30.4.10

Hôpital Saint Louis

The Saint Louis Hospital (Hôpital Saint Louis) is more than 400 years old – the first stone was laid in 1607. Comparing a picture from the beginning of the 17th century with what it looks like at present, we can see that the central buildings still look more or less the same and the chapel is still there. There is a clear similarity with the Place des Vosges (see previous post), built at the same period.
The hospital was created to relieve the by the plague overcrowded hospital Hôtel Dieu (see previous post) and for a long time it was used only temporarily during severe epidemics and for this reason it was – those days – placed way away from the city centre. Since 1773 it has been in permanent use and is today one of the 22 public hospitals within the Paris borders. Some 2500 people work here.
Since new buildings were added 1984-89, the old ones are basically only administrative. It was the first hospital in the world to teach dermatology, still one of its specialties.
This is again a pre-programmed post. I should be back for normal posting next week.

I wish you a nice weekend!

28.4.10

PCF

PCF may stand for “Place Colonel Fabien”, and also for the “Parti Communiste Français”, the French Communist Party. It happens so that the party’s headquarters are situated at the “Place Colonel Fabien”.

Colonel Fabien was a member of the French Communist Party, a volunteer for the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War and a resistant during WW II. (He made one of the first resistant acts, killing a German naval officer in the Paris metro. He was himself killed at the end of the war in December 1944.) He gave the name to the Place in 1945.

The French Communist Party, founded in 1920, played an important role in the French political life the years before WW II and especially the years after, when they reached close to 30% of the parliament seats. In the latest elections they reached about 4% and in the presidential elections their representative reached a small 2%.

This post is rather meant to treat with the building which houses the party. The building is designed on a voluntary basis, by Oscar Niemeyer, the today 102 years old Brazilian architect, particularly famous for what he created at Brasilia and also for other remarkable buildings in Brazil, but also abroad, including a major participation, together with Le Corbusier and others, in the UN building in NYC.

In 1980, the party could move in. Some of Niemeyer’s original drawings can be seen on a wall.

In addition to the remarkable “coupole” (see also top picture), where all larger meetings are held, there are a number of meeting rooms etc. on the ground floors. There is also space for temporary exhibitions.

Luckily, when I arrived, there was also a group of architecture students from the Columbia University and I could join. You can see them listening to a speech in the “coupole” and drawing on the roof.

From the roof, you have a nice view of Paris. You may see how Niemeyer managed to make the concrete structure follow the horizontal line.

Another detail, which is worth noticing, is Niemeyer’s wish to make a reference to Picasso’s famous “palomas” – you may have a closer look on the Google Earth picture.

This is again a pre-programmed post. I'm off for a couple of days.

26.4.10

Parc Floral

In one corner of the “Bois de Vincennes” (see preceding post) is the Paris “Parc Floral”. It dates from 1969 and is used for flower shows, exhibitions… There is an open theatre, an “exotarium” (exotic fishes and reptiles), a lake…

It’s particularly a place for just relaxing, picnicking, walking around…
… and the place for some great playgrounds.
Sorry! Since some time I have been too busy to make the tour of blogs, to comment... Furthermore, I will be absent the coming week, but have pre-programmed a few posts, including this one.

23.4.10

Bois de Vincennes

The surface of Paris – if you neglect the suburbs – is quite limited, approximately following the red dotted line here. There are two exceptions to the near-to-circle form; one is the “Bois de Boulogne” in the west, the other is the “Bois de Vincennes” in the east. I have already made a number of posts on the “Bois de Boulogne” and a post on the “Château de Vincennes”. Here is something on the “Bois de Vincennes” park… or at least part of it – it’s large, actually three times larger than the NY Central Park and four times larger than the London Hyde Park.






































As the “Bois de Boulogne”, the "Bois de Vincennes" was originally a hunting area for the royalty, but has been a public park since 1860. Since the 1930’s, one corner of the park is occupied by a zoo, but it’s closed for renovation. A hippodrome occupies a large part and you will also find a “Parc Floral” on which I will revert in a later post.

More generally, there are four lakes, one of them much more important than the others, “Lac Daumesnil”. This is the place where you can just walk around, row a boat, relax, play the saxophone…
… do some sun bathing when the first really warm days are finally here.
Other pleasures may include “yachting” like these gentlemen, kite flying …
During a walk in the more forest like areas, I found this group learning something about apiculture.
I wish you a nice weekend!

21.4.10

Parc de la Villette

In the north east corner in Paris you will find a large park, Parc de la Villette. Between 1867 and 1974 this was the site for huge slaughterhouses and the national wholesale meat market, reallocated to the suburbs since. In 1987 the park was opened. On the huge area, in addition to different types of gardens and large lawns, a lot of other attractions can be found.
The “Grande Halle” was the major building and is still there, although today you don’t find hundreds of beef waiting for their execution, but a place open for different cultural activities, expositions… In front of it is the “Fontaine aux Lions” which previously served as watering-place for the cattle; a last drink.
There are few of other original buildings left. A funny detail is perhaps that an ancient clock has been replaced by a “Swatch” version.
The “Cité de la Musique” opened some ten years later with a concert hall, a music museum, exhibition halls, archives…
The National College of Music and Dance (“Conservatoire de Paris”), has its Paris site in one of the park corners.
“Zenith” is one of the biggest concert halls in Paris; some 6.300 seats. When it was built in 1983 it was supposed to be temporary (like the Eiffel Tower), but it still it’s still there and got a number of “sisters” in many French cities.
A major installation in the park is the “Cité de Sciences et de l’Industrie”, Europe’s biggest science museum with some five million visitors each year. One of these days I may make a post on what you can find inside.

The “Géode” is one of the world’s largest geodesic domes, with a “Omnimax” movie theatre.

In front of the “Géode” you can now and then see a barge pass. In fact, the park is crossed by some canals, still in use, leading to (or from) the Canal Saint Martin (see previous post) and the Bassin de la Villette (see previous post).
There are several other smaller theatres, exhibition halls around, but this post is already too long. Maybe just a shot from an ongoing Duane Hanson exhibition.
A number of red steel constructions (“folies”) serve as landmarks…
… bridges, stairs, gangways help you to get around...
… and, of course, it’s a real park with a lot of green space...

… sometimes with some surprising sculptures…
… and a lot playgrounds for kids.
Traditionally, in the neighbor streets, you used to find some of the best Paris meat restaurants. Not much left today.