What do these gentlemen have in common?

What do these gentlemen have in common? They are Swedish and they have a street or a square named after them in Paris. After the recent inauguration of Place Strindberg (see previous post), a friend asked me who are the other Swedes who have been honoured? So here I try to answer.  Have I forgotten someone?
Alfred Nobel, 1833-96, may not need any long biography here… dynamite of course, but as an inventor he held 355 different patents. He lived in Paris 1873-91, was fluent in French (and a number of other languages) and kept his Paris home until his death – in San Remo in 1896. His will was written in Paris in 1895 - on a desk that you may still find at the Swedish Club in Paris (see previous post). To honour his name, he has got a very modest little street, rather some stairs, on the northern slopes of Montmartre. Why there and why so modest? (Paris 18)

Raoul Wallenberg, 1912 - ??, was an architect, diplomat … and is especially known for having saved tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary, while working in Budapest as a Swedish special envoy. He was arrested by a Red Army intelligence service in January 1945 and what happened to him then is still unknown.  Considering the number of avenues, streets, places, monuments that you can find worldwide to his honour, it may be a bit surprising that he has got a street named after him in Paris only in 2007 and far from the city centre, even on the other side of the “périphérique”. (Paris 19)

Carl Linnaeus, or Carl von Linné, 1707-78, is mostly known for the “binomial nomenclature” used in zoology and botany. One example is the “linnaea”, or twinflower, his favourite flower, officially with the name “Linnaea borealis”. Linné had no very close relations with Paris – he made a short visit in 1737 and then met with the French naturalist Antoine de Jussieu, member of the famous botanist Jussieu family. It is then quite “natural” that Linné has a street named after him – already in 1865, linking one of the entrances to the “Jardin des Plantes” and the “Place Jussieu”. On one street corner you can find an imposing fountain, dedicated to another naturalist, Georges Cuvier.  (Paris 6)

Jacob Berzelius, 1779-1848, was a chemist, considered to be one of the founders of modern chemistry. He worked with atomic weights and developed the modern chemical formula notation (for example CH2O for glucose, twice as many hydrogen atoms as carbon and oxygen). He was also the first person to make a distinction between organic and inorganic compounds, he invented the term "protein".... His portrait here is from just before the end of his life (1848) and is a daguerreotype, which had just been invented by Louis Daguerre. The Paris street, which had the Berzelius name already in 1864, is not in a (until further) very fancy area. It's a long street and after a bend it actually changes name to Passage Berzelius. (Paris 17)

Raoul Nordling, 1881-1962, was a businessman (basically in paper) and a diplomat - Swedish consular general in Paris since 1926. Today one remembers him especially for his role before the liberation of Paris in 1944 when he negotiated with the German commander, von Choltitz, in order to "save" Paris despite some instructions to demolish it given by Hitler. The liberation of some 3.000 political prisoners was also obtained. Orson Wells played Nordling's role in the 1966 movie "Is Paris burning?" and there is a more recent movie from 2014, "Diplomacy", adapted from a theatre play. After the fall of Nazi Germany, Choltitz spent two years in prison. Nordling was awarded a medal by the French State, which he passed over to Choltitz, recognizing him as the real hero. Nordling has a square named after him. (Paris 11)

Gustaf V, 1858-1950, was King of Sweden from 1907 until his death. There may be some thoughts about his sometimes rather pro-German and an often rather conservative attitude... but during his reign he accepted a stripped monarchy, a universal and equal suffrage (including for women from 1919). He was an avid hunter and sportsman and even represented Sweden as tennis-player ("Mr G") during younger years. He was married to Victoria (of Baden) and they had three sons. Victoria died already in 1930 after having spent many years abroad - officially for health reasons - in Italy (Capri - Axel Munthe). Gustaf's name was given to this "avenue" in 1951 - no cars around. (Paris 16)

August Strindberg, 1849-1912, very recently got his name on a Paris street sign. I wrote a lot about it already in some recent posts, here and here. (Paris 6)

Now, the question is what about Swedish women? Nobody so far... possibly with the exception of Queen Astrid, born Swedish Princess, married to the Belgian King Leopold III. She died in a car accident in 1935, 30 years old. Since 1936 she has had a square in her name, Place de la Reine Astrid. This is where you find a statue which was a gift by the Belgian State in recognition of the Belgian-French friendship during WWI. (I already wrote about it here.) (Paris 8)



The end of one season… the preparation of the next.

Maybe this photo is a bit symbolic? The end of one season... with the next season already preparing... Here are two more photos in the same spirit.

I made a tour in my (new) neighbourhood... - it had been a bit windy - raking, collecting… millions of laves.

Actually, they would all be worthy of a closer look!

Here are some samples of what I saw.

Some of the typically French square trees started to show that some new trimming would soon be needed.

I noted that that the park regulation, article no. 8: "Keep dogs on leash." was not always followed. 

During the walk I could see the bulbs of the new orthodox cathedral in all angles. (I wrote about it here.)

Two last pictures where Photoshop did something I didn’t expect. 


Saint-Pierre de Chaillot

I just moved to a different area of Paris which also means another parish. Of course, I hardly ever go to church, except for the beauty, the architecture… of the buildings. I thought I owed a visit to my new (catholic) parish church, Saint-Pierre de Chaillot.  

