An ordinary street a dull day...

This will be post about a rather normal Paris street, Rue Boursault. First, however some words about the area, referred to as Batignolles (see previous posts here).

We are alongside the railway tracks from Gare Saint Lazare to the northwest, the first French passenger lines from 1837 (see previous posts here and here). Below, we can make a comparison of what this part of Paris looked like now (rather in 2012) and in 1860, the year when the Batignolles-Monceau area (and Montmartre, Auteuil, Passy, Belleville…) became part of Paris, the number of arrondissements increased from 12 to 20 and the tax wall (Mur des Fermiers Généraux) (see previous posts here) was demolished (see the green dotted line).

The rail tracks are today in open air. On the 1860 plan we can see that they are partly covered (slightly yellowed by me). In this then covered area there was in 1921 a serious accident – two trains collided, fire… - with a large number of casualties. It was decided to demolish the tunnel(s) and the buildings which were standing on their top. We can rather easily see what was once the limit between the covered and the open areas.

Coming back to the Rue Boursault…It was named after a man, J-F Boursault-Malherbe (1752-1842), who was actor, author, active during the Revolution (hardly survived), theatre owner, business man, ornithologist… (By the way, the main character in the Guy de Maupassant novel, Bel-Ami (published 1885), lived at Rue Boursault, overlooking the rail tracks.)

So, let’s make a walk from Square des Batignolles (see previous posts) to where the wall once stood, Boulevard des Batignolles.

Although a majority of buildings seem to be from the time just after 1860, a few a bit older, a few with added floors…

… I feel that this street is a typical example of a “normal” Paris street, where buildings from different periods are mixed, where city planners have had the ideas that the street in the future would be larger… meaning that the facades are often not rectilinear and probably never will be.

Some more remarkable buildings…

… like these ones. The architect of the one to the right, René Auguste Simonet, obviously died young, the same year as the building was finished in 1901, and I have not found any other traces of works by him. He was clearly an art nouveau adept, like Guimard (see previous posts here and here), Lavirotte (see  previous posts here and here)… We can see that the ceramist Alexandre Bigot contributed to decorate the façade, like he did for most of the famous art nouveau buildings and later also for some modern art architects like Auguste Perret (see previous post here), André Arfvidson (see previous post here)… .  What is surprising is the narrow space, no. 66, between the two buildings, leading to a house behind.

This one actually stands here since 1839, once a covered market, today occupied by (Sorbonne) university activities.

A fire brigade… this is where you are invited the night preceding July 14th.

Getting close to Boulevard des Batignolles we pass by what is marked as “Ecole Normale des Institutrices”, from 1872, today part of Sorbonne, one of the places where you learn to be a teacher.

… and we finally reach the boulevard, with a view of Sacré Coeur, the “Rome” metro station, the Condorcet school building.

Reverting to the rail tracks, the back side of buildings along Rue Boursault… First some photos from what used to be the covered part…

… and some from the area which always was open. We can see that efforts have been made to make the places as nice as ever possible, but the trains of course never stop. 


A further look on "Parc de Belleville"

May latest post talked about the artist “Seth” and how he has decorated the belvedere of the “Parc de Belleville”. I thought it was worth to have a new look on this park, actually the highest park in Paris, if not the highest point. Anyhow, it offers possibly the best and largest views of Paris - from a natural point. It’s a rather new park, inaugurated in 1988.

Some centuries ago this was a slope of a hill where you could find vineyards, taverns.... During the 19th century a gypsum quarry was opened. The area was later declared insalubrious, although some smaller buildings, giving a village feeling, remained until during the latter part of the 20th century when some modern buildings appeared and the park was created.  

It’ now a large and popular park with trees which have had the time to grow…

… with a lot of space for enjoying the green (and the sun)…

… with a lot of flowers (including some rests of the old vineyards)…

… including some perennial, more or less “wild”.

There is an important playground and other space for kids and older…

… and some space for adults to exercise…

… (and often to dance during weekends).

Around the park I also found some people having fun, playing, dancing, juggling…


"Seth" performing

I already posted (see here) about “Seth” – his real name is Julien Malland - and about some of the illustrations he has made on the walls in Paris. I happened to be present when he made a new installation, this time at the “belvedere” on the top of the “Parc de Belleville”. (I will revert with another post about this park, opened as late as 1988 on a slope which previously was occupied by vineyards, a gypsum quarry…)

This is a place where you have one of the best views of Paris.

Some initiatives have already been taken to decorate this “belvedere”, which originally was just “naked”.

