Carreau du Temple

“Carreau du Temple” was one of the covered market places in Paris, constructed in 1863, typical for those days in brick, steel and glass, then replacing a wooden structure. I wrote about the place in a post some five years ago and then took these pictures.

The market which specialised in clothes and textiles was originally three times bigger. It lost in importance and after some abandoned plans to have it replaced by a parking space, it was a few years ago decided to transform the place to a centre for basically cultural and sport activities. The transformation is now more or less completed, a first part opened to public in February, used for exhibitions, fashion shows and similar events. The other part, including an auditorium will open late April.

Last weekend I visited the art exhibition “Drawing Now”. A large number of international galleries and artists exposed. A lot to see…

My attention was especially drawn to “Ben”, easily recognised for a famous wall painting in Paris, rue de Belleville (see previous post) and by the Belgian cartoonist, Philippe Geluck.

Part of the exhibition was to be found on a lower level, newly created...  

… and a further part in another space, “Espace Commines”, previously an 19th century industrial locale.

I ran into Mme Anne Hidalgo, who the following day (yesterday) was elected the new mayor of Paris.

I will revert to more views from the area around the “Temple”, full of history (see previous posts), now becoming more and more attractive. 


Treves, Trier, Trèves, Augusta Treverorum...

The last day of my visit to Luxembourg blogger friends Léia and Cezar brought me to Treves (Trier, Trèves) in nearby Germany.

To go there, you will cross and again meet the Mosel River, known for its Riesling wines (which we of course tasted).

As you can read on one of the beautiful buildings in Treves - “Ante Roman Treviris Stetit Annis Mille Trecentis..." -, the city existed already (at least) 13 centuries before the Romans founded the “Augusta Treverorum” (referring to the Celtic tribe of Treveri) during the reign of Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, 16 BC. It may be the oldest city in Germany and it was for a while the largest European city north of the Alps, seat of the Gallic Prefecture. It became Frankish during the 5th century. The Vikings sacked the city during the 9th century. In 902 it passed in the hands of archbishops and the Archbishop of Treves was one of the seven Electors of the Holy Roman Empire. The French took over the place for long periods during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, but after Napoleon’s defeat 1814-15, the city was proclaimed part of the Kingdom of Prussia. (Karl Marx was born here in 1818.) After the unification of the different German states in 1871, Treves joined the German Empire, Germany.

There are a number of Roman buildings left. One of them, the “Porta Nigra”, built 168-200 AD, the remaining one of originally four Roman city gates, can be seen at one end of the Simeonstrasse, the main central street surrounded by a number of beautiful buildings, at the other end leading to the Hauptmarkt and the 15th century St.Gangolf Church. (Please note the red circle I added on one photo. This was originally the entrance to this year-1230 building, originally reached by some wooden stairs, which could be withdrawn in case of danger.)

The Cathedral of Treves is the oldest one in Germany with some parts from the end of the 10th century with a number romanesque, gothic and baroque additions. It’s linked to the gothic Liebfrauenkirche.

Behind the rococo Electoral Palace you may on my photo vaguely see an angle of the Aula Palatina (or the Basilica of Constantine), another Roman building, from the 4th century, today under restoration. Another Roman remaining building is the Roman Baths. There are other Roman monuments to be seen, including a 2nd century bridge, but during a visit of a few hours…

We saw a group of young dancers, recording what probably soon may be found on YouTube - a Treves version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”.  

A little addendum from yesterday evening.... The Chinese President is visiting Paris.


Luxembourg (Vianden)

Blogger friends Léia and Cezar kindly brought me to the northeast of Luxembourg - actually a drive of only some 50 km (30 miles) in this modestly sized country - to the little city and the castle of Vianden.
Built on the site of a Roman castellum, later a Carolingian refuge, the castle has 10th century origins and later got some gothic and renaissance transformations. The Counts of Vianden were ancestors to the House of Orange-Nassau, meaning linked to most of the European royal families, more especially to the Dutch and Luxembourgish ones. More or less abandoned, the castle was in 1820 sold to be dismantled, but it was soon bought back and partly saved, finally donated to the State in 1977 and since then completely restored.

The castle stands high over the charming little village, actually officially a city, and the river Our.

Close to a bridge you may be surprised to find the bust of Victor Hugo, by Rodin. The reason is that Victor Hugo made several tourist visits to the place and actually spent several months here in 1871, during his totally more than 20 years’ exile. He worked, wrote and even made several drawings and paintings, including the below one of the castle, then in ruins. You can visit the house where he lived, now a museum. 


Luxembourg (city)

It’s nice to have blogger friends! Last weekend I was invited by “Luna Snowshoe” and her “parents”, Léia and Cezar, to stay with them and visit Luxembourg. They really did the maximum to make the stay extremely nice, despite a bit cool and grey weather.

They of course took me around the City of Luxembourg, but we also made some excursions on which I will revert in later posts.

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, surrounded by Belgium, Germany and France, has some 525.000 inhabitants, whereof some 160.000 live in the capital – with suburbs. Three official languages are spoken: French, German and Luxembourgish. The country has a long history due to its central strategic location, starting with the Romans, and has been under Holy Roman Empire, Burgundian, Spanish, Austrian, French, Prussian domination until it really got its independence by the end of the 19th century. It was occupied by the Germans during the WWI and WWII.

