Place de la Bastille – Revolutions

The Place de la Bastille is of course quite directly linked to the 1789 Revolution - the destruction of the 14th century fortress, used as a prison, which was stormed on July the 14th, 1789. I have written on the Place and the fortress several times, e.g. here and here.

The Place is now under reconstruction, meaning that cars and buses will have to take new paths and that pedestrians will be more welcome. The work is  not finished, but you can already now reach the “July Column” on foot without risking your life (which I once did), as was the case when it was still surrounded by hectic traffic.

Some of the floor slabs around the Column have figures referring to different French Revolutions (there was not only the 1789-one)…

… and different symbols, referring to the Square. The elephant actually stood here beginning in 1813, but only in plaster and in 1840 it was replaced by the “July Column”, still there – using the same circular basin as its base. (The elephant stayed in place another six years.)

Maybe this is a good reason to write a few words about these different Revolutions? 

1789 may not need any explanations. That is the Revolution we all know about, the one which overthrew the monarchy (for a while), passed the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen”, but also created the “Reign of Terror”, the guillotine… 
The 1830 one, the second French Revolution, is often referred to as the “Trois Glorieuses” (Three Glorious (days)). Yes, actually, it lasted only three days, July 27-29. Charles X, who was the youngest brother to Louis XVI, had taken a number of unpopular measures, known as the “July Ordinances”, involving the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, the suspension of the liberty of the press… He called for new elections, but the middle-class could not vote anymore. There were some riots… and Charles X was forced to abdicate. He was replaced by Louis Philippe. The House of Orléans took over from the House of Bourbon and some new rules for the Monarchy, the “July Monarchy”, were established. The “July Column” was ordered… and Eugène Delacroix made his most well-known painting, “Liberty Leading the People”.

The “July Monarchy” lasted until 1848, when it was time for the “February Revolution”. It led to the overthrow of the King, Louis Philippe, and the creation of the Second Republic.  However, the government’s very conservative politics led later that year to the unsuccessful “June Days Uprising”, creating 5.700 victims, and in December the same year led to the election of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of Napoleon I) as elected President of the Republic. Four years later he suspended the elected assembly and established the Second French Empire and became “Emperor of the French”, Napoleon III, the last French Monarch (1852-1870). We can see the famous caricature (The Pear) of Louis Philippe by Honoré Daumier, dated already 1831. 1848 was by the way a year of upheavals all over Europe, with France beginning in February, tens of other European countries followed with demands for democracy, freedom of the press…

So, we come to the last Revolution (1968 doesn’t count?), in 1871, referred to as the “Paris Commune”. The Franco-Prussian War in 1870 had led to the capture of the Emperor Napoleon III and the creation of the Third French Republic. The armistice with Prussia led to a disarmed Army, but the “National Guard” was there to keep order. The “National Guard” was some kind of reserve force, based on “active citizens”, including all “able-bodied citizens capable of carrying weapons”. The government had left Paris for Versailles and the “National Guard” took over the control of Paris, including most of the ministries. They came in conflict with the government and the regular army. The “working class” was largely represented and many socialist ideas were defended. They tried during their short 60-day “reign” to e.g. establish the separation of Church and State, the abolition of child labour… In the beginning, the regular Army members had no wish to go against them, but … finally, after a lot of barricades, fighting… the official government forces took over. The last resisters were killed at the Père Lachaise Cemetery (see previous post).  The figures vary, but, at least 10.000, maybe 20.000 people were killed between March 18 and May 28, 1871.

Edouard Manet illustrated.  


More open-air art...

I thought that even if I’m not feeling the “obligation” anymore to post as regularly as I used to… it was now about time to post something. What? I went out with my little camera and... just around the corner from where I live, I found all this – a lot of temporarily exhibited open-air artwork. We are on the Avenue George V. The exhibition will be there until mid-November.

The top picture and the ones below, a number of hyperrealist sculptures, are by an artist called Carole A. Feuerman. There is one of a man in a swimsuit, named “The Thinker”, obviously with a reference to another, famous, “Thinker”.

