Montmartre by night...

Montmartre by night…

Still some limited crowds on the most visited spots…

… some people in front of the theatres, the cabaret, the cinema…

… hardly anybody in the calmer areas…

… but the numerous bars and restaurants are not empty. 



Maisons-Laffitte can be found some 18 km (11 miles) north-west of Paris. You can reach it by train from the Saint-Lazare station (see previous post) or by the metro-RER line A.

Originally a small village, a castle was built during the 17th century, then belonging to the family de Longueil. It was built big enough to be able to receive the King (then Louis XIV) and other royals when they had been hunting in the nearby large Saint-Germain forest. 

It was later belonging to the brother of Louis XVI, the Count of Artois, future King Charles X. He was a fan of horses and this is how the place became and has remained a great riding centre. 

The French Revolution meant that the royals disappeared from here. For a few years it belonged to the Marshal Lannes until his death on the battlefield in 1809. 

His widow sold it a few years later to the banker Jacques Laffitte, also a leading politician and a great horse fan, who gave his name to the place. In the 1830’s he sold parcels of the park, opened “avenues” and a number of fashionable mansions were built. Finally the whole park was sold by his family in 1850.

Here are some Google Earth views. The present park is within the dotted red lines.

... and here are some photos of the castle…

… the park…

… a number of 19th century (and some later built) mansions…

… the gate through which the Saint-Germain forest (royal) hunters arrived…

… some horses.

A few views from the old village with a 11th century church (now used for cultural events)…

… and from the Seine River banks.


Around Avenue des Ternes.

Today, a little walk through the western parts of the 17th arrondissement, more or less around Avenue des Ternes and west of  Place des Ternes, on which I already posted (see here).

The word Ternes seems to have its origin in the name of a farm, outside the city limits, a “ferme externe”. “Externa” (in latin) became “estern” and “ternes”. The farm became a little castle of which we today can see some modest remains. A street through the castle was opened during the 18th century… and the surrounding area got more and more inhabited. More streets were created and on the trace of the major road from Paris (Porte Maillot) to the Saint Denis Basilica (see post here) a railway was built, part of the “Petite Ceinture” (see previous post here - and some others here). The whole area became part of Paris in 1860. Here is a comparison between 1800 and today. 

Avenue des Ternes is today a very busy street with a number of shops.

The first little chapel in the area was obviously built in what now is referred to as “Villa des Ternes”, a private enclosed area with tree-lined little streets and some remarkable buildings. One of the little streets is even named “Avenue de la Chapelle”.  

The first real church was built in the middle of the 19th century and is now replaced by an imposing building which was built between 1937 and 1957 (WWII interrupted the construction), “Saint Ferdinand des Ternes”. It’s in a neo-byzantine style with three cupolas.

What may be particularly attractive here are the open market streets.

One bakery is particularly appreciated by the Swedish Paris population – they offer the so called "prinsesstårta" (princess cake).


U.S. presidential elections – in Paris.

“Harry’s Bar”, rue Daunou, was opened in 1911 as the “New York Bar”. The barman Harry MacElhone took over in 1923 and added his name to the bar. It has stayed in his family since. Among the guests over the years there are names like Ernest Hemingway (see my post from 2009 about Hemingway’s Paris habits), Ali Khan, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart, Jack Dempsey, Coco Chanel, the Duke of Windsor… and George Gershwin composed “American in Paris”.

This is also where for each U.S. presidential election since 1924 a “straw poll” takes place. You must be a U.S. citizen to participate. The results have always corresponded to the real result with exceptions for 1976 (Jimmy Carter) and 2004 (George W. Bush). The box is there and the U.S. ambassador (Jane Hartley) was the first one to cast her ballot a couple of days ago. She then also stated that only 5% of Americans abroad voted in 2012 – “let’s do better”. The “straw poll” results will be known only on the Election Day, November 8. 

(By the way, the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel is now again open – hotel recently renovated. I was there last week, had a Dry Martini – 30€. Nice, but it will not be on a daily basis.)


Maillol ... and "Ben"

There is a museum, rue Grenelle, dedicated to the sculptor Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) who specialized in the female body. It was created in 1995 (was recently renovated)  by one of his former models, Diana Vierny (1919-2009), who became a gallery owner and art dealer … and donated the great number of Maillol statues that you can find in the Tuileries Gardens (see previous post).

At the moment, the Maillol Museum proposes a temporary exhibition by a surprising artist, “Ben” (Ben Vautier 1935 - ). 

"Ben" lives in Nice, where he ran a “shop” between 1958 and 1973. He’s known as an avant-garde, post-modern artist… known for “performances”, « installations », « mail-art », « écritures »… and street art – like here in Paris, rue Menilmontant (see also previous post).

Let’s not forget Aristide Maillol and the permanent collection. Maillol was also a creator of tapestry in the past. Three of his statues decorate the staircase of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.  

(There are a number of very interesting exhibitions in Paris at the moment. Here are some other examples: Rembrandt, Oscar Wilde, Diego Rivera/Frida Kahlo..., Hergé, Fantin-Latour, Magritte, "Icons of Modern art".)

The entrance to the Maillol Museum is adjacent to an 18th century monumental fountain, “La Fontaine des Quatre Saisons”. It offered despite its size only small quantities of drinking water to the Parisians. It was already at its creation criticized for being a bit too imposing for this rather narrow street.

The bottom floor and the basement (now a restaurant) of the present museum used to house a cabaret, also named “La Fontaine des Quatre Saisons”, in the 1950-60’s, managed by the brothers Jacques and Pierre Prévert. All names of performers in the cabaret may not be known abroad, but I wish to mention Maurice Béjart, Guy Bedos, Mouloudji, Jean Yanne, Philippe Clay, Francis Blanche, Les Frères Jacques… and Boris Vian who created his famous anti-war song, “Le Déserteur” (The Deserter) here. 


A park by night.

This summer it was decided that some of the larger Paris parks should stay open 24 hours a day. This was also the case with the Clichy-Batignolles – Martin Luther King Park on which I have posted a number of times.  This previous rail shunt yard – for a while thought to be the Olympic village if Paris had got the 2012 summer games - has now since a number of years been transformed into a very popular park surrounded by residential and office buildings – many still under construction.

I took a walk one night. Here we have a comparison of day and night views.