Today it’s said to have the world’s second highest GDP per capita (after Quatar). The City of Luxembourg houses the Europoean Investment Bank and a number of European instiutions, offices, banks…

The original city installations were on the top of a cliff, surrounded by some extreme fortifications, which since to its largest extent have been destroyed, and by the narrow valleys of the rivers Alzette and Pétrusse. Today it’s a city on several levels with a large number of bridges and viaducts.

Here are first some views from the “Grund”, down in the valley…

… and some views from the upward walking (seeing the little 13th century “Quirinius Chapel) to the original city centre – the “Ville Haute” - where we can find some of the symbols of the city, the “Gëlle Fra” (Golden Lady) dedicated to the thousands of Luxembourgers who volunteered during WWI, and an inscription on a house reading “Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn” (We want to remain what we are), the national motto…

… and some views from the top, with the Ducal Palace, the Notre-Dame Cathedral…

…. and finally some views from the modern quarters, Kirchberg, with its offices, museums and a great concert hall, “Philharmonie”.


Another building with a nice view...

Neighbour to the “Hôtel de la Marine” on Place de la Concorde (on which I recently posted), you can find what today is referred to as “Hôtel de Talleyrand”, built at about the same period, around 1770, according to the plans by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, who was the architect of Place de la Concorde – then called Place Louis XV – and, for a short while, Place de la Révolution.

The building was first referred to as “Hôtel de Saint-Florentin”, occupied 1767-77 by the count Saint-Florentin, one of Louis XV’s leading ministers, later marquis, duke. The interior was taken care of by another architect, J-G-T Chalgrin, later especially known for the Arch of Triumph.

The building changed hands, passed the revolutionary years… 

… and was 1812-38 the home of C-M de Talleyrand-Périgord, normally just referred to as Talleyrand, a leading French statesman, who got the title of prince and managed to serve, mostly as foreign minister, as well during Louis XVI, the Revolution, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis-Philippe. His Paris home became a political and mundane centre. During different peace talks some of the visitors were the Russian Tsar Alexander I, the Prussian King Frederick William III, the Austrian Emperor Francis I, the Duke of Wellington…

1838, the building was bought by J-M de Rothschild and remained the property of the Rothschild family until 1950. During the WWII years, it was of course confiscated.

The US State Department rented the place 1948 and bought it two years later. The administration of the Marshall Plan worked here until 1952 under the Ambassador W.A. Harriman. Until 2008 this is where you found e.g. the cultural affairs and especially the consular services of the US Embassy, now installed in a parallel building in the opposite corner of Place de la Concorde as part of the large Embassy complex.

Here you can see the portraits of Saint-Florentin, Talleyrand, J-M de Rothschild and G.C.Marshall.

Important renovations until 2010, involving the World Monuments Fund and a number of donators, have transformed the building, still owned by the US State Department, now housing a law firm and especially the George C. Marshall Center reception rooms, which can be visited (by appointment).

Part of the interior is from the 18th century, a lot was transformed by Talleyrand and the Rothschild family during the 19th century, much has been brought back more or less to “how it was” by the recent renovation works.

Here is the OEEC (later OECD) / Marshall Plan major meeting room, today used for e.g. concerts… with a (today copy of) statue of Madame de Pompadour by J-P Pigalle. 


"Walk the line" - along the "Petite Ceinture"

When rail transport developed in the middle of the 19th century, the different railway station in Paris were serving different more or less independent lines, specialising in different directions, to the west, to the north, to the east, to the south. The government had military reasons to wish interconnections between these independent lines, but there was obviously also a need for passengers transferring through Paris e.g. from the west to the south to reach the other station without getting lost in the city traffic, still horse ridden. Between 1852 and 1854, most of the connections were created, by what was to be called the “Petite Ceinture” (little belt). Some additions took place until the end of the 19th century. As from 1900 and the following decades, the metro system was built and the “Petite Ceinture” lost its importance, to finally be more or less abandoned in the 1930’s. Some smaller parts were used later and today an express metro line (RER C) is using part of the western “Petite Ceinture”, but most of the tracks are abandoned. In red you can see the "Petite Ceinture", in green the different intercity lines and stations of which today remain Gare Saint Lazare, Gare du Nord, Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare d'Austerlitz and Gare de Montparnasse

Some of the numerous stations have been transformed to restaurants, shops… but many are also just abandoned and wait for demolition or better use. Here are some views of what the old railway line looks today, partly abandoned, partly covered… and to a small extent open for walkers. (Some other views to be seen in a previous post – here.)

A new part of the “belt”, in the south, was opened to public late last year. I took a walk – a dark and dull winter day. (Compare with the old steam train on the same trace some decades ago.)

There were some ideas to make use of the “Petite Ceinture” with its tracks and tunnels, when it was decided to build a tramway (partly opened in 2006, works still ongoing) more or less following the same trace, but for some reasons (connections to the metro system…) it was decided to build it in parallel, following the Boulevards des Marechaux (Marshals).

One of the stations, “Vaugirard-Ceinture” is still there, today partly used for private flats, partly for different social activities.

You can follow the trace of an old bifurcation, alongside some new apartment buildings, leading to a metro workshop (today connected differently, underground). 

Since I took these photos, the landscape has clearly changed. Once more, I would like to show some Paris spring sights - from yesterday.