Restos du Coeur

This is an extra post.

On the initiative of Bergson, followed by Delphinium, I will also participate in this chain of solidarity.

This is to help the “Restos du Coeur” (“Restaurants of the Heart”) - founded by the comedian Coluche in 1985 - of which the main activity is to distribute food packages and hot meals, a place to sleep... to the needy (some 800.000 people assisted each year). Sponsored by Carrefour and Danone, and by writing a few words like this, 10 meals will be offered. (You must send a link to: hub@lanetscouade.com).

By suggesting other bloggers to do the same thing, 10 multiplied by... additional meals will be offered. I will thus ask all of you who so feel to continue the chain. I suggest also that you all visit this page and this page (in French).

Like Delphinium who asked me to transmit this message, I would like to make a small addendum and I quote her partly:
It is true that the two names quoted here, Carrefour and Danone, may not be considered as the most charitable companies in the world and that this may be a way for them to get cheap publicity. Rather than going into a polemic about this, I chose to do what I was asked to, which hopefully will make some few happy...awaiting that there will be no need for this kind of action (when? ever?).

A walk through part of the Latin Quarter

Today we will make a walk in the Latin Quarter, along some streets which are relatively less visited, a little area between the beginning of the Boulevard Saint-Germain and the Seine quays – Quai de la Tournelle and Quai de Montebello.

Walking along the quays you may concentrate on Notre Dame and the book stands, but turning your head you could also look at what’s on the other side of the street. You will find some attractive old buildings, a small square... and a number of narrow 13th century streets with a view in the direction of the Pantheon.
Looking on some old facades, you can see the traces of some previous commercial activities.
Let’s start with Rue des Bernardins which got this name as it was leading to the Collège des Bernardins (see previous post) and its gardens. What today remains as interesting is perhaps particularly a covered gallery, part of a 16th century mansion house.
Rue de Bièvre was originally following one of the embouchures of a small river, Bièvre. The river still exists, but is totally underground when passing Paris. There are some efforts ongoing to make it partly visible again. On the plan below you can see what the landscape looked like before it was inhabited. We can also see how the Seine was split in two arms; the smaller arm became marshland – Le Marais. Today the street is perhaps especially known for having been where François Mitterrand had his private home, where he received all the local and world political leaders. His widow still lives there.

Rue Maître Albert has got its name from a famous 13th century philosopher and theologian. At number 1 you have a restaurant, L’Atelier de Maître Albert, one of the places directed by the renowned chef, Guy Savoy.
The street leads (in an L form) to Place Maubert, which probably has got its name through a transformation of Maître Albert; this is where he used to gather his pupils. The lectures those days, in the very beginning of the universities (what in Paris became the Sorbonne), was to high extent held in open air. In the 16th century this was a place for executions and since about the same period it has been an important open market place – no market the day I passed.
I wish you a nice weekend!


A little bit more about Paris history

Sorry, no large photo today - just some Paris history.

Paris, then called Lutetia (Lutetia Parisorium, Lutèce) was Roman during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries.This is more or less what it is supposed to have looked like. The white-framed picture is “stolen” from an interesting site, “Paris, a Roman city”. I just added something in red.

I already made posts about the trace of a Roman aqueduct, the Roman amphitheatre and the Roman baths. There are some other traces, including a theatre, which today are hidden under a school building, Boulevard Saint Michel.

A blogger friend, “PARIS-BISE-ART”, made a post about a big stone, which seems to be what is left of the Roman “highway”, the “Cardo Maximus” (the red dotted line on the plan above) leading from the south, through Lutetia (present streets Rue Saint-Jacques, Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Jacques and Rue de la Tombe-Issoire, continuing northwards on the other Seine bank, split into Rue Saint-Martin and Rue Saint-Denis). You can find the stone just in front of the small church (possibly the oldest remaining in Paris), Saint-Julien-du-Pauvre, close to Rue Saint-Jacques. (More about this church in a previous post.)

Another discovery by “PARIS-BISE-ART” is some kind of indirect souvenir of the Philippe-Auguste wall - on which I have posted a number of times, see the most recent one. A very narrow building, at least the front of it, on Boulevard Saint-Germain, fills the empty space where the wall passed. Once more it’s astonishing to see how Google Earth helps you to see that a lot of walls of existing buildings still follow the trace of the wall.


Pigeons, seagulls...

I have nothing against pigeons. There are supposed to be some 80.000 living in Paris. Until some 100 years ago you found them only in specific dove-cots, and they were basically used as carrier pigeons, but today they have a completely free life and are clearly increasing in number. You are not supposed to feed them, but some people do ... and this leads to some local very high concentration, in this case just in front of Notre Dame. Of course, during winter, they must be struggling for food. (The Paris Township offers some dove-cuts where they can live comfortably, but they are then also offered food which is supposed to make them sterile.)

