Baudelaire, Verlaine, Apollinaire... Here you can also see a different type of metro (RER) station.
Among the nice buildings, during the 60’s someone decided and an architect (?) managed to introduce a building, a residence for university students with restaurants and sports facilities.
This weekend we got an opportunity to watch the Luxembourg Palace by night. There is annual event called “Nuit Blanche”, translated to White Night, but the expression means also in French a night without sleep ... and there were obviously 1,5 million people strolling around Paris the whole night. The “Nuit Blanche” offers the opportunity for contemporary artists to create something related to the light and the night. Walking around together with Karen from Kissimmee in Florida, who also has a Paris blog, we went into the Luxembourg Gardens to watch the world’s largest disco ball, spreading reflected lights.