What time is it? .... and more

One of the several walls that during centuries were built around Paris was called the Wall of the Farmers-General (see previous post about Paris walls). This one was built not for defence purposes, but for tax collecting, payment of tolls for goods entering Paris. The name “tax farmers” had its origins from the Romans, tax collectors for a specific area. (St. Mathew was one of them, in Capernaum).

This wall started to be built just before the Revolution (as from 1784) and was probably a major factor for the 1789 movements. The tax collection was stopped in 1791, but was resumed in 1798 and abandoned only in 1860, when also the villages outside the wall like Montmartre, Belleville, Batignolles... were incorporated.

There were 62 toll barriers or lodges and if the wall has disappeared and been replaced by large avenues and boulevards, a few of these lodges remain, now – fortunately - with different use; one at Parc Monceau (see previous post), one at Place de Stalingrad / La Vilette (see previous post) and two at Place de la Nation (previously “du Trône”) (see previous post).

My preceding post was about the Catacombs. One of the lodges, at Place Denfert-Rochereau, is where you enter the Catacombs.

On the opposite side of the street there is a “sister lodge”, today occupied by some Paris administrative offices. Under this building is where the French Resistance had their secret headquarters during the last phase leading to the Nazi capitulation of Paris in August 1944. The street between the two buildings has now got the name of Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, a manual worker and communist, active in the International Brigades in Spain 1937-38 and later commanding the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) in the Paris region (Ile-de-France). He directed the Paris strikes and uprising the fortnight before he together with General Leclerc could co-sign the surrender of General von Choltitz, August 25, 1944.

One curious thing can be seen outside this building: A clock with the inscription “VILLE de PARIS – Unification de l’Heure – Centre Horaire” (see top picture). This should thus be (has been) the Paris centre for the “coordination of the hour”; obviously not today in activity: The clock was working but indicated 5:45 (or 17:45) when the real hour was 12:56! I have tried to find some information about this coordination centre, but in vain. Well, today we have the atomic Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Did you know that because of the slowing globe rotation, leap seconds have to be added today approximately every 500 days and in a century probably every 250 days?


Virginia said...

Je suis d'abord!!! ( Oh I hope the Translator didn't let me down here!). Anyway, as always I'm learning more and more about Paris from you Peter. The only familiar site was Parc Monceau which we photographed last summer. How you find all this is beyond me. You are a busy man!

from cali said...

Wow, the things you teach us about Paris! I am so glad you found another clock to show us even if it doesn't keep accurate time.

Louis la Vache said...

Very intriguing post, Peter!

Olivier said...

encore une chose que je connaissais pas, a quand l'encyclopédie de Paris vu par un Suedois...merci pour l'histoire

hpy said...

WHat time is it? It's 8.38 AM and I'm already here.

claude said...

Tu es un formidable historien sur Paris Peter, mais n'as tu pas fait une erreur sur l'année de la capitulation des allemands, c'est Aout 44 il me semble, le jour de a libération de Paris.
Je t'ai répondu sur mon blog.
Bises !

Peter said...

Merci Claude! Bien sur! Immédiatement corrigé! :-)

Adam said...

Good research again - I had never noticed that clock before!

I live about 50 metres inside the wall, and although it no longer physically exists, it is interesting to see how the city differs on either side of where it stood. It has certainly left a lasting trace!

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

Do you have a day job?

I would guess it takes several hours, many bus transfers and lots of walking to come up with such diversity in your photography.

Cezar and Léia said...

Paris is a dream...I will never be tired to discover these charming details!
Very interesting post!

Ruth said...

I didn't know the globe's rotation is slowing. Nor did I know about the toll lodges. Thank you for such an instructive post (and blog, always).

Thérèse said...

Very very interesting facts and pictures Peter!

BLOGitse said...

Oh, you've done a lot of work for your posting again.
Paris, Paris...

How about bazaar: buildings and doors in Egyptian style? Come and have a look!
Have a great day!

V Rakesh said...

Your posts are very rich with information about Paris and I'm reasonably sure that a first time visitor will find this space very useful and insightful too!

Wonderful pictures and snippets, as ever!

Starman said...

I wonder which side of the globe we'll be on when it stops spinning?

Vagabonde said...

J’aime beaucoup les pendules. J’avais un vieil ami qui était un ancient colonel et qui aimait réparer les pendules, alors on en achetait dans les flea markets et garage sales. Il les réparaient très bien. Ainsi j’ai des pendules dans chaque pièce – dans le den j’en ai 8. Le probleme c’est qu’elles ne sonnaient pas au même moment, alors vers minuit cela faisait du bruit. Mon ami est mort et j’ai toujours les pendules mais je les ai arrêtées.

Carole said...

Bonjour Peter !
Et le tabouret ? il sert à qui ce tabouret devant cette horloge ?
En tout cas encore merci pour toutes ces leçons !
Bonne journée

Kate said...

The clock looks like it's a captive; imprisoned by time. Speaking of time, it's been some time since I have visited and I'm taking time today to look at what I've missed; always a pleasure to see your work, both photos and commentary!

Mo said...

Interesting as usual. You put so much work into your posts.

ParisBreakfasts said...

What is meant by "lodge"?
a sort of gate house/entrance?

Claudia said...

Great post!

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

I was happy to know more about the Villette, which is close to where I live. But I am also pleased to know more about the lodge at Place Denfert-Rochereau. If my son ever comes back to Paris, I will let him know about this. It's the kind of stuff he finds really interesting.

You are such a great repository of knowledge of the city! There is great information in this post. For example, I had *no idea* the rotation of the earth is actually slwoing (!!!). How about that? I can always learn something new visiting your site. :)

Thank you!

Peter said...

You spend a lot of time in Paris, but I spend a bit more! :-)

From Cali:
I will look for more clocks, working if possible! :-)

Louis la Vache:
Thanks, I appreciate! :-)

Peter said...

Il faudrait peut-être quitter Evry de temps en temps (et non seulement pour NYC)! :-)

8:39! :-)

Merci, stupide de ma part, corrigé! :-)

Peter said...

You are right; I live on the other side! :-)

No job; retired! Yes I walk a lot ... and I like that! :-)

Thanks and hugs! :-)

Peter said...

I also just discovered about the slowier rotation! :-)

Thanks, I appreciate! :-)

I will immeidately have a look! :-)

Peter said...

V Rakesh:
... and you are not a first time visitor! :-)

Good question! :-)

... et maintenant tu regardes l'heure sur ton PC ou ton téléphone! :-)

Peter said...

Je me suis aussi posé la question pour le tabouret... vide! :-)

You are like me; I have little time for making the blog tour at the moment, but when you come, you are more than welcome! :-)

I like it! :-)

Peter said...

Maybe lodge is not the right word? :-)

Thanks Claudia! :-)

I'm sure that between us and bloggers in general, we can learn a lot! :-)

Trotter said...

How did I miss this one? It's an amazing post, in particular with the detail of the right hour: 5:45 for 12:56... Great!! :))

Peter said...

You are forgiven! :-)

Nathalie said...

J'aime bien le tabouret sous l'horloge, comme s'il devait y avoir un gardien de l'heure !

Fascinante, l'histoire des secondes qu'on rajoute régulièrement pour rattraper le ralentissement de rotation de la terre ! Décidément tu nous apprends toujours quelque chose !!!

Peter said...

J'ai l'appris en faisant mon post! :-)