A bit too busy to make a real blog-post. Here are just a few Paris pictures from this year for which I have not found any use.


Half-an-hour's green walk in the 16th arrondissement

Yes, in the middle of the 16th arrondissement, you can have a nice green walk, completely away from traffic. We are again on the abandoned rail tracks of “La Petite Ceinture” (the Little Belt) on which I have talked a number of times, e.g. here, here, here and here. This part is between the former stations “Passy-La Muette” and “Auteuil”.

These station buildings – from 1854 – are now both restaurants. The rail traffic stopped in 1985 and the tracks disappeared in 1993.

We can see “Passy-La Muette” as it once looked when even visiting royalties arrived here…

… and also the “Auteuil” station as it once looked. In 1962 this became an end station, the continuation of the line southwards was demolished.  

Yes, this is really calm, you hardly meet anybody, even a nice weather day.

You walk on ground which is a mixture of fallen leaves and needles, surrounded by traces of the original gravel.

The “nature” is half-wild – well under control, in an ecological way. There are some benches, waste is taken care of…

You can see how nature takes over even on the tree stumps.

As all over Paris there are homes for birds and insects … and under the insect-hotel, even a home for hedgehogs.

There a few discrete flowers…

… but, maybe, the best views are when looking up.


Behind closed doors

I really enjoy having a look behind closed doors… sometimes you are lucky and can discretely visit a nice backyard like this one. Not much to add I believe? 

I’m not giving the address as it’s not officially open to public. It’s somewhere in the 14th arrondissement, not far away from this wall decoration and a rather untypical metro entrance.


Roman Baths

I mentioned in a previous post that the water consumption per capita during the Roman times (1st to 4th centuries) in Paris, then referred to as Lutetia, was higher than today, maybe then some 250 litres against hardly 200 litres today. One reason to the high water consumption was of course to a great part due to the baths. There were several of them. The one, which to a large part still can be seen, is referred to as the “northern one”, today as the “Cluny Baths” (“Thermes de Cluny”). The medieval Cluny building took over part of the space occupied by the Baths and the remains of the Baths are now integrated into the Cluny Medieval Museum, on which I wrote in a previous post.

Here is a comparison between Lutetia during the Roman times and of Paris today. We can see how important in size the Baths were with their palaestra, (several) caldariums, frigidarium… Interesting to know is that the Baths were open to "everybody" - however what about women? 

The best preserved room is the frigidarium - see also top picture. Consider that this room is some 1800 years old. I found (stole) on the net a picture of what it may have looked like during the Roman times, all in bright colours. There are still some decorative “details” left and also some other elements like the Roman pillars which once stood somewhere in front of the much later built Notre Dame.

Walking from one room to the other you can see how the space later has been occupied and has been  influenced by the medieval times.

The Museum uses parts of the rooms for exposing their treasures, like these tombstones, the upper smaller one coming from the Saint-Pierre de Montmartre Abbey (see previous post).

Because of what just happened to Notre Dame, the Museum has exceptionally and for a few weeks opened one of the rooms, normally under restoration, where a number of heads of Kings of Judah, and some Apostles, are exhibited. They all once decorated the front side of the Notre Dame, which suffered a lot during the French Revolution years. There is also a statue of “Adam” from 1260, also once decorating Notre Dame. On some of these you can find some (very small) paint fragments.

Part of the Baths are of course in ruins, but can be seen from the street. The tight fences make it difficult to take photos…

… but I climbed a bit.


"Renoir's Garden"

“Monet’s Garden” in Giverny (see my posts here) is certainly more known than “Renoir’s Garden” in Paris. (... and this garden is definitely less famous for its water lilies … despite the top picture.) What is referred to as “Renoir’s Garden” is actually part of the green space which now surrounds the Montmartre Museum and on which I have posted several times, see e.g. here, here, here and here.

