Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

This is my 93rd post this year, a bit less than last year, but… (You can “see” them all on the illustration above.) This will be the last one this year (the coming days will be too busy for blogging), a good reason to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I had hoped for some nice snow photos when I was in Sweden a couple of days ago, but…  So, instead I went out for some Paris pictures with hopefully some season feeling.

I headed for the traditional photo of the Galeries Lafayette Christmas tree. Seeing the crowd in front of and inside the department stores it’s difficult to imagine that we are experiencing a crisis.

Some photos from some traditional places.

I ended up at the Louvre and went down under the Pyramid to listen to a free concert by the “Orchestre de Paris”, with the now 86 year old, still going very strong, Pierre Boulez as conductor. We were some 2500 people sitting on the floor listening to Arnold Schönberg and Bela Bartok. Ovations, bravos…!!

So, once more, enjoy Christmas and the couple of days until the end of 2011! See you in 2012!


Levallois Cemetery

This is slightly outside Paris, but very close. We are in the suburb of Levallois (or Levallois-Perret). As we know, Paris has a very limited surface and the immediate suburbs, like this one, are somehow integrated. Levallois was created during the 19th century. It got its name from who can be considered as its creator, Eugène Levallois, whose tomb can be found at the local cemetery.

Visiting the cemetery, you can find the tombs of some illustrious people, who for different reasons have found their last rest place here.
One is Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923). His tomb,  a family grave, has the particularity that it it’s not in line with the surrounding ones; it’s facing what makes us remember him best, the Eiffel Tower (see previous posts). Although he finished his life at his home in Paris, his workshop, where e.g. the different parts of the Tower were manufactured, was situated at Levallois; it has now disappeared. The number of parts for bridges, towers… that his company built must have been amazing. This included also the inner structure of the Statue of Liberty. (In a previous post I showed where the Statue was put together.)

Maurice Ravel (1875-132) is buried here, together with his parents and brother. He spent quite some time in Levallois, where his brother had his home. Let’s listen to and watch (the last part of) “Boléro” (choreography Maurice Béjart), which he wrote rather late in his life on the request of the dancer Ida Rubinstein. Ravel wrote a lot or remarkable pieces and considered “Boléro” to be more or less a joke, 15 minutes of repetition, but it brought him (rather his heirs) a fortune - for the moment some 50 million € (68 million US$).

Louise Michel (1830-1905) was a school teacher and medical worker, but is especially known as a leading anarchist, known as the “Red Virgin of Montmartre”, active during the Paris Commune. She was deported to New Caledonia. She came back nine years later, never gave up her revolutionary ideas, manifested in many ways, always surveyed by the Police. She wanted to share her grave with her mother.

Levallois played an important role during the beginning of the motor driven taxis. One important company created in 1905, still active under the name of “G7”, was “La Compagnie Française des Automobiles de Place », created by Napoleon’s grandson (from his relation with Marie Walewska), André Walewski. Their Renaults became famous in the beginning of WWI, when hundreds of taxis brought thousands of soldiers to the front. The Levallois Cemetery includes tombs and monuments dedicated to fallen taxi drivers.

There are also some 30 Commonwealth WWI graves. The reason why they are here is the Hertford British Hospital (now  l'Institut Hospitalier Franco-Britannique), situated at Levallois and originally created thanks to a donation by Richard Wallace, especially known for the “Wallace Fountains” (see previous posts).

(I'm still in Sweden. This post is pre-programmed. Normally I should be back in time to wish you Merry Christmas!)


Quai Branly Museum

Behind the glass wall you see above is a surprisingly quiet garden…

… surrounding the Quai Branly Museum (Musée du Quai Branly = « MQB ») which opened in 2006. It features indigenous art, cultures…  There are actually several buildings - libraries, offices, shops, a cafeteria…

Spectacular is also the “green wall”, part of the exterior of the office part of the museum.

When the dark falls, you have a wonderful surprise.

The architect is Jean Nouvel. Here are some of his finished, ongoing, planned projects. In Paris, the most well-known finished ones are the Cartier Foundation and the Arab World Institute.

I will try to make a post about the museum interior one day.
(This post is pre-programmed; I’m back in Sweden for a couple of days.)