This imposing (almost “too much” ?) building from 1938 replaces a much more modest one (which by the way hosted the funerals of Guy de Maupassant and Marcel Proust). The name of the architect is Emile Bois. You can see how the church is squeezed in between rue de Chaillot and the Avenue Monceau. The idea was originally that the surrounding buildings should disappear, but… 

The Apostolic Nunciature is very close. The future Pope John XXIII was nuncio (the Vatican “ambassador”) in Paris 1945-53 and Saint-Pierre de Chaillot was of course his parish church.

The architecture, although with some Roman and Byzantine influence, is however very much “1930”. Especially the tower is imposing, once again and in my mind, a bit “too much”, but we must remember that our appreciation of different periods in art and architecture varies very much with time.  

The creator of the facade – representing the life of Saint Peter - is Henri Bouchard (1875-1960), who has left a number of sculptures also on other facades in Paris.

Difficult to get decent pictures from the interior… dark and some blending spot lights. The frescoes by Nicolas Untersteller (1900-1967) look better in reality than on my photos.

The fresco in the cupola is by Pierre-Henri Ducos de la Haille (1889-1972) who also among a lot of other works a few years earlier had decorated the interior of the ocean liner “Normandie”, by many considered as the greatest of ocean liners, several times having the “blue riband”, but with a sad end (fire during transformation to a US troopship and capsized in the NY harbour).  

The organ (which we can see also on the top photo) was added as late as during the 1990’s – the first great organ newly installed in a Paris church since more than 100 years.  It’s obviously an excellent instrument and there is an organ festival held in the church every two years.  


The second Rodin Museum

There is not only the Rodin Museum – Hôtel Biron - on rue de Varenne in Paris, but there is another one at Meudon, a close suburb. I wrote about the first one a long time ago on my previous blog (see here) and visited the second one, at Meudon, for a first time last week. 

It actually had a special significance as it was on the 100th anniversary of Rodin’s death. There was a ceremony held (which I’m not reporting about) – he and his wife are buried here, under another cast of his famous “The Thinker” (see top picture). Mentioning his wife, Rose Beuret, it may be interesting to know that after having always been there, despite August’s different “adventures”, the couple finally got married in January 1917, Rose died a month later and August a few months later.

You can thus visit what was his home from 1895 until his death in November 1917 – the “Villa des Brillants”. Different donations and restorations make it today possible to get an impression of what his home looked like, the dining room with a painting by his friend J-J Henner (see my previous post), bedroom… We should know that some of the paintings that you now can find at the Paris Museum, by Renoir, van Gogh and others, those days decorated his Meudon home.

We should also know that Rodin donated everything to the French State, against the promise that the museum(s) should be created.

Then there is of course also his working studio.  We can compare with some photos from the beginning of the 20th century, one with his (future) wife, two dogs and his then secretary, the famous poet Rainer Maria Rilke.

Rodin installed a separate building, partly brought here from his personal exposition pavilion during the 1900 World’s Fair, improved by the facade of a nearby castle (Château d’Issy) which had been in ruin since 1871. There were at certain times some 50 people working here, including a lot of assistants for plaster, casting… Rodin seems also to have travelled to his Paris “Hôtel Biron” more or less every day, where there was also a great activity. 
The plaster versions, several versions, pre-studies, of some of his most famous works can now be seen in the pavilion, e.g. “The Kiss”, “Balzac”, “The Burgers of Calais”, “The Gates of Hell”, “Victor Hugo”….  

… and also “The Age of Bronze” - among his first works (1877). There is a lot to be said about this sculpture, (there is even a photo of the model, August Neyt, to be found on the net), how Rodin was – falsely - suspected of casting on the living model, how he may have been inspired by Michelangelo’s “The Slave” (which also inspired an architect on a Paris post office building on which I posted here), how the name of the statue was changed… , but after having been exposed in Paris in 1877, “The Age of Bronze” clearly contributed to the beginning of a fantastic career.


Christmas show windows again, again, again….

So once more there is time to look at the Christmas show windows, once again the ones of “Galeries Lafayette” and the “Printemps”. Here you can compare with the ones in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. I also show the famous Christmas tree, each year different, under the cupola of the “Galeries Lafayette” – see also top picture.

Here is this time a mixture of photos from the two department stores. The ones of “Printemps” were this year inaugurated by Nicole Kidman. I wasn’t present. The crowds watching the windows are important - one expects some ten million people to have seen the windows before the Christmas season is over. 




The Opéra-Comique was founded in 1714, but the present building, often referred to as Salle Favart, is from 1898. Two preceding buildings – on the same spot - burnt down. The ownerships, the regimes… have changed many times, even as late as the latest decades. The theatre has mostly been run independently from the Opéra Garnier (and the new Opéra Bastille), but the Paris opera houses have for shorter periods been under common management. Today the Opéra-Comique is again independent.

The term “comique” has nothing to do with laughter, but the difference with “real opera” is that in the “comique” the spoken drama often is more important… with some music and singing interludes. However, today, when you look into the repertoire of the theatre, this difference seems to have disappeared. Perhaps the Opéra-Comique has a slightly more innovative repertoire.

It may be interesting to know that the premieres of some notable works as “La Damnation de Faust” (The Damnation of F.) by Berlioz, “Carmen” by Bizet, “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” (The Tales of H.) by Offenbach, “Lakmé” by Delibes… took place at the second Opéra Comique (1840-87) and that the present building has seen the premieres of several works by Debussy, Massenet, Ravel, Poulenc…

The present building, which thus opened in 1898 , is very richly decorated, as you can see from these pictures and the top picture from the lobby.  There are some 1.250 seats.