A break again...

Will be away for some three weeks or so... to be spent with kids and grand-kids. I'm quite sure we will not suffer from the cold climate. 


The Holy-Trinity Cathedral

Since last year we have a second Orthodox Cathedral in Paris, the Holy-Trinity Cathedral. It should have been inaugurated in the presence of Vladimir Putin, but some political disagreement led to Mr. Putin’s visit being cancelled. Anyhow, the Cathedral is there and also a Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Centre. (Mr. Putin recently made a more unofficial visit after his meeting with Emmanuel Macron at Versailles in May.)

The other Paris Orthodox Cathedral is the Alexandre-Nevsky on which I already posted (here). You may ask yourself why there are two Orthodox Cathedrals in Paris. Well, if I understand things correctly, the Orthodox Church has some kind of highest leadership by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, in Paris thus represented by the Alexandre-Nevsky Cathedral, but there are altogether some 14 patriarchates (Alexandria, Antioch…) and Russia is one of them (with some subdivisions). This obviously gives the right also to this new church to be a “Cathedral”. It seems also that the Alexandre-Nevsky Cathedral may be more linked to the “White Russians”, once opposed to the Russian Revolution.

The golden bulbs have all the typical tree-bar cross on top.  

The interior is beautiful, but fairly modest, compared to other major Orthodox churches, but it seems that the decoration is not yet complete.

I previously posted also about two other more modest orthodox churches, the Saint-Serge-de-Radonège (here), obviously also sorting under Constantinople, and the Saint- Seraphin-de-Sarov (here).    

The geographic situation of the new Cathedral is very central, on the Seine River, and the Eiffel Tower is quite close.

Originally, the winner of the design competition for the Cathedral was won by Manuel Nunez Yanowsky (see previous post about the “Michelangelo building”), but some local authorities were against it and the chosen architect was Jean-Michel Willemotte.  


The Saint-Laurent Church.

Maybe I cannot “leave” the Rue de Faubourg Saint Martin (see my two preceding posts) without making a few words about and show a few pictures of the Saint-Laurent Church. Well, I actually talked about it already some two years ago (see here), about its 15th century origins, with a number of modifications during the centuries, with its links to Vincent de Paul and to Louise de Marillac...

One curiosity to be added is that during the revolutionary years, the church became the “Temple of Hymen and of Fidelity”. There were obviously some other “Hymen Temples” created those days also in other countries. Well… it didn’t last and we should perhaps also remember that Hymen obviously was the name of the God of Marriage in Greek mythology.

The present facade from the 1860’s, in a Neo-Gothic style, replaced the previous 17th century one. On the top picture we can see how one has tried to make the facade look like a really Gothic one. 


More from Rue du Faubourg Saint Martin.

Referring to my latest post about the disappeared department stores and Rue du Faubourg Saint Martin, here are some more views from the street, walking down from Gare de l’Est towards the Arch of Triumph, Porte Saint Martin, passing in front of the 10th arrondissement’s town hall, from 1896, and the “Splendid” theatre.... We can see a number of “passages”, small side streets… Actually many of them are connecting with the parallel street Rue de Faubourg Saint Denis, via Boulevard de Strasbourg. I posted about some of them already here. Most of these “passages” or galleries are not among the most fashionable in Paris and in some cases some more or less official street artists have made some more or less official decorations, see an example on the top picture. 

The Arch of Triumph, Porte Saint Martin, dates from 1674, and was made at the order – and to the glory - of Louis XIV – the inscriptions on the top of the monument starts by “LUDOVICO MAGNO…”.  The four “illustrations” were made by different artists and refer to victories during the “Dutch War” (1672-78). The one we can see in detail here is about the capture of Limbourg (in today’s Belgium). The battle actually took place in 1675, one year after the erection of the Arch. The arch was consequently erected before the war was over and before the peace was reached in 1678 (for a short while).


Department stores gone...

