29.10.10

Molière

Molière (his real name was Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) died at the age of 51 in 1673. He did not die on stage, but a performance of “Le Malade Imaginaire” (The Imaginary Invalid) had to be interrupted as Molière collapsed (tuberculosis, hemorrhage). He was brought home and died a few hours later.

Actors were not well seen by the Church those days and he was refused the last rites. The next problem was to get him buried. Finally, an exception was made and he got a grave in a part of a cemetery reserved for infants not yet baptized. Some 120 years later he was honoured with a transfer to the Museum of French Monuments (those days in the present Ecole des Beaux Arts, see previous post) and in 1817 he got a final grave at the then newly opened Père Lachaise cemetery (together with La Fontaine). This was also an act to promote this cemetery, considered to be too far away from the city centre.

The theatre where he made his last performance was called “Palais Royal”, being part of the palace, "Palais Royal". Most of Molière’s famous plays were performed here between 1662 and 1673. This theatre burnt down some hundred years later.

In the opposite corner of Palais Royal you can today find the national theatre, “Théatre Français” or “Comédie Française”, from 1799.

There is another theatre in yet another corner of the present palace and gardens, which again has the name “Théatre du Palais Royal”. Originally from 1790, rebuilt in 1830 and 1890, it’s a private – beautiful – theatre. (I have made a number of posts, here and here, on the palace and garden of Palais Royal.)
Coming back to Molière, his home, where he died, was quite close. The building is not there anymore but there is a plate on the wall of the present one… and more or less in front of it is a statue, erected in 1844, designed by Louis Visconti (who designed a number of buildings, fountains, statues in Paris … including the tomb of Napoléon I at the Invalides).
I wish you a nice weekend!

27.10.10

A "bouillon"

The name “bouillon” was given to a large number of restaurants during the second half of the 19th century. “Bouillon” actually refers to a soup and these restaurants originally proposed a soup and a dish of meat mainly to workers, especially to those working at the “Halles”, the then Paris major food market.

Only a few “bouillons” remain, maybe only two, which at least have the name. One is the “Bouillon Chartier”, close to the “Grands Boulevards”, which I mentioned in a previous post; the other one is the “Grand Bouillon Camille Chartier”, mostly referred to as the “Bouillon Racine” , rue Racine. I had a lunch there with friends last weekend and took some photos before most of the tables were occupied.

This restaurant dates from 1906 and has a very typical Art Nouveau decoration. It belonged to Camille Chartier until 1926, changed name, owners and menus during the years, and the decoration suffered. In 1996 it was brought back to something which is similar to what it once looked like. It has been classified as an historic building.

It’s obvious that the original idea to offer only a soup and a piece of meat has also changed.

25.10.10

Autumn colours

I spent the last couple of days walking around Paris with friends, meaning hardly any time to prepare my usual Monday post. Here are just some autumn impressions.  

You may have heard of some manifestations and strikes in France going on - more or less. One consequence is obviously that the glass scrap has not been collected for a couple of days. It may be interesting to see what kind of bottles normally would have gone in to the glass collector.








Something happened with my blog, while I was personally absent from blogging: My blog was mentioned as a “Blog of Note”. The result has been a tremendous boom of visitors and “followers”. I feel of course very much honoured … and amazed by the impact that such an “award” may have!!

22.10.10

Horses

Friends around for a couple of days… Sorry, no time for blogging or visiting your blogs; just one photo today.

The other day I saw for the first time some horse riding policemen verbalizing. Normally I would expect to see policemen on horses only during parades… or possibly riots.

I wish you a nice weekend!

20.10.10

Saint Séverin

There are some 230 religious buildings in Paris, including mosques and different “temples”. The Roman Catholic churches are of course dominating – there are some 135. Here is another one, Saint Séverin, one of the oldest still around, situated in the Latin Quarter. The name of the church comes from a hermit who lived here during the 6th century. After his death a basilica was built - another one destroyed by the Vikings. The church we find today was commenced during the 11th century, but the major parts date from the 15th century which explains the late gothic architecture. It has a bell, which is the oldest in Paris, from 1412. Inside, there are some like palm tree looking pillars. Some of the stained glass windows are origin, but many have been added later, including some during the last century.

