11.4.11

Ruins










Adam, with the blog “Invisible Paris” (and some other blogs), had joined a global event called “Obscura Day”, proposing to see some odd, obscure, places around the world on the very same day, April 9. Adam invited us to visit a forgotten part of the Bois de Vincennes (see previous posts), one of the Paris "lungs" - together with the Bois de Boulogne. The place we visited is referred to as the “Jardin Tropical de Paris” (Paris Tropical Garden), originally created around 1900. France had then still a great number of colonies in Africa, the Far East…, and, with the aim to develop colonial production, different agronomic experiences were actively performed here in the beginning of the 20th century. Such activities have disappeared or moved to other places and the Garden has more or less since decades been forgotten, abandoned. We were some 30 people who joined a extremely well prepared Adam.
A very special event took place here during some summer months in 1907; a Colonial Exhibition, very popular and with some two million visitors. A number of pavilions, more or less temporary, were built in a style which should remind about the different colonies. Some of them are still there, but more or less as ruins, a few have burnt down... Some, pieces of, statues are lying around. The tropical plants have disappeared and the natural vegetation has taken (more than) over.































To attract visitors in 1907, some animals were shown, like camels and also elephants (gliding into water on a toboggan)…  and it was also what you may describe as a “human zoo”. Hundreds of natives from the colonies were “exhibited”, living in huts, supposed to live as when they were at home, and this was probably then what most attracted the public. Times have changed … at least to some extent. Here are some illustrations I found on the net including comparisons with today’s entrance and the burnt down Congo pavilion.















Later, during and just after WWI, some of the buildings were used as hospitals for wounded colonial soldiers and several war memorials were erected. At some of them annual ceremonies still take place and a few have been partly restored.














In 1937 another Colonial Exhibition took place in the Bois de Vincennes, but not here and without a “human zoo”. Some very imposing – again temporary - buildings included a mosque and a copy of the Angkor Temple; part of the entrance to the temple garden was obviously later transferred to this part of the park. 

Although we are here somehow outside Paris we should remember that the Bois de Vincennes is part of the 12th Paris arrondissement (like the Bois de Boulogne of the 16th arrondissement) and the City of Paris seems now to have started some very limited restoration work.

Here you can see where to find the Garden and a plan of the 1907 exhibition. The best way to go here is to use the RER metro, destination Nogent-sur-Marne; you have then some two minutes walk to the entrance. When there is no visiting group as ours, you can expect to be rather alone.
 
As you may imagine from the above photos, we have since a couple of days, full summer in Paris with blue sky and some 22-23°C (73-74°F). This can also be seen in the parks close to where I live.


23 comments:

Studio at the Farm said...

Peter, I was almost drooling - pardon me - over the images you posted this time. Do I have your permission to sketch and perhaps paint some of them, please? And the information and places you find constantly amaze me!!! Thank you so much, and keep on doing what you are doing so well!

Thérèse said...

I wonder: if I had been with you I am not sure I would have had such an insight as when I visited all the bloggers posts regarding this such interesting Jardin d'Agronomie Tropicale. I even discovered the birds songs of that day! Great pictures Peter! Thanks for posting.

Owen said...

Hi Peter, wonderful visit there ! Brought back some memories, I went there shortly after the storm of Xmas '99 which knocked down many trees in the Bois de Vincennes, many snapped off 3 or 4 meters up the trunk, like toothpicks. I remember some of these sculptures... thanks for the virtual tour...

V Rakesh said...

Great pictures, as always!
Though in ruin, some of those structures bear rich character - the likes of which perhaps will not be seen in the present.

Vagabonde said...

That is a very interesting post Peter and interesting in a personal way. I have some old pictures that I brought back from France. One of them is of my mother on a camel and it just says “Exposition Coloniale” and by the look of it I thought it must have been taken in the late 30s but I had no idea where it was. I’ll have a further post on my mother and I’ll include the picture. Thanks.

Olivier said...

j'aime bien ces endroits abandonnés, cela a du être une belle découverte

ALAIN said...

Des éléphants glissant sur un toboggan et tombant dans la piscine, cela devait valoir le coup d'oeil. C'est vrai qu'il y a beaucoup de batiments abandonnés dans le bois de Vincennes.

SusuPetal said...

I love ruins. I must tell my blogger friend Elegia about this post. She explores abandoned houses.

joanny said...

Peter:

This is a very romantic and poetic place, even in ruins, there are rich details and stories half hidden waiting to be expressed, either by camera or by the artist hand. a very impressive place.

Merci once again, for your patience in details and keen camera lens in which others may enjoy.

Cezar and Léia said...

There is always some story behind...full of love, or mystery...passion...emotion!
Wonderful post!
Léia

Cergie said...

Ah ! Dame !

Merci Peter. Je crois que je le reconnaîtrai lorsque je le verrai, dans cet homme avec un sac de couche sous un bras ou un rouleau de PQ au dessus du caddy plein de bouteilles d’eau. Ou dans cet autre allant d'arbre en arbre, de ruine en ruine dans le bois de Vincennes.

hpy said...

Dommage pour l'abandon.

Adam said...

Thanks for coming Peter. Your post is a perfect and very complete way to summarise the visit!

Starman said...

Were there any current 'residents' in the buildings?

ParisBreakfasts said...

Last photo on the right looks a lot like 'Dejeuner sur l'Herbe'

Are they sunbathing in the buff?

Virginia said...

Peter,
You never fail us. Your photos and stories make me long to return to Paris for another look.
Merci,
V

claude said...

C'est bien dommage que cet endroit soit abandonné. Ce pourrait un merveilleux endroit Pour se promener et se dépayser un peu.

arabesque said...

i think i'd surely get lost if I go there unaccompanied. ^0^
tnx for the tour, always interesting to find so many must see and unheard of sights in and out of Paris.

design elements said...

beautiful pictures!

Ruth said...

What a great event to find unusual places in the world and highlight them on the same day. I haven't been in the Vincennes. I am a bit disturbed about the "human zoo" I confess, and I'm sure must be too. We are a bit more enlightened in a century, I suppose.

Have a beautiful day, Peter!

Nathalie said...

Peter pour moi ce billet est l'un des plus passionnants que tu aies jamais publié. On peut faire confiance à Adam pour dénicher des lieux hors du commun mais toute cette histoire d'éléphants glissant sur des toboggans, d'expériences agricoles et de lieux aujourd'hui abandonnés est proprement extraordinaire. Merci d'avoir si bien rendu compte de la visite !

Trotter said...

Amazing Bois de Vincennes!

konferens göteborg said...

Great pictures, as always! I like your efforts this is really amazing..