Wallace fountains - again

On my previous blog, I made a few posts about the “Wallace Fountains”. They were originally, in 1872, created, donated, by a wealthy Englishman, Richard Wallace, who also donated for hospitals, ambulances….

Originally there seems to have been some 50 fountains (you can then read the year “1872” on them). More fountains were created later and nowadays you can count around 95 of the bigger model, the one we mostly recognize, but there are also a number of smaller, simplified, ones. When they were created most houses had of course no running drinking water and these fountains were definitely of great social value. Today, they still supply pure drinkable water (except during the coldest months). When you walk around Paris a warm day and if you have a little bottle or a cup, fill it up!

The fountains should normally be painted in green, to fit into the landscape; you find them mostly close to some green space. They suffer of course now and then from taggers, but there are at least four Wallace fountains in Paris, which have been repainted in a more official way, probably somehow for fun and possibly not forever. I spotted them.

The first one I show can be found on the ground of the Porte-de-Versailles exposition area.

A second red one can be found in one of the China Town districts, Avenue d’Ivry. (See previous post about  what the street looks like when the Chinese New Year is celebrated.)

Close to the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand (see previous post), you can find a third one, more or less pink.

The last, fourth one, yellow, is not far from there, just outside a large building which used to be an old flour-mill and store but now is occupied by the Paris University (Paris VII-Denis Diderot). It seems that the previous ones have escaped from tagging, but not this one (see also top picture).  


The "Grande Synagogue"

There are some 20-25 synagogues in Paris. This one is referred to as the “Grande Synagogue”. It dates from 1874 and was built on a place where previously stood a mansion for some time occupied by one of Napoleon’s brothers, Louis, married to Hortense, the daughter of Josephine de Beauharnais, parents to the future Napoleon III.

(Josephine had previously rented another mansion in the same street and this is where the then General Bonaparte went to see her, got married, bought the house and where they lived together for some four years 1796-1800 – with exceptions for long campaigns in Italy, Egypt… . When Bonaparte became First Consul, the couple moved to greater premises. When they lived here it was almost countryside. The building and the narrow entrance / garden disappeared in 1858, as part of the town-planning. The street got its name, rue de la Victoire, in 1797, when General Bonaparte returned from his Italian campaign.)

But, this post was supposed to be about the “Grande Synagogue”, the largest one in France; it can seat some 1800 people. It was built with financial support of the Rothschild family. It serves as a setting for all kinds of official ceremonies and it’s also the official seat of the Chief Rabbi of France and this is where he is formally introduced.

It was during Napoleon’s reign that the Judaism, together with Roman Catholicism and Lutheran and Calvinist Protestantism, became official religions of France, until 1905, when State and Churches were separated.

The building, which as most other major religious edifices in Paris is owned by the City, suffered of course, although not as much as its community, from events during WWII and was completely renovated as late as 1967.

As we can see, the decoration of the Synagogue is beautiful, but, different to many other religions, of course no images, symbols can be seen. As I have understood, what is important are the Torah, the prayer….  


A short visit to Sweden

I referred in a previous post to a visit in Sweden (Göteborg, Gothenburg) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my “studentexamen”.  The event took place. Some 20 classmates had met up for a nice meeting at our school , followed by a dinner. You can see some of the old gentlemen (no mixed classes those days) on the steps in front of the school, together with a slightly younger person, the head of the school.

I spent a few days visiting family and friends, with a little bit of travel through some central parts of Sweden (the dotted line on the map below), longing for better spring weather.


Passing the wall

We are at Montmartre. I have often passed by here, but never made a post about this sculpture. It represents somehow a combination of a Franch novelist, screen and theatre playwright, named Marcel Aymé (1902-67) and Mr. Dutilleul. Marcel Aymé lived just round the corner (Rue Norvins) and so did the fictive Mr. Dutilleul, the “heroe” of a novel by Marcel Aymé titled Le Passe-Muraille (The Walker-Through-Walls). Mr. Dutilleul discovered at the age of 42 that he “had the remarkable gift of being able to pass through walls with perfect ease”.

The sculpture was made by a – at least in France – famous actor, Jean Marais (1913-98), who had sculpting as more than a hobby. Jean Marais was a big star in France and was also known as the friend (in all respects) of Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), who portrayed Jean at many occasions.

What made me think it was time to post about this was the little extra thing that also seemed to pass the wall. I’m not sure how long it will stay there.


Sunday dancing

I already posted about Rue Mouffetard (see here), but I needed some US blogger friends to finally bring me there for the weekly dancing that takes place – on Sundays – at the lower end of the street, just in front of the Saint-Médard Church. 

