The parvis, the open space, in front of the Notre Dame has something else which everybody may not notice. There are traces and plates in the pavement indicating that the place was full of buildings and tiny streets and alleys until Haussmann transformed Paris during the 19th century. (This was the case all over Paris, including around the Louvre.)
One of the buildings in front of Notre Dame was the oldest hospital in Paris, Hôtel Dieu, created in 651, known under different names (Hôpital Saint-Christophe, Hôpital Notre Dame) until it seems to have got the name Hôtel Dieu (Domus Dei, the House or Hostel of God) during the 12th century.
On the old relief plan of Paris (1739), you can see that the hospital then covered a large area, on both sides of the river, connected by the Pont au Change bridge, with hospital buildings. (The present bridge with the same name dates from the 19th century, see also my previous post.) At their peak, the old hospital buildings housed some 9.000 patients, up to six for one bed!
Other Arles personalities include fashion designer Louis Féraud and the Gipsy Kings. Another fashion designer, Christian Lacroix, was also born in Arles and there is of course a small Lacroix shop to be found. Actes Sud, an important book publisher, and Harmonia Mundi, a famous label especially for classical music, have their homes in Arles.
I will be off for some two or three weeks, not in the direction of this lighthouse, which is not to be found on the French coastline but is there to attract visitors to a Paris fish market (69, rue Castagnary, Paris 15).
I will thus more or less leave the blogosphere for a while – should be back last week of August... although among the friends I expect to meet, there will certainly also be some bloggers.
Take care! See you (rather) soon!