Passage Choiseul

I have made a number of posts on what is referred to as “passages”, sometimes as “galleries” (walkways?). Most of them were created during the first half of the 19th century. They were very fashionable - enabling to do shopping protected from sun and rain and with clean shoes - until new large, paved, boulevards and the first department stores took over during the latter part of the same century. At its peak, there were some 150 of them.

There are a number of narrow streets referred to as “passages” in Paris, but if I refer only to those which are covered by glass roofs or similar, I believe that today there are some 20 remaining.  Some of them have been brought back to fashion, some are more or less abandoned. Below, I give a list with a link to the different posts I once wrote about them.

I had not yet been reporting about Passage Choiseul, opened in 1827. It was somehow brought back to fashion in the 1970’s when Kenzo opened a boutique here (not there anymore). It’s not the most fancy of the Paris “passages”, but there are some nice shops, art galleries and the entrance to the “Théatre  des Bouffes Parisiennes”.

There are four entrances, one actually goes under the name “Sainte Anne”, with a long corridor – with hardly any visible activities – leading to rue Sainte Anne.



You may have understood that I’m rather fascinated by street art. This post is about some paintings I found during a recent walk at the “Butte aux Cailles”. I found some more on my way to rue Mouffetard – and around. The complete wall (see also top picture) was painted last year, another official complete-wall-job of which we can find a lot in the 13th arrondissement (see e.g. a previous post). 

The artist is signing “Seth”, his real name is Julien Malland. You can read more about him here

There are certainly other works by ”Seth” to be found around e.g. at Belleville / Menilmontant, but I have to make another walk. In the meantime, here are some photos I already had from Parc de Belleville.

“Seth” seems to very active… writing, travelling, painting… Here are some other examples of his works, from India, Indonesia, Palestine, Senegal, Ukrania, Cambodia, Australia, Brazil, Peru… France, “stolen” from the net. 


The "Grande Mosquée de Paris"

The Grande Mosquée de Paris (the Great Mosque) was built in 1926. It was to be considered as a tribute by France to the maybe 100.000 Muslims from the then still existing French colonial empire who died when fighting on the allied side during WWI. 

It is also said that during WWII, the mosque served as a refuge for several hundred Jews, who were temporarily sheltered here and got fake Muslim birth certificates.

I had decided to at last visit, but was a bit early, so I took first a tour around the building and then waited, accompanied by some pigeons. You can visit the mosque all days (closed between noon and 2 pm) except Fridays.

You can walk around freely and easily, as well in the beautiful garden as in the different rooms…

… of course with some exceptions for non-muslims …

But, everybody is welcome for a meal or a tea in the very nice restaurant.  



Where do we find this beautiful ceiling? Maybe a bit surprising, but it’s In a Starbucks Café, Boulevard des Capucines.

Fortunately part of the interior decoration has been saved. What’s the origin? Obviously it was part of the decoration in what used to be a branch of the famous Liberty on Regent Street in London and which could be found here during the first decades of last century. 

I have nothing against Starbucks and bravo for this nice looking café, but I have a feeling that there may a bit too many of them now in Paris… more than fifty including one on (or very close to) Place de Tertre on Montmartre.  


Auguste Perret

Auguste Perret (1874-1954) was an architect, especially known for reinforced concrete constructions. He may also be particularly known for the reconstruction of Le Havre, heavily bombed during WWII, much discussed, criticized, but finally, in 2005, declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, "being a 20th century outstanding example of renewed city architecture", and today appreciated – by many, if not by all.

Perret was hoping to be responsible for the rebuilding of the new “Palais Chaillot”, overlooking the Eiffel Tower, but got as a consolation the responsibility to build its immediate neighbour which stood ready in a first phase in 1939, originally a museum for public works and buildings, but today the home of the French Economic, Social and Environment Council and the International Chamber of Commerce (CCI). It’s referred to as the “Palais d’Iéna”, situated at Place d’Iéna, behind the statue of Washington. This is also where at present you can visit an exhibition of Auguste Perret’s works. This makes it possible to see this building also from the inside, including the large meeting room.

You can see a number drawings, models…  and also read some correspondence, e.g. the one he had with one of his former employees, Le Corbusier, clearly influenced by Perret.

It may be difficult to give a clear classification of Perret’s style, going from late “art nouveau” influence, via “art déco” “to “art moderne” and stretching over some 50 years. The real permanent sign seems to be the use of concrete as a basic element.

In Paris there are, in addition to the above-mentioned “Palais d’Iéna”, a number of other buildings by him to be seen. The first one which drew attention to his name – in 1904 - was this building, rue Franklin (on which I already wrote a long time ago). Here you can still see a lot of ceramic decorative elements on the facade - still some “art nouveau” influence. (Recently, I even managed to get a view of the entrance, inside).

The “Théatre des Champs Elysées”, avenue Montaigne, stood ready in 1913 and seems to be clearly “art déco”. It was certainly considered as very much avant-garde. This was also emphasized by the first years of activity of this theatre, mostly used for music and ballets, with works by Debussy, Fauré, Saint-Saëns, Berlioz… soon followed by Diaghilev’s “Ballets Russes” with Vaslav Nijinksy… Today, it’s the home of some leading philharmonic orchestras and offers a great variety of concerts. The building also houses two smaller theatres. (I have been there… but never with my camera.)

Perret also designed furniture and even pianos. A Pleyel piano in his design is to be seen at the exhibition. (Pleyel, one of the greatest ever piano producers, just closed their doors.)  

This leads us to another “art déco” creation by Perret, the “Salle Cortot”, rue Cardinet, named after one of its professors and renowned piano performer, Alfred Cortot.  This is a much more modest concert hall from 1929, seating some 400. It’s linked to the “Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris”, which has had and still has some of the world leading musicians as professors and students. With a very modest outside, it impresses especially by the ingenious interior design in a very limited space and it’s known for its remarkable acoustics. Among other performances, it offers every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 12.30 free concerts, when professors or students perform.

The last Paris building I wish to show is the “Mobilier National” from 1937. This is the seat of the organisation which takes care of and stores furniture, paintings, carpets, tapestries… which are used to decorate all French official buildings. The building is situated just behind the Gobelin Manufactory and Museum.

Here are some illustrations of Perret’s works elsewhere than in Paris – the Le Havre centre, some churches… 



Finally the leaves are (almost) all gone, but...

I made a number of posts by the end of last year about leaves that remained longer than usual on the trees. Now, the leaves are on the ground (or have been cleaned off the streets), including the ones on the big trees which were planted in “my” park, Square des Batignolles, in the middle of the 19th century.

But… if you look closer, you will find that a few leaves have resisted and also that there are some nice signs of life around the park.

Unfortunately, when walking around, I found that the little greenhouse (with just one tree inside), had – a second time in the last two years - been the victim of vandalism. Under the greenhouse are buried, in a mass grave, a number of “communards” who were shot here by a firing squad in 1871.