On the outside, the gargoyles are numerous and remarkable. On one side of the church there is a small square surrounded by some gothic niches. This is not what remains of an old monastery, but it used to be a graveyard – not in use today. The niches contained graves of “notables”; in the middle there was a mass grave.

18.10.10

Cité Napoléon

When the industries started to get important during the 19th century, workers and their families suffered from bad housing. An important step was taken in the mid of the 19th century, when the “Société des Cités Ouvrières” (Society for Worker Cities) was created. This led to many projects outside Paris; industrial cities especially in the east and the north of France were growing. The first project to be realized in Paris – in 1851 - was to be called “Cité Napoléon”; Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (the nephew of Napoléon I) had been elected president in 1848, later to become emperor under the name Napoléon III in 1852.
The building is still there, rue Rochechouart, with its particular, especially interior, design. 194 one- or two-room flats with a small kitchen were built for some 500 inhabitants. The rent was modest, but it seems anyhow to around 1850 have corresponded to more or less 1/3 of an average worker’s income, close to what also seems to be the norm today.

Although bathing and laundry facilities, meeting-rooms, shops and a day-nursery were created, the project was never really successful, rejected by as well workers as moralists who warned for the risk of anarchy and “socialist contagion”, despite an inspector who checked the “good behaviour” of the occupants – the gate to the building was closed at 10 p.m.. A few decades later the building was rather occupied by the lower “bourgeoisie”. I don’t have the list of people who live here today.

15.10.10

Le Monde


As we know, Le Monde is a leading French newspaper. A few years ago, they moved from more central premises to modern facilities at Boulevard Blanqui. The facade is spectacular.

Following a start last year, the newspaper organized again last weekend a meeting called “Le Monde des livres”, “livres” meaning books. A number of authors were invited to talk and to be interviewed about their recent publications. There were also some sessions, where actors and actresses read extracts. I could not be present the whole weekend so of course I missed a few performances, including the ones of Umberto Eco and the newspaper’s cartoonist, Plantu.
I had the at least the chance to listen to actor Fabrice Lucchini and to philosopher – and former minister of education – Luc Ferry.
The organizers had invited some artists to expose works related to printed matters.

One of them was FKDL (Franck Duval), who executed four collages during the weekend. FKDL is one of the urban artists to whom I have now and then related in my different posts about Paris street art.
I visited FKDL’s studio recently and came home with a collage, which is now on one of my walls. Luc Ferry kindly made a kind dedication in his recent – and most interesting – book, “La revolution de l’amour”. (Photo taken by a friend.)
I wish you a nice weekend!

13.10.10

The grapes are gone...

During centuries there used to be a lot of vineyards in and around Paris. As we have seen from previous posts, there are still a few small ones around, e.g. here, here and here. The most well-known one is of course the Clos de Montmartre, on which I also already posted.

In October it’s time for harvesting and at Montmartre it involves some important festivities, including a procession where all kinds of associations and especially a number of confraternities, representing different French wine regions walk the way from the local – 18th arrondissement – Town Hall to the Montmartre vineyard, ascending the narrow streets of the northern slopes of the hill. The festivities last over a weekend. I followed the procession which took place last Saturday. When we reached the vineyard we could see that the grapes had been harvested the preceding days.

Each year some 2000 bottles are produced. It’s according to today’s taste not the best wine, but the bottles are rather sold for a good purpose; the money collected goes to social causes.

Each year a godfather (“parrain”) and godmother (“marreine”) are nominated. We can see the actor Gérard Jugnot and the actress Firmine Richard on the podium in front of the Town Hall, together with the local mayor, former minister, Daniel Vaillant.

Some 500.000 thousand visitors were expected on the hill during the weekend, enjoying the magnificent summer weather.





11.10.10

Sincere thanks!!

Many of you have sent very kind and personal messages referring to the loss of my mother. Sincere thanks!

I plan to be back to blogging in a day or two.