Another little alley

Another little alley (Rue Odinot), this time in a quite fashionable area, surrounded by old private mansions, “hotels particuliers”, a ministry…
However some decades ago, the alley was a place with workshops of different kinds. Today, if you want to live there, you should calculate with a price of 15.000-20.000 € / m2 (or roughly 2.000-2.500 US$/sq.ft).

The gate is often open during the week as there is a school at the end of the alley.
Did I find the last fresh looking rose of the year?


Arch of Triumph - something more

It’s very usual to take photos of the Arch of Triumph, but mostly it’s the same side which is illustrated. The Arch has however two sides – if not four, which can be seen differently day or night.
I have already several times posted (see here and here) on the Arch of Triumph, but I thought that a closer look on its different decorations may be of some interest.   
It took quite some time for the Arch to be completed. Napoleon ordered it in 1806 and the works commenced, but his defeats in 1812 and later interrupted the works, which were resumed only in 1832. The inauguration took place in 1836. It has since been a central point for different commemorations and is still the place of departure for the 14th July parade, for the celebration of the WW victories – or for the peace they led to.
So… the sculptures:
The most famous one (front side right) is probably “The departure of 1792” (departing for fighting against Austria and Prussia), often referred to as “La Marseillaise”.  It was made by François Rude (on whom I have already posted).
(A tomb at the Montmartre Cemetery by Rude.)

The next one (front side left) is called “The Triumph of 1810”, by Jean-Pierre Cortot, where we can more or less recognize Napoleon. 1810 was certainly a triumphal year for Napoleon. It was when he got married to Marie-Louise of Austria, when the Penal Code was introduced and the French Empire was at its (short) maximum. Cortot has left other works still visible, including on the Place de la Concorde (see previous posts, here and here), Place des Vosges (see previous post)

(The statue on Place des Vosges. It replaced a previous one destroyed during the Revolution.)

The third and fourth ones, on the "back side", are both by the same artist, Antoine Etex...

... “Peace” (on the left side )...

... and “The Resistance” (on the right side). Etex’s works can be found on a number of tombs, but he’s also the one who made the Napoleon statue at the Invalides (see previous post).

(Napleon at the Invalides.)

We must not forget all the other decorations of the Arch...

... the bas-reliefs, illustrating different battles (and funerals),

... the cornices on the top,

... the names of all the battles (only the ones won I suppose),

... the names of all marshals, generals ...,

... and on the ground, some plates,
... and of course the tomb of the Unknown Soldier with its eternal flame.

Really nothing to do with the above, but you may know that at least three pilots have managed to fly through the arch, the first one in 1919 (the below video), the latest one in 1991.


Chapel of Saint Vincent de Paul

The Chapel of Saint Vincent de Paul (95 rue de Sèvres) is the church of the Vincentians, brothers and priests of the Congregation of the Mission. It dates from 1827. The Congregation moved here after having been driven out from their previous installations by the Revolution.

Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) is venerated as a saint by the Catholic and the Anglican Churches. His younger years included that he was taken captive by Turkish pirates and spent two years in Tunis in slavery, escaped, later worked as chaplain to Marguerite de Valois (La Reine Margot)… In 1625 he founded the Congregation of the Mission, better known as Vincentians or Lazarists (related to the “Saint Lazare Enclosure” in Paris where it all started, where Vincent lived the last 30 years of his life and where the congregation remained until, as said above, driven out by the Revolution). The Lazarists are today present in some 80 countries. Vincent was, and still is, a “popular” saint, renowned for compassion, humility and generosity. Later, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul was created, dedicated to tackling poverty and disadvantage by providing direct practical assistance to anyone in need, today present in some 130 countries and with about a million members, including non-Catholics. In Paris, many churches are related to Vincent’s activities, including the Church of Saint Vincent de Paul (see previous post), close to where the “Saint Lazare Enclosure” was situated.
A richly adorned silver shrine contains the body of Saint Vincent de Paul (created by J-P-C Odiot , previously “jeweler” of the Napoleon’s court). On the skeleton, face and hands have been redesigned and Vincent seems to rest quietly.

Vincent was also together with Sainte Louise de Marillac the co-founder of the Daughters of Charity. Their mother house is located very close (140 rue du Bac), (also known for their "Miraculous Medal") where you can find her remains as well as the heart of Vincent.
Louis Braille (1809-52), inventor of the Braille writing system (himself blind by accident since the age of three), was also an excellent organist. He was the organist of this church the last seven years of his life.