Adolphe Thiers

Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877) was a young lawyer, writer, journalist.., very ambitious and with a wish for a political career. Without fortune, he was helped by his (older) wealthy married mistress, Eurydice Dosne. A marriage with her daughter Elise (16 years old) was arranged. Thiers could buy the Dosne family home, Place Saint George. He was heavily involved in the 1830 “July Revolution” which overthrew King Charles X and brought Louis Philippe to the throne. He served several times as Prime Minister. He was again involved in the 1848 Revolution, which established the Second French Republic, but lasted only until 1852, when Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte declared himself Emperor, Napoléon III… and Thiers became an opponent. In 1870-71 the French suffered the war with the Prussians, Napoléon III had to leave, Thiers was elected chief executive of the new French government and negotiated the end of the war. The French Commune seized power in March 1871… and Thiers gave the order for its suppression, meaning a lot of fighting in the Paris streets and thousands of victims. He was named President of the new Third Republic. He resigned two years later. Here are some portraits of him.

His home was destroyed by the “communards”.  Thiers managed to get State money to rebuild, actually to something larger and nicer. Here we can see what the mansion looked like before 1871 … and after destruction.

The reconstructed home (1873) is still there. The garden has now become a public park. 

Thiers spent only a few years here as he died in 1877, soon followed by his wife and the house was then occupied by the wife’s younger sister. It was bequeathed to the “Institut de France” (the French Academies) in 1905. It’s now a foundation ("Fondation Dosne-Thiers") and holds especially a history library, specializing in the period from the French Revolution to WWI.

Some views from the inside, first the stairs…

There is very little furniture left, except in one room, where you can also find some Thiers “souvenirs”.

Thiers was a great reader… and author of historical works. He was actually already elected member of the French Academy at the age of 36. One large room is full of books.

On an upper floor is the real library, open to the public. The collection of historical works is unique. A lot was of course lost when the “communards” destroyed the previous building, but the collection has grown considerably over the years.

One quite empty large room is today used for conferences, concerts…

On the ground floor there are a number of reception rooms, today available for special events.


Just south of the Pantheon...

This part of the Latin Quarter, south of the Pantheon (see previous posts), is in general less visited than the “Sorbonne area”, unless you are a scientific, professor, student… This is where you find a number of what is referred to as “Grandes Ecoles”, higher education establishments, normally requiring a selection based on written and / or oral exams, whereas the basic university system is open to all candidates.  The Latin Quarter of course got its name from the Latin language which was the one in common use among scholars when the university activities started during the 13th century.

I have had the privilege to visit this area with some members of an association which offers what they call “Parcours des Sciences” (scientific circuits) – see here.

I will talk about a few of these schools. You can see where they are located and compare with a map from 1901. Many have been rebuilt, extended, since then, there are some new streets....

The first establishment referred to as “Grande Ecole”, “Ecole Normale Supérieure”, was created during the post-revolutionary years, in 1794. Over the entrance of the 19th century building, you can read “9 Brumarie an III”, which corresponds to October 30, 1794, in the non-religious Republican Calendar, which was in use 1793-1805. Behind the main building is a large and peaceful garden. The principal goal of this school is to train elite professors, researchers, public administrators… so far some 13 Nobel Prize winners, some Prime Ministers…

One of the students was Louis Pasteur before later directing it and also doing a lot of his research here. There is a specific Pasteur pavilion, where you can visit his office (nicely decorated much later). We can see a photo where he is together with some children under treatment. (It was much later that the Pasteur Institute, on which I posted here, was created.)

The next school I will talk about has a long name, “Ecole Municpale de Physique et de Chimie”, better known in it abbreviation ESPCI. It was created by the City of Paris, when a previous leading school in physics and chemistry, situated in Strasbourg, was lost during the French-Prussian war (1870-71). The present buildings are from the 1930’s and on the map higher up in this article, you can see how the area has been transformed. 

I have added a little yellow rectangle to show where the brothers Pierre and Jacques Curie, later joined by Marie, had their laboratory and worked with uranium, discovered polonium, radium… In 1903, Pierre and Marie received their Physics Nobel Prize. Pierre died accidentally in 1906. Marie continued and received her second Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. There have been other Nobel Prize winners from this school, among them Frédéric Jolliot-Curie, who shared his prize with his wife Irène, one of the daughters of Pierre and Marie.

