28.4.11

Avenue de Breteuil

Behind, south of, the Invalides is a long park-like avenue, Avenue de Breteuil. Let’s start from the middle, at Place de Breteuil.

From here we can see the Invalides (see previous post), the Eiffel Tower (see previous posts), the Tour Montparnasse (see previous posts) … and a monument honouring four personalities.
Let’s start with a few words on this monument which stands where - before the area was completely transformed by the end of the 19th century - you could find the Abattoires (slaughter-house) de Grenelle. If we look who were these four personalities, we will also understand why the monument stands here.
Louis-Georges Mulot (1792-1872) drilled here in 1841 the first Paris 547 m (1800 ft) deep artesian well.. The water arrived on this spot, but was directed to the bigger Place de Breteuil outside the slaughter-house where a water sparkling tower was erected. It seems that no water is pouring here anymore. A number of artesian wells were created in Paris during the latter part of the 19th century, to a large extent drilled by L-G Mulot, but today only three remain: Square Lamartine, Place Paul-Verlaine and Square de la Madone (see previous post).
Valentin Haüy (1745-1822) founded the first school for the blind, to become the “Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles”, situated not far from here, where later Louis Braille (1809-52), the inventor of “braille”, was a pupil and later teacher.

Rosa Bonheur (1822-99) was a painter and sculptor, leading feminist, wearing trousers, living with female partners... The painting by her you see here is to be found at MMA in New York.
Eugène Bouchut (1818-91) was a medical doctor, especially linked to the nearby hospital “Necker -Enfants Malades” (sick children).

The water-sparkling tower disappeared and was in 1908 replaced by a monument (by Alexandre Falguière, 1831-1900) in honour of Louis Pasteur (1822-95), whom we have to thank for the pasteurization (safe milk, wine, beer… drinking), vaccine for rabies and anthrax and a lot more. The Institut Louis Pasteur is also quite close.
Before leaving Place de Breteuil, maybe a quick look backwards, in the direction of the metro which here is over ground. Zooming, you may read some old publicity.
Walking in the direction of the Invalides, the avenue is mostly surrounded by some fashionable, typical bourgeois buildings, with a few different ones, including the “Petites Soeurs des Pauvres” home for elderly people, the Paris home of Michelin, where the famous guide is created, and the back side of the Saint-François-Xavier Church (still to be posted about).
From the attitude of people on the middle lawn, you may guess the weather we have had lately.
At last we arrive to Place Vauban and reach the Invalides from what you may consider as the back side.

25.4.11

Easter days in "my" park

Today, just some Best - somewhat delayed - Easter wishes from “my” park. Still summer weather here!

From what I can guess, the little bird on the top photo can hardly have been out of the egg for long; still not "clean".

As usual, there were a lot of birds around.


Some had thus got their kids.
I don't know the name of this big-footed one.

The newborn little ones had to compete about the food with the – obviously already adult – fish.

The flowers were desperately awaiting the bees.


But, despite a special house to make it easier for them, I saw few bees and other insects around the flowers.

Some were busy otherwise.

22.4.11

Passages - Rue Royale



Rue Royale in its more or less present shape was with its buildings created between around 1760 and 1785. It has changed names with the history, from Rue Royale des Tuileries, to Rue de la Révolution, Rue Royale Saint Honoré, Rue de la Concorde. Since 1814 it’s just Rue Royale.
There are two passages, both of course with an opening also on the parallel street,  Rue Boissy d'Anglas.
One, Galerie Royale, is partly covered by some nice stained glass, partly in open air. It’s a place especially for nice pieces of porcelain, crystal… (see the large Chagall plate) and also some fashion houses.


















The other one, Village Royal (see top picture), is in open air. It was until recently called Cité Berryer and was for centuries a market place (Marché Aguesseau). It’s now a bit remodeled and has also become a place for fashionable shops and restaurants.













For the francophiles knowing Alphone Allais, it may be interesting to see this plate at the entrance of Village Royal, reading: "Si en 1900 Alphonse Allais a, par erreur, habité en face, 24 rue Royale, c'est ici que son esprit demeure".





18.4.11

Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève



As you may have understood from some previous posts, I participate in an international voluntary guiding program, “Greeters”, with its Paris branch “Parisien d’un Jour”. You can click on the logo in the sidebar to read more about it. One nice thing with this is also that sometimes we meet between colleagues and make some more close visits to certain places. This happened again last week, when we made a tour of the Bibliothèque (Library) Sainte Geneviève.
The building was constructed around 1850 on plans made well before and must have been considered quite revolutionary for its architecture, using iron in a prominent, visible way, and with some pre-tendencies towards “art nouveau”. The architect, Henri Labrouste, also a few years later  created the oval reading room at the National Library (see previous post). The Sainte Geneviève Library is on two levels, the first one being for storage and offices and the second being completely occupied by a very large reading room. It’s an academic (Sorbonne) but also public library with some two million volumes available.
This library took over the collections, partly from the 12th century, from what originally was the library of the nearby Sainte-Geneviève Abbey, for long considered as the third European library (after the Vatican and Bodleian Library of Oxford), although a large part of the collections were dispersed during the 16th century.
With the Revolution and the following decades, this area, which is one with a very long history and where the Roman Forum once was installed was radically transformed. The abbey, to a large part in ruins was closed, the abbey church was demolished and replaced by what today is Rue Clovis, part of the abbey buildings became a school, today Lycée Henri IV, where however the library survived until the collections could be moved to the present Library building, opened in 1851 (after a short period also in another college - de Montaigu, just in front of the present Library, also demolished). The major transformation was of course the construction during the latter part of the 18th century of what was supposed to be a new Sainte-Geneviève Church, but today is a Pantheon (see previous post). The beautiful Saint-Etienne-du-Mont Church survived (see previous post). If you are interested, I made some plans to illustrate the changes between a 1739 map and today, which you can find at the end of this post.
The façade of the Sainte-Geneviève Library is covered with hundreds of names and the entrance hall has a number of busts of authors and scientists, of which the works are to found in the Library. Walking up the stairs, you can find a replica of Raphael’s Vatican painting “The School of Athens”.

As we can see, the large reading room has hardly changed over the years. One difference is that the tables have changed direction, to allow more space for visitors, some 600. Most of the tables and many chairs are there from the very beginning.
We also got the opportunity to have a look on the office and storage space on the first floor, including the office of the Chief Librarian.






On a table of donators, I could read the Swedish / Norwegian government (countries unified 1814-1905), two Swedish universities (Uppsala and Lund), some Danish and Swedish editors… I suppose that that is the reason why you can find a very rich collection of Nordic literature in an annex (not visited this time).






We made our visit early in the morning. When we left just before 10am, we could see the line of visitors queuing up.








… and, as promised, some plans of Place de Panthéon and its immediate surroundings in 1739 and today. 


13.4.11

Gold

Some golden pictures from  yesterday.