During the warmer part of the year, there is a possibility to visit a bar on the roof of the Gare de l’Est. From there you have a nice view of the southern part of Rue du Faubourg Saint Martin … a long street with a number of things to see, doors to push… The street  follows the trace from Roman times, leading to the north.

You will learn that one of the world’s first department stores was situated here, on this street. It was there already before the Revolution, as from 1784 (!!), well before the later famous “Bon Marché” (see previous post), Printemps, Galeries Lafayette, BHV… This one was called “Tapis Rouge” (Red Carpet). Seen from outside, there are hardly any traces left. It occupied an enormous space during its glorious days, especially during the latter part of the 19th century and until 1910, when it closed. The buildings were later occupied by furniture shops, some hotel activities and more … until around 1990, when part of the space was again opened under the original name “Tapis Rouge”, and where you can now rent space for special events. I didn’t manage to get in to see some of the remaining stairs (just a view through the front door), but one of my friends, with the blog “Paris-Bise-Art”, obviously managed (see here).  

There is another trace of a department store on the street. What we can see is actually what once was the back entrance to “Aux Classes Laborieuses”, a shop which sold at low prices to “working classes”. You can still read the original name on top of the facade. (The architect of this 1900 building, Jacques Hermant (1855-1930) has left a number of other remarkable buildings, including the “Salle Gaveau”, see previous post.) After WWI, the place was taken over by “Lévitan”, some kind of those days' “Ikea” but, the owners being Jewish, during the WWII years the place was occupied by the Nazis. It was made into a place where all kinds of things, confiscated from the Jews, were sorted, shipped… and the job was done by Jewish prisoners – before most of them were sent to other even worse destinations. "Lévitan" could open again in 1946, but the furniture market changed.... After having been empty for a few years, the building is today occupied by a publicity agency.  


Behind the doors...

Yes, I like to push doors...  Here are some other examples of what you can find when you are lucky… I don’t know if you are really allowed in or not, so I’m not insisting on giving the addresses.
Here is first an example from the 7th arrondissement. I haven’t found any real information on this place. The obviously fairly old workshops are all in good – renovated – shape. The surprising black thing along one of the walls is actually an old water-pump.

Here is another example, completely different - a place where some people live, some work... . We are in the 10th arrondissement - see also top picture.


2024 Olympics?

At least some 150 statues disappeared in Paris during the WWII occupation. Three of them were in “my” park. They were named “Belluaire” by Maurice Ferrary (1852-1904), “Circé” by Gustave Michel (1851-1924) and “Nymphe et Dauphin” by Antonin Larroux (1859-1913).

On this site, you can read more in detail about the destruction… “ of all metal monuments and statues for the purpose of remelting, unless considered to be of historical or artistic interest to the new regime….”.  After the war, it has been possible to reproduce and reinstall a few statues, but not the ones in “my” park.

I suspect the very active gardeners in the park to be behind the initiative to for a while put something back on the pedestals… and also to reproduce the throws of the discus and the javelin. It’s obvious that there is a campaign ongoing to make Paris an Olympic city in 2024 – see also my preceding post. 


1924 - 2024

Paris was trying to … but didn’t get the 2012 Olympic Games. Now there is a new serious try and the hopes are great that the 2024 Summer Games will take place in Paris. The decision by the Olympic Committee is expected in September. 
It would be a 100 years’ jubilee – here are a few photos from the Paris games in 1924, and we can see Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937), “the father” of the modern Olympic Games, and two multiple gold medal winners, Johnny Weissmuller (1904-1984) and Paavo Nurmi (1897-1973).  
Paris also had the more modest Games in 1900, the second Games after the very first ones in Athens in 1896. The swimming took place in the Seine River. The intention is to make the 2024 Games very ecological and part of the challenge is that some swimming events (triathlon, 10 km race…) again will take place in a clean(er) Seine River.  (From 1900, we can here also see the winner of a hurdle race and the first individual female Olympic Champion, Charlotte Cooper.)
The “24” logo can now be found a bit everywhere, including on the walls of the Montparnasse Tower.