I haven’t found any indications of how many seagulls we can find in Paris, but here also the number is clearly increasing. To a large extent it’s however a seasonal issue; they are mostly here during the winter months, leaving the coastlines, following the Seine. Many have obviously travelled from far. They seemed not to be interested in the pigeon food, sitting in the background, calmly watching the tumult.


Saint Nicolas du Chardonnet

Immediate neighbour to “La Maison de la Mutualité” (see previous post) is a church called Saint Nicolas du Chardonnet. Preceded by other buildings, the present church was built between 1656 and 1763, more or less on a design by Charles Le Brun, the official Versailles painter. The front of the church is more recent, the square tower is older. To give space to the Boulevard Saint Germain, part of the backside was transformed by Baltard, the creator of the regretted “Les Halles” (see previous post).

The church is known to be the Parisian site for the traditionalist tendency of the Catholic Church, wishing a return to the pre-Vatican II practices, meaning e.g. mass in Latin and the non-separation of State and Church (separated in France since 1905). The church was in 1977 illegally occupied by members of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). The occupation by the traditionalists, or integrists, has however been tolerated, although the priests involved were excommunicated. The present obviously more conservative pope has partly lifted these excommunications (Bishop Richard Willamson and others). The conservatism has by some, including by Monseigneur Lefebvre, the founder of SSPX, also been expressed politically with defence of Pinochet, Franco, Salazar, Pétain, Le Pen... and the condemnation of the French Revolution...

I wish you a nice weekend!


Shopping for perfumes (part two)

This the second of some posts on Paris perfume boutiques. As I mentioned in my first “perfume post”, this is done in collaboration with “Signature Scent” in London, who writes and I illustrate. Here are the links to her blog and to her second Paris post, basically the same as this one. As from here, the text is by “Signature Scent”.

I’m delighted that Peter Olson from "Peter’s Paris" is guest-posting for "Signature Scent" again today. This is Peter’s second instalment in our guide to perfume-shopping in Paris. What’s more, Peter has taken some enlightening pictures from inside the inner sanctum of Guerlain’s flagship store* at 68 Champs Elysées.

The celebrated Champs Elysées is a natural home to what was a family owned business for five generations from 1828. Only in 1994 did Guerlain become a subsidiary of the luxury group LVMH**.

The founder of the business was Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain who initially studied Chemistry in London. In many ways the uniform apothecary-style presentations stay true to the foundation of the business as a perfumeur vinaigrier (perfume and vinegar maker).

Stylised window displays, ornate bottles and unique packaging all ensure that Guerlain and its products remain a key part of the luxury goods market.
The sparseness of the interior of Geurlain’s flagship boutique is uber chic in a way that only the most prestigious labels manage to achieve.

This is how the official Guerlain website describes the interior design of 68 Champs Elysées, “The visual effects of gold and transparency join forces as lights glints through glass bead curtains.”

Guerlain remains one of the most influential perfume houses. Thanks so much to Peter Olson for capturing these images of the Guerlain store. Click here to see Part One of the guide to Shopping for Perfume in Paris.

Added by Peter: A little collage with some other pictures.
*/ Building from 1913. **/LVMH is the abbreviation for Moët Hennesy – Louis Vuitton. In addition to Guerlain, here are some other brands in the group: Kenzo, Fendi, Chaumet, de Beers, Perfumes Christian Dior and Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, TAG Heuer, Dom Pérignon, Berluti, Moët & Chandon, Samaritaine, Le Bon Marché, Veuve Cliquot, Hennesy, Château d’Yquem, Krug, Ruinart...


"La Mutualité"

All legal residents in France are insured for health care and pensions by a system called “La Sécurité Sociale” (Social Security), created in 1945. Costs are covered by employees and employers, but today (fortunately) also unemployed benefit from the health care advantages. Employers and labour unions jointly control the funds under state supervision. Some 75% of the health expenditures are covered by this system. For the difference between the 100 and the 75%, employees are covered to a quite high extent by complementary insurance systems via different mutual funds, once again with costs shared between employers and employees. (Private insurances are of course also possible.)

“Mutualism”, built on solidarity between its members with common funds, may be differentiated from as well capitalism as socialism – some kind of “compromise”. It started to appear already during the 18th century, but it’s of course to a large extent linked to the 19th century labour movements and the industrial revolution. Well structured since some 100 or 150 years, well before the “Sécurité Sociale”, there are today several hundred mutual organisations in France, acting in insurance, banking...

These different French non-profit mutual bodies and their central organisation have some kind of “home” in Paris, in this building from 1930, in a perfect “art deco” style: “La Maison de la Mutualité”.