We find especially Marie Curie again, when we visit the “Campus Pierre et Marie Curie”. The campus houses a lot of schools and institutes. The first buildings on the campus were built during the years preceding WWI on grounds which previously were occupied by a convent. 

Marie worked here until her death in 1934, together with her daughter Irène and Frédéric Jolliot-Curie among others. Many other institutions now occupy the campus. For security reasons you are not allowed any photos on the campus, but I took the liberty to show the busts of Pierre and Marie, which you can find in a little garden.

There are of course a number of plaques and references to the famous Curie-couple and the front street of the campus took its name from them. However, it should be mentioned that Marie’s name was added to the street name only in 1967.

One remarkable building on the Campus is the “Institut Océanographique”, created by Prince Albert of Monaco in 1911.

Here are some other photos of school buildings, taken during my walks.

There are some really old buildings in the area. You can read the street names – which sometimes have changed – encrusted on the walls.

To finish this long post, just a few photos from the area, well worth a visit for its beauty, some cafés, one of Paris’ oldest cinemas… 



... and once more, Fête de la Musique

Not quite every year, but I have already reported on the “Fête de la Musique” a number of times, see here, here, here and here (and even here on my previous blog). So, I’m not going to repeat the history of this annual event when music is played in each corner, in each bar, on all the streets of the city. Here are again some photos, this time from the Marais and Les Halles districts.

Where I really spent some time was in a little chapel in the Marais, La Chapelle Sainte Marie, with pleasure listening to some Japanese performers - a group playing on bamboo flutes, a choir and a baritone singer accompanied on piano.  

Actually, the street where I live already offered a lot!


Asia in Paris

This part of Paris, in the 13th arrondissement, was completely transformed during the 1960’s and 70’s. Within this area you find what is referred to as the “Olympiades”. It seems that Paris had some ideas about being a candidate for the Summer Olympic Games 1976, but the candidature was never presented. However, there were some ideas of an Olympic village which gave the name “Olympiades” and buildings and places got names referring to previous Olympic sites, like Athens, Helsinki…

Here we can see what the area used to look like until the 1960’s … and what it has become today.

Actually, there seems to be only one building left. It used to be part of the car factory, Panhard & Lavassor. The later models better known simply as “Panhards” were produced here until 1967. The building we still can find is now transformed to all kinds of offices.

Finally, the newly created area was never occupied by Olympic athletes, but to a large extent by an Asiatic population. This is now the most important of the Paris “Chinatowns”. The buildings stood ready when a lot of refugees arrived in France during and after the Vietnam War. Many of those belonged to the “Hoa People”, Chinese who had been established in Vietnam for centuries. Refugees arrived also especially from countries like Laos and Cambodia. These countries were of course previously part of “French Indochina” and the French language was still to a large extent in use.

So, this is what the area looks like today, high buildings which would not easily get agreement from today’s city planners. Fortunately, if I may say so, the local mayor seems to be favourable to street art.

Asiatic, “Chinese”, shops, supermarkets, restaurants, bars… are present everywhere.

This building has been transformed into a Catholic church for the Asiatic population, “Notre-Dame-de-Chine”. It’s quite surprising to find Mary and Jesus with Asiatic faces.

There are several Buddhist temples around, sometimes “hidden” underground.

The Teochew (Chaozhou) population, of Chinese (Guangdong province) origin, but rather living (or having lived) in other Southeast Asian countries, represents an important community here and they have also their own temple.  

It's along these streets that you can find the most important Chinese New Year celebrations - see a post on my previous blog... and another post from another celebration (which actually took place elsewhere in Paris). 


A different metro station.

The metro station “Louvre-Rivoli” used to be the major one for visitors to the Louvre. It's on the first Paris metro line, no. 1, created in 1900. Since the pyramid entrance with underground installations was created in 1989 it’s rather the “Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre” station which is used by the majority of the Louvre visitors… but the “Louvre-Rivoli” station is still the one which has a specific “Louvre touch”. Originally created like this in the 1960's, it has recently been renovated. You can really get the impression of already being inside the museum. Unfortunately – or fortunately, the ancient pieces of art you can find here are all copies.

They all have some text information – origins, history… You can even have a try to read some Egyptian hieroglyphs.