13.12.18

Mascarons... Macron



The other day, last Monday, I walked along part of the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, from rue Royale to the Elysée Palace. This part of the street is where you find a number of 18th century palaces, some of them now embassy residences (Japan, U.S.A, United Kingdom…), and also some other mostly rather ancient buildings.

It was obviously in fashion to decorate older buildings by “mascarons”, often grotesque faces. Paris is full of them, so we should take the ones I will show just as examples. They are “everywhere” in Paris.




However, when there are female faces, they are hardly grotesque, rather nice and friendly looking. Why? :-)

The top picture shows what you can find on top of the official entrance gate to the Elysée Palace. There is a female face… I haven’t been able to find out when this was made. Is it supposed to represent “Marianne” or is it older…? It can hardly be the “Madame de Pompadour”, who resided here during the reign of Louis XV? The RF stands of course for the French Republic which “Madame de Pompadour” never experienced.

There are tens of "mascarons" on the Elysée Palace facade, but they all seem to be the same, alternatively one grotesque man and a smiling lady.

The Palace is as we know now occupied by the French President, today Emmanuel Macron. The day I passed by Mr. Macron was preparing his speech to try to calm down the present rebellious movements and a number of journalists watched…  


10.12.18

Saturday morning, but no market...



Normally, a Saturday morning, there should be a market here…

... and no bars open for a « café-croissant »…

… metro closed…

… no traffic …

… shops and theatres closed… (with one exception).

We were all well protected. (I had no intention to talk about all this, but I had nothing else "in stock".)

 ... and, remember, this happens only on Saturdays. You can visit Paris in a normal way Sunday, Monday, Tuesday... and, with a bit of chance, also next Saturday.



6.12.18

Saint-Augustin Church



A post about another church… Well, there are some 250 churches / religious buildings in Paris – with a domination of the Roman Catholic ones – some 140 … and so far this blog has only posts about some 50 (and my previous blog less than 10), so there is more to do.

The Saint-Augustin Church was built during the 1860’s in an area, then completely newly shaped by Haussmannian boulevards … One considered that there was a need for another prestigious church building. During the construction, it was thought that the Emperor Napoleon III should find his place of rest in this church. (Finally after the capitulation in 1870 and his death in 1873, he found his grave in England.)  

The architect, Victor Ballard (1805-74) – more famous for “Les Halles” – had a tough job: A triangular space between existing avenues and streets and a wish to have a cupola which should be visible from afar. We can see how the church actually has some unusual proportions. The official entrance side, behind the Joan-of-Arc statue, looks quite narrow. It’s when you turn around to the opposite side that you see how big the church actually is. (Part of the exterior has just been cleaned… on the Google Earth picture, the restoration is ongoing.)



The church architecture was actually quite criticized, perhaps also because Ballard was a protestant and that this is a catholic church. Many found the cupola to be out of proportion. (Please note the little red lantern on top of the cupola, some kind of a Ballard signature.)

Some details from the front side.

Looking at the interior, what is very distinctive is the use of iron, especially visible in the ceiling, something quite new for the period – of course a Ballard speciality with the experience from Les Halles.

The church is quite dark and some cleaning also of the inside would be welcome.



There are two organs, the main one was one of the very first church organs to employ electricity.


3.12.18

Chinese colours.



The winter at the Jardin des Plantes may be a bit dull. Of course, the “ménagerie” - the little zoo - and the different museums are there, but the gardens are not very colourful. (I guess this is my 8th post about the Jardin des Plantes – check them all here.)

So... this year, there was obviously a decision to make the gardens more colourful also during the grey season. Some installations have been made, with the help of Chinese specialists - prehistoric and still existing animals…  If you make the walk during a rainy afternoon, it may not be too spectacular, but…

… when it gets dark…!

Look at the difference – the frog in the afternoon and the same frog in the evening!

This means that the Jardin des Plantes is exceptionally open late in the evenings. This will go on until mid-January. For the "night show”, you need a ticket. There are great crowds, you need to be patient!



You are asked to follow a prepared walk and, as you partly are among some more or less sleeping – real – animals, to try to be relatively silent.

... and it's spectacular!







The top picture shows some flamingos. I found the real ones – they were not sleeping!

29.11.18

Naked trees, walls...



The inscription on the wall, which you can now read, when the leaves have fallen, is HP. This corresponds obviously to what this building first was, a “Hôtel Populaire”. “Populaire” must here be understood not as a popular hotel, but as a hotel for people with limited resources, some kind of a charity establishment.  The building from 1910 was originally financed by a rich widow, who wanted to compensate for her late husband’s rather dubious affairs. This was one of several buildings she donated. It was originally inhabited by young men, but was for obvious and unfortunate reasons emptied during WWI, became a war hospital and was after the war for some time occupied by some ministry.

The widow in question also wanted the inhabitants to adopt some good manners, including a good hygiene. Over the front door we can see a bas-relief with a woman who offers a clean handkerchief … 

In 1926 the building was, after an important subscription campaign, purchased by the Salvation Army and became a home for women with limited resources. Originally there were some 630 rooms. It has later been modernised and now offers some 280 “studios” for women, some special accommodations for women with particular difficulties and also a few family lodgings.  

It goes under the name “Palais de la Femme” (The Women's Palace)…

… so it was with a strange feeling that I entered. 

Well, I immediately deviated to a large room and a temporary exhibition of art books – some friends were presenting their works. The large room had some nice wall decorations.   

You can find the building at 94 rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris.  

26.11.18

Tram



The first part of the Paris circular tram line opened in 2007. I wrote about it in my previous blog, see here and here. Since a couple of days, 11 years later, you can now consider that about three quarters of the circle has been achieved. I took a walk along the additional part of the line the day before the opening, last weekend, from “Porte  de la Chapelle” to “Porte d’Asnières”.  (This should mean the end of a couple of years’ traffic jams – until the work with the next extension, probably bringing the line to "Porte Dauphine", will commence.)

A number of empty trams were to be seen, testing was ongoing, the last details were taken care of… We are in the northern part of Paris, perhaps not where too many tourists find their way. The tram line follows the “Boulevards of the Marshals” (here Berthier, Bessières, Ney – all Napoleonic ones).

Most buildings along the line are rather uninteresting, just “normal”… We have the contrast between the old Opera warehouses (with Charles Garnier as architect – I talked about these buildings here) in front of the newly opened Palace of Justice (see my post here) with Renzo Piano as architect. … and I could see at least one “Morris Column” and one “Wallace Fountain”

The trams are running over nice green grass – I wish I could reach the same result in my little garden.

The tram line has honoured a number of ladies by giving their names to different stops. These already existed: Maryse Bastié, Alexandra David-Néel, Séverine, Adreinne Bolland, Delphine Seyrig, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosa Parks, Colette Besson. Two new names appear on this prolongation: Not much to be found on (Jeanne) Angélique Compoint except that she lived 1826-1907, was a farmer’s daughter… and that her family for some reason has given the names to several Paris streets. Easier to find information about the famous photographer Diane Arbus (1923-71).  

The circular tram line is quite often more or less following the trace of the circular railway abandoned in 1934 – “La Petite Ceinture”, on which I posted a number of times, e.g. here. One could ask, why not use the existing tracks? The answer given is mostly that the connections to different metro and bus lines would be too difficult to ensure.