Since its creation it has been the place for a lot of political and social meetings, but it has also a big concert hall and many artists like to perform here, maybe sometimes also for political reasons. Charlie Chaplin has registered some film music and a surprising mixture of artists has performed here, including Jacques Brel (his last concert), Herbert von Karajan, Peter Gabriel, Björk...

... and there is aslo a nicely "art deco" decorated restaurant.



Enough of snow and cold weather! These photos were taken during my walks around Paris this week; one from my window Thursday morning.

Two more post yoday, here below!

My daughter's contribution

My daughter, Stéphanie, forwarded a few photos to me, taken last weekend.

These first ones are of two swans flying along the Seine River. Swans around Paris are in general domestic and not supposed to fly around. Are these wild or just making a tour?
She also walked along Rue des Rosiers. I feel that these photos of a charming old tailor add a lot of value to the street ... and to my recent post about this street.

More about the Philippe Auguste wall

About a month ago I made a post about some traces of the Philippe Auguste wall found in an underground parking, Rue Mazarine, and also inside a showroom, Cours de Commerce St. André.

I repeat that the Philippe Aguste wall, built around 1200, was one of a number of walls surrounding the ever bigger Paris (see previous post). The best visibility of a large part of the wall is obviously along Rue des Jardins St. Paul (see previous post).

During a recent walk in the Marais area, I discovered, in a backyard, Rue des Rosiers (see previous post), another trace. Here the stones of the wall have been covered, but just behind is a part where the stones are still visible (see top photo). It’s planned that this space will be open to public one of these days, but for the moment you have to push a door. I repeat also that the Rue des Rosiers got its name from roses covering the wall when the street was opened soon after the wall construction.

On my way home, I made a new visit (see previous post) to the nearby “Crédit Municipal de Paris”, a bank and also the local major pawn-shop, 55 rue des Francs Bourgeois, where the wall also passed. Nothing is left here but there is a stone-paved “line” which indicates where it once stood (the three persons on the photo are just crossing it). A gate to the neighbour courtyard was exceptionally open and I could there find a more evident trace - one of the wall towers.
It serves as basement for a higher brick tower which obviously dates from 1885 (some reinforcement work and plates indicate this date). I was able to take some photos before I was kindly asked to leave the area.

This part of the Marais is one of the few areas of the old Paris which was not remodelled by Haussmann during the 19th century. I think it’s interesting to see how thanks to “Google Earth”, you can rather well see how the buildings constructed during the following centuries have somehow followed the trace of the wall. It’s obvious that to a large extent the old wall is today incorporated in the later constructed buildings. I will look for further traces.
I wish you a nice weekend! .... and please note that there are two extra posts here above!


Shopping for perfumes (part one)

This post is perhaps a bit different one from my usual ones.

I was contacted by “Signature Scent” in London who started a blog by the end of last year, basically treating about perfumes and other nicely scenting products. She kindly asked me to photograph some of the perfume boutiques in Paris and she would write the text. This is a first episode with some specalised boutiques found in the Marais district. Here is the link to her nice smelling blog and to the post she published last Saturday.

There are many more perfume boutiques in Paris, so now and then there will be another post like this one.

As from here, the text is by "Signature Scent".

The first of Peter’s photos is from the Marais district of Paris. L’Artisan Parfumeur is at 32 rue Bourg Tibourg.

L'Artisan Parfumeur has a great range of fragrances. They also sell an unusual fragrant wooden ball, which releases an amber fragrance for up to 8 months. When the amber fragrance disappears from the wooden ball, you can buy new crystals to refresh it.

L'Artisan Parfumeur is directly next door to Mariage Frères, which is well known for specialist teas.
The one and only The Different Company boutique is located at 10 rue Ferdinand Duval.

The Different Company was established in the year 2000 by Jean-Claude Ellena, who then moved to become perfumer at Hermes. Celine Ellena now runs The Different Company.
The Fragonard boutique du Marais is at 51 rue des Francs Bourgeois.

This is what the Fragonard website has to say about how the company was established:

“It was shortly before the First World War that Eugène Fuchs, an entrepreneur at heart who had already been seduced by the magic of perfume, decided to set up his own perfumery based on the novel concept of selling perfumery products directly to the tourists who were beginning to discover the French Rivera’s charms. Parfumerie Fragonard was opened in 1926. Eugène Fuchs chose to name it after the famous Grasse-born painter, Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), as a tribute to both the town of Grasse and to the refinement of 18th-century arts. Similarly, the choice of name expressed his desire to run his business in accordance with traditions.”
Finally, Peter managed to get a shot or two (one is on the top of this post) of the Guerlain boutique et cabine Francs Bourgois at 10 rue des Francs Bourgeois.
There are 11 Guerlain boutiques in Paris in addition to their main address which is at 68 avenue des Champs Elysées.