The only one left (bis)

I already wrote about « the only one left » here – soon 11 years ago – how time flies! I will not repeat what I wrote then, about the “vespasiennes”, about the 1200 of them in Paris during the 1930’s etc…

So, the last one is still there. It was obviously repainted, cleaned… some ten years ago. It seems obvious that something has to be done again - it’s in very bad shape. As it’s the last one I hope it will remain there and will be saved forever, after some refreshing, please!!. It’s still used, but you need some courage!

This has nothing to do with the “vespasienne”, but very close you find this building (71 bis, bouldevard Arago) with a very particular architecture. I haven’t been able to find any more information except that it was built in 1900.



I wrote about the “Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts », officially the leading French art school, a long time ago, almost ten years – see here. I mentioned then that some of the ancient buildings actually used to be part of a convent, the “Petits Augustins”.

You can still find the chapel (after the Revolution used as a museum for monuments – now in general closed to public)… and the cloister.
The cloister has kept three of the four sides with its arcades, but it’s all differently decorated than when the monks were still there. This decoration was in heavy need of restoration and this has now taken place.

The whole school area is full of statues, actually only “copies”, made by students for centuries and they have in general all lost “something”... and this goes also for the ones in the newly restored cloister.     


Poor Jeanette...

Yes, it was snowing… poor « Jeanette ». She was portrayed by Paul Belmondo, the dad of Jean-Paul. She is one of the many statues in the Tuileries Gardens.

I think that on average we have one (or half-a) day of snow per year here in Paris. So it happened last Tuesday. I had some walking to do, so…

There were rather few tourists around, see the poor one alone on the upper deck of the excursion boat.

I didn’t see a single book stall open.

… and some more views.


Blue stairs...

When I was in the area, visiting the « Cité Fleurie », see preceding post, I actually wanted to visit another little artist’s haven. Again, I had to wait until a kind person let me in. This place, much smaller, is referred to as the “Cité Verte” and if it still exists some 120 years after its creation, surrounded by modern apartment buildings, it’s thanks to the same artist who saved the “Cité Fleurie”, his name was Henri Cadiou… and once again the intervention by a French President, this time Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, was needed.  

I had a special reason to visit the place. My friend Christina Björk wanted me to go there and check something. Christina is the author of a great number of mostly children’s books, including the bestseller “Linnea in Monet’s Garden”, translated into some 20 languages, filmed (see my post here and another one here)… and she is also a specialist on “Alice in Wonderland” and… on Tove Jansson, famous especially for the Moomins, with whom Christina had a first letter exchange when she was only 12 or 13 and on whom she later wrote a book.

Tove Jansson (1914-2001) spent about a year in Paris in 1938, when she was 24, to study art. She went to different art schools, but especially to this place, where she climbed the blue stairs to the studio of the Swiss painter Adrien Holy (1898-1978). She talked a lot about it in later published letters to parents and friends. The self-portrait by Tove in a blue hat, was painted in 1938.
Christina is going to talk about Tove and the year 1938 at the Paris Swedish Club in February, and she wanted me to help her with some illustrations…  


Cité Fleurie

« La Cité Fleurie » - the name indicates of course that you should