Another artist is Marcos Marin, making use of optical illusions, probably some special kind of “Op art”. There are a number of portraits of well-known personalities and also reproductions of some famous sculptures to be found in Florence, Rio…

The angle from which you look at his artwork is of course of highest importance.

The photos are by a photographer and video maker called Charlotte Mano. She also makes quite different photos, but all very “special”.

The last artist represented is Laurence Jenkell. These “Candy Nations” are bonbons in different national flag colours. They were originally exhibited at a “G20” summit meeting in Cannes in 2011.


FIAC outdoors ... in the rain

FIAC stands for “Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain” (International Contemporary Art Fair). It has been occurring on a yearly basis since 1974 and lasts only some three days. The main exhibition takes of course place indoors, in the Grand Palais, but there is also a lot to be seen in some temporary tents along the Champs Elysées.

Part of the “show” takes place outdoors - here first a few things which you could find between the Grand and the Petit Palais.

So… I made only the outdoor part this year. I didn’t look for “everything”… there should have been things to be seen at the Place Vendôme, but… Well, of course it’s a temporary exhibition.

I crossed the Place de la Concorde and then went into the Tuileries Gardens. It was raining… You may recognise a few artists - César, Calder, Ungerer…

I found also this one, behind the Petit Palais, close to Koons’ Tulips (see previous post). Obviously, it was not officially placed here - the word “Fiac” had been replaced…

Well, I think that I was again, like each year, distracted, attracted by the beautiful autumn leaves.


The black cat... again

Yes… again. I already wrote about the famous cabaret ”Chat Noir” here and about the monthly journal with the same name here… Last weekend, the team behind the journal met and created a bit of publicity at Montmartre. I’m not actually part of the team, but I feel that they need a lot of encouragements! 

The original “Chat Noir” journal appeared for the last time in 1895, but the publication resumed last year. In the previous version of the journal, texts and illustrations were signed Allais, de Maupassant, Hugo, Goncourt, Verlaine, Gounod, Steinlen, Willette, Léandre, Caran d’Ache… Today you find a team of enthusiastic persons behind it (who may not YET have the reputation of their predecessors) led by Romain: Rodolphe (known for the bestseller “Paris secret et insolite” and other books), Champo, Binu, Mathias, Philippe…

They all kindly signed my copy. You can subscribe, but the (very low) cost depends on in which country you live and the postage. I suggest that you send a message to journallechatnoir@gmail.com or look here.  

The sales were preceded by a meal in the famous “La Maison Rose”, painted by many artists (here Utrillo) and for a while managed by the Pichot couple - Germaine (who was the reason for the suicide of Picassos’ friend Carlos Casagenas and who appears on Picasso’s famous “At the Lapin Agile” painting, see here and here) and her husband Ramon, also a painter and friend of Picasso. The last decades “La Maison Rose” has perhaps been a bit of a tourist trap, but it’s now run by this charming lady and you can have a more than decent meal (I have no commission).  



After some 12 years of blogging and having had the pleasure to have some 3.5 million “page views”, I feel that I have to slow down my blogging activity. I have a number of other activities and the feeling that I “must” publish two posts per week is somehow getting “too much”. I feel that, from now on, I will post in a more irregular way, when I really believe that I have something to tell or show… maybe once a week, maybe more ... or maybe even less. But, I will continue. … and in the meantime, I have the pleasure to meet a great number of visitors from all over the world, people I have had the privilege to learn to know thanks to my blogging.     


Koons' tulips

I already talked about Jeff Koons' “Bouquet of Tulips”, which he so generously “offered” to the City of Paris, here, when I also talked about the 2.400 € bags he had created. You may guess that I’m not an absolute fan of his works. These tulips should thus first have been installed in front of the Paris Modern Art Museum, but severe protests changed the decision and they have now been placed in a more discrete way in the park behind the Petit Palais (see my post here). The tulips were inaugurated last week. My photos were taken a bit later, in rain, and may not quite reflect the real colours. Sorry.

This is obviously officially to be considered as a gift by the US (different American investment funds … and also LVMH…) to the City of Paris, in remembrance of the last years’ terrorist attacks. The 12th tulip in the bouquet is symbolically missing.