“Seth” had got the job to further decorate this “belvedere”. He was just back from Italy and on his way to Canada. Many walls to cover all over the world.

He was helped.

Here we can see the result. These are some of his typical personages, heads often looking into some better world… ? You are free to give your own interpretation, according to "Seth".

“Seth” had already about a year ago painted the walls on top of the kind of amphitheatre which you can find just below the “belvedere”.

(Apart from a nice view, the place offers also some places where you can get restored.)

In my previous post about “Seth” I showed a little bit of what he has produced worldwide. Here are some more examples of other works - in other countries -, large walls in different styles and also the cover of one of the cartoons he has illustrated. His paintings are today sold by galleries at quite high prices. You can see his website here and his Facebook site here.  


The "fourth apple" - again

This photo was meant to illustrate something that upsets me a little bit (quite a bit actually). This damaged plexiglass was not meant to appear as something actually looking quite nice (at least in my opinion).

In November 2011 I wrote about an “apple”, to be found on Boulevard de Clichy, close to Place de Clichy.

If you take the time to read the post I then wrote (see here), you may understand my frustration. (Don’t worry, I still sleep well at nights).

Here is a copy of what I then showed to illustrate the inauguration of the “apple”, in presence of the mayors of the 9th and 18th arrondissements and some representatives of the City of Paris…

… and here is what the “apple” looks like today, the pedestal being surrounded by four broken plexiglass “windows”. My intention is not really to discuss the artistic value of this sculpture, but rather…

Here is just a (rather) short version of what I wrote some three or four years ago:

The “apple” was put here to replace a statue of Charles Fourier (1772-1832) which disappeared in 1942 during the Nazi occupation – the bronze was needed for other purposes. Charles Fourier was some kind of predecessor to socialism, utopian socialism. He was also the creator of the word “feminism” and defended the liberty of women. Everybody should have the right to education….

Why the “apple”? Actually it should refer to the “fourth apple”. Why the “the fourth apple”? Fourier made a big case and a symbol of the fact that an apple those days cost 100 times more in Paris than where it was produced. The preceding three apples were the one Adam gave to Eve, the “apple of discord” given to Aphrodite and the one which dropped on Newton’s head.

Thousands of people pass the “apple” each day and hardly anybody understands why it’s there. I tried to tell some of the City representatives already during the inauguration that the “apple” must be explained. I have since written three times to the local authorities … and have never got an answer.

There is a very small plate with a text, in French only, to possibly be seen at a little distance from the sculpture. It reads in translation:

“The fourth apple, homage à Charles Fourier by Franck Scurti 2010. Public command by the City of Paris. Charles Fourier (1772-1832) is a predecessor regarding the work organisation and the relationship between the individual and the society. His statue, by Emile Derré, disappeared in 1942 during the Nazi occupation. Having found a visual relationship with the bases of this notion, Franck Scurti has created a mirror apple, symbol of universal attraction and carrier of a planisphere, the old pedestal being covered in colours reflecting the harmony of the world and recovering the original text of homage.”

Would you understand the real meaning of the apple even if you were curious and possibly had found the plate? 

This is what it looked like end of spring 2015! Still nothing done!!


The Blancs-Manteaux Market

My latest post was about the “Blancs Manteaux” (the White Coats) and the remaining church. The name is also used for a close-by covered market, “Le Marché des Blancs-Manteaux”. The building stands here since 1819.

It occupies an area which used to be a private mansion for a noble family, with the extremely short name O, built during the 16th century for François d’O, a rather scandalous personality, one of King Henry III’s “mignons” (darlings).  During the 17th century it became a religious hospice, until disappearing with the Revolution. Below we can compare a plan from the 18th century with what the area looks like today, close to Rue des Rosiers (see previous post) and the Jewish quarters.

We can also compare the looks of the covered market as it appeared when it was only one year old, in 1820, and today. Crossing the street, Rue des Hospitaliers Saint Gervais (referring to the previous hospice), a separate butchery covered market was later built (pictured in 1852), now transformed to a school building, originally for the Jewish community. There are still some traces to be found, including two bull heads by a sculptor named Edme Gaulle (1762-1841), who among other things also made the funerary monument for Louis XVI and, with a colleague, of Marie Antoinette, at the Saint Denis Basilica (see previous post) and was involved in the decoration of the Arch of Triumph (see previous posts), the Pantheon (see previous post)

The remaining covered market building is since 1992 a city governed space for sports and other social activities (“espace d’animation”), also temporarily used for exhibitions. I went there for an art exhibition by some Swedish artists (now finished).