Last Friday and Saturday, June 23-24, some special promotional events had been organised. The most spectacular feature was perhaps the 100 meters floating track, to be found between the Alexandre III and the Invalides Bridges. A race was organised – for fun - with some actual and past Olympic French athletes… followed by other races between schoolkids. .

The races were watched by a large number of young kayakers, who had made their way down the River.   
A special diving board had been prepared on the Allexandre III Bridge… and some divers made it into the River. (Sorry, my photos are lousy… One issue with these events is that unless you are part of the official “Press”, it’s almost impossible to find a place from where you can watch and take decent photos!)

The lawns in front of the Invalides offered an initiation to different team sports. I could recognise one or two well-known “instructors”.

Schoolkids were all over the place!

In front of the Petit Palais we could watch some bikers…

… and the following day, Saturday, I found other bikers, younger or older, who for a few hours had got the right to make a number of tours around the Arch of Triumph. 

Back “home”, I discovered that in “my” park, the pedestals which have been empty since the WWII years, now had got some new “statues” in the Olympic spirit.   


I should have booked….

This was yesterday evening. Yes, it was the evening after a very hot day (some 37°C, 100 °F) and it was the “Fête de la Musique” (World Music Day)….  Didn’t feel like, having the energy, to go for all the places where music was played, like previous years, I just wanted to have a little meal with some friends in my immediate neighbourhood. I should of course have booked a table. This is what we met. This is actually what I like about the area where I live - the number of nice bars and restaurants… but it was a bit of a fight before we found a place to sit.  These pictures were all taken in an area within one or two minutes’ walk from my flat – yes, it’s a nice area!

The alternative could have been a picnic in the nearby park, but…. (pictures taken 9 pm).  



I already wrote about the Madeleine Church, e.g. here and here, but walking by the other day I was struck by the ongoing cleaning and renovation job and thought I must have a new look. The cleaning really makes you observe “details” that you normally just may neglect, see top picture.

Here we have some views of the “before”, “during” and “after” cleaning.

The Madeleine Church has a rather curious history… In 1753 Louis XV decided to have a church built here, ten years later the works commenced. The original architect died in 1777, was replaced … However, the church was not yet ready, when the Revolution of 1789 stopped it all – with ideas to transform the future building to a “Temple of the Revolution”. Then Napoleon had the idea to create a temple dedicated to the glory of his army and there were other ideas about the use… library, ballroom, bank, Court…

When the royalty was back in power in 1815, Louis XVIII decided that the building after all was going to be a church, dedicated to Mary Magdalene – we can see her kneeling here. The works continued slowly… and as late as 1837, there were even some plans to use the building for a future railway station. Finally, in 1842 the building was consecrated as a church.

There are some 30 or 40 Saints around the church. So far only Saint Denis seems to have been cleaned.

The flowers on the steps in front of the Church have been there now for a couple of years. A place for a nice relaxing moment on a sunny day – with a nice view.

The front doors are worth a closer look, inspired by the Florence Baptistery and Ghiberti. They are by a rather unknown Henri de Triqueti (1804-1874) who also decorated a fantastic Albert Memorial Chapel at Windsor.

A few shots from the interior. The Cavaillé-Coll organ has been there since 1845 and has had some famous titular organists like Camille Saint-Saëns (between 1858-77) and Gabriel Fauré (between 1896-1905).

What is really quite special is the fresco in the nave from 1838 by Jules-Claude Ziegler (1804-1856) – “The History of Christianity”.  Once again we can see Mary Magdalena… but also some historic kings and rulers… and also Muhammad, Luther… and in the very front – Napoleon!

Not really within the subject, but I wonder what is happening to what is supposed to be one of the most beautiful public toilets in the world? It’s been closed for a couple of years. I wrote about it here, when it was still open.

Maybe also a reminder that you, for a yearly subscription of 5 Euros, can have a good lunch for 8.50 Euros in a restaurant in the basement of the church.