I’m definitely not against modern art, definitely not, but… What will these tulips look like in a number of years? I think that there is a chance that the little sculpture close to the tulips will survive them.

On the way home I passed this little nice fountain, close to what I referred to as the “rotating showers” in a previous post. I repeat… I’M NOT AGAINST MODERN ART, but… (Sorry about the rain, but we needed it.)



The “Caserne des Célestins” is where you find the headquarters of the “Garde Républicaine”. Passing by the other day, I was struck by the extraordinary decorations of the main building, the entrance…

But first, maybe some information: 

The “Garde Républicaine” (Republican Guard) is part of the French Gendarmerie and, in its turn, part of the national police forces. Their responsibilities include guarding of public buildings in Paris, like the residences of the President and of the Prime Minister, the Senate, the National Assembly… They also accompany the highest national personalities and important foreign guests (“state visits”), including with horses, music… 

Maybe some explanation with regard to the name of these headquarters. “Caserne” is obviously translated into “barracks”. “Célestins” refer to monks belonging to a religious order, created in 1254, by a man called Pierre de Moron and who became Pope under the name of Célestin V.  Why give such a religious name to some military barracks? Well actually this is where, until the French Revolution, you could find the Convent of the Celestines. Created during the 13th century, it disappeared thus with the French Revolution. The area was then used for different activities until it was decided to build the present barracks, completed in 1895.

We can see on the maps below - one from 1780, the other one from today - which area the convent covered, compared with the present barracks. The Boulevard Henri IV was created during the 1870’s and changed the physiognomy of the area. Also, we should know that the Canal Saint Martin with its Port de l’Arsenal was created only in the beginning of the 19th century. One detail – we can see the roof of the horse riding course, by Eiffel, originally placed elsewhere for the 1889 World Fair, then moved here.  

So, as we can see - the buildings, the main entrance… are extremely well decorated. This is just the outside… maybe one day I will try to get inside!


A mailbox

This is what many Paris mailboxes look like. Some have got some quite interesting "street art", many have just been tagged. This one is perhaps something "in between". You could possibly ask yourself whether they all should be cleaned and repainted or not? Even historically some tagging maybe of interest? Today we can see some on ancient buildings, monuments... and we are then quite happy to see them. Look what was written, drawn...on the walls of Pompeii, in the Paris Saint Paul Church... and there are thousands of other "unauthorized" inscriptions.


Red men...

I found a red man among the trees close to the Paris Observatory (see previous post).  Actually, he stands on a pedestal, on which you, until 1942 and the Nazi occupation, could find the statue of François Arago (1786-1853), a man with a lot of activities, but his statue was obviously placed here, close to the Observatory, due to his being – also - an astronomer, known for his works on the (French) meridian. I talked about it and on him several times, e.g. here.

I found out that the red man, sniffing some kind of a flower, was placed here, very unofficially, by an artist called James Colomina… and then I learnt that he had placed another (little) red man on the Pont Mirabeau.  

I have already posted about this beautiful bridge, built during the last years of the 19th century (here and here), but I felt that the bridge was worth some more photos. Those days, the decorations were important - there is even a man with a (tagged) flame… reminding us that we can see another flame close to the neighbouring bridge (see posts e.g. here and here).  

On my way to the second little red man, I felt that I had to take some photos of the Seine banks under a particularly blue sky.  


No cars, no motorbikes...

There are Sundays, when some central Paris streets are supposed to be open to pedestrians only. There are a few Sundays, when the whole of Paris is closed for cars, motorbikes, scooters… This was the case last Sunday (yesterday), a date of course chosen to coincide with the UN Climate Action Summit today (Sept. 23), preceded by the Youth Climate Summit.

We should perhaps know that less than 1/3 of the Paris households now own a car and that this is a continuing tendency. There is an aim, by the present mayor, that in 2030 no petrol driven vehicles will be allowed inside the Paris limits.  

Well, for the moment, on this specific day, taxis, buses, bikes, roller-skates… are allowed.