We can learn that Renoir lived and worked here for a short time around 1876 (two years after the first impressionist exhibition, see my post here). This is where he made one of his most famous paintings, “Le Bal du Moulin de la Galette” (see may post here). It was for the first time shown at the 1877 impressionist exhibition, was in 1879 purchased by his (wealthy) painter friend, Gustave Caillebotte (see my posts here and here) and became the property of the French Republic at the death of Caillebotte. Today you will find it in the Orsay Museum (see my posts here).   

When Renoir lived here, the green space was described as an abandoned park. Jeanne Samary, who was painted a dozen of times by Renoir, appears in another famous painting from the garden, “The Swing” (and her sister sits in the front on the “Galette” painting)… and there is actually a reference to Monet as well – he’s supposed to stand together with Renoir in this other Renoir painting from the garden – there are other ones….

Walking around the garden, you are of course overlooked by Suzanne Valadon’s workshop (see post here).

Well, as I was in company with some green space experts, I concentrated on some shots of flowers, I don’t believe they need any particular comments, despite the fact that they were taken during one of the coldest May days Paris has ever experienced. No real spring feeling.

Two more views of the little pond with the water lilies (top picture).

There is now a (very) little vegetable garden.

On the way to and from “Renoir's Garden” I took these flower photos, including, when arriving home, of the white bushes surrounding my own little garden.  


The Palais de la Porte Dorée

In 1931 there was a “Paris Colonial Exhibition”. It lasted for six months and took place in the Bois-de-Vincennes (see previous posts, e.g. here, here, here and here). France was then the second biggest colonial empire, after the British one. Some territories, like Algeria, were already considered as French departments, but most of them were still real colonies, basically to be found in northern, central and western Africa, south-east Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean… One looked of course differently on the colonial issues in 1931 than what we do today, but by this exhibition France somehow wanted to show it all in a positive way already. France obviously wanted to demonstrate an attitude of “association” rather than “domination”. The exhibition actually seems to have been a forum for discussion of colonialism in general with some hundred congresses, also with other nations participating.

The whole area around the Bois-de-Vincennes lakes was occupied by buildings, huts, temples… in different architectural styles. 

Almost all of that is now gone, but there is especially one building left, the Colonial Museum, which has taken on other “roles” since, becoming an Overseas Museum, a Museum for African and Oceanien Arts  (now transferred to the Quai-de-Branly Museum, see post here) and today it’s a Museum of Immigration History. The building is also known with a more neutral name - "The Palais de la Porte Dorée."

The building as such is worth a visit. Actually I’m not showing anything from the museum as such, nor from the aquarium (maybe another time), but I’m just concentrating on the building.  

We can see a photo from when the building was inaugurated. A statue of Athena (by Léon-Ernest Drivier, 1878-1951) is standing on the front stairs. It has since got a new place, close to the museum.

The "Palais" is of course built in an “art déco” style, typical for the period. The architect was Albert Laprade (1883-1978), known for a number of other quite remarkable buildings. Especially the “Forum”, the central hall, is worth a visit - see also top picture. I was maybe particularly impressed by Laprade's design of the natural light (without seeing the sky) from the ceiling.

The walls are decorated by frescoes by Pierre Ducos de la Haille (1886-1972), assisted by his students from the “Ecole des Beaux Arts” (see previous posts). Looking on the details, we must remember that we are almost 80 years ago.

The floors, both the wooden and the mosaic tile parts, are worth a special look.

There are two special reception rooms, one in the name of Marshall Lyautey (1854-1934), who was the General Commissioner of the Exposition, the other one in the name of Paul Reynaud (1878-1966), who was then the Minister of the Colonies, later Prime Minister – resigning when the Germans arrived in 1940, imprisoned… Both rooms have frescoes and have some remarkable furniture in an “art déco” style.

Coming back to the exterior… The entire facade is covered with bas-reliefs – ships, ocean, wildlife… and a perhaps somewhat idealized vision of the exploitation of the colonies - by Alfred Janniot (1889-1969), whose art we can also find e.g. at the “Palais de Tokyo”, see here.

Maybe a last little thing, in front of the building there is a basin full of colourful fish.