The special reason to go there was to accompany Genie (“Paris and Beyond”), who recently – again – visited Paris, this time with her husband, and who wanted to bring a photo to the gentleman who danced with her daughter Holly, when Genie and Holly visited Paris in January. She found the gentleman in question and of course was invited to a dance tour in her turn. The photo of Holly in her wonderful red coat is “stolen” from Genie’s post about the January dancing.

Another blogger friend and frequent visitor to Paris, Virginia (“Paris through my Lens”), also made a post about the January dancing.  It was time I also did a post.

There is a nice mixture of people and one of the leading dancers was the Indian gentleman we can see on the top picture.


50 years ago

I'm off to Sweden again for about a week. Going to meet my school class friends to celebrate the 50 years since our "studentexamen" (baccalauréat in French). This was the name of the university entrance verbal and oral examination in Sweden from the 17th century until 1968. It was the final exam from the "gymnasium". Today only the name remains for the completion of the secondary school, based exclusively on grades from cumulative courses.

The photo was taken April 16, 1962. (I hope you don't recognize me.) 

There will be some preprogrammed posts during my absence. 


New sculptures in the Tuileries Gardens

Some three years ago, I made two posts, showing more or less all statues and sculptures you can find in the Tuileries Gardens. (I also made a post, almost five years ago, about the disappeared Tuileries Castle.)

On one of the sunny spring days we have recently enjoyed (these photos were taken March 26), I made a tour to the crowded Gardens, sat down for a while with a book, (fell asleep for a short moment)) … , but I discovered also at least two new sculptures, which did not appear in my previous posts. Some are exposed only for a couple of years and then go back to their “home”, in general a museum.

Here is one by Willem de Kooning (1904-97), called “Standing Figure”...

… and here is another one by Yayoi Kusama (1929- ), called “Flowers that Bloom at Night”.

I also discovered a biking lady with what looks like expensive Christian Louboutin shoes. 
In one of my recent posts about the Invalides, I showed a painting of Louis XIV wearing red heels. Some nice comments from fellow bloggers draw my attention to the fact that the right to wear red heels was restricted to nobility, a privilege that was lost with the Revolution. The fashion is said to have started when the (fashion-leading) brother of Louis XIV one night had been visiting some taverns around the Paris slaughter-house, came home too late to change properly before having to attend to the King's council ... and was observed having red heels... 
A very knowledgeable lady, living in Paraguay, Maria, also added that "When Thomas Jefferson came back from France his friends and fellow signers of the American Independence could not believe their eyes when they saw him for the first time. The still young and very handsome former Ambassador wore make up, was richly dressed in the latest style and his black patent leather shoes had RED heels!!! John Adams, always outspoken asked him how he dared dress like that in his own country of all places. Such spectacle was never seen before in that young Republic...On the other hand because they loved him they were relieved to see the former inconsolable widower looking like such a happy dandy...”


A concert

Last week I had the pleasure to be invited to a concert onboard a transformed barge, berthed just in front of Notre Dame.

The invitation came from the two charming young ladies, Marie Polge (piano) and Chloé de Laubier (singing). They are both qualified highly educated professionals, but when they are music performers they are “only” highly qualified "amateurs". They gave this concert – and a second one two days later – just for the pleasure of their friends.

Everything was well prepared on the little barge, including the printed program.

We could listen to a number of romantic pieces related to “dreams”, by composers like Fauré, Debussy, Gounod, Satie, Offenbach… and Marie excelled with some piano solos by Liszt, Chopin, Poulenc, Schumann.. . Everything was nicely presented with some talks around what was going to be played and with a lot of smiles.

At the end, there were of course “bravos” … and chatting around something to eat and drink.

A perfect evening! Great thanks to Marie and Chloé!!

(The quality of my photos is not up to the standard of the evening, but I was rather concentrating on listening.)



The Paris metro line 14, the most recent one, opened as late as 1998 and the stations are of a very different design compared to the more traditional ones, considering that most of them date from 1900 and a few years after that. 

In one of the line 14 stations,“Madeleine”, there is a wall decoration offered by the Moscow Metro in 2008. It tells the story of “Ryaba, the hen” and a golden egg.

As an exchange, the Paris Metro offered a copy of its specific Guimard (see previous posts here and here) designed metro entrances to Moscow. (I stole this picture from here.)

The Moscow metro is more recent than the Paris one, the oldest lines date from 1935. Some stations are fabulously decorated. I took a number of photos from some of the Moscow stations during my visit there last September…

… as well as of the Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which somehow is represented in the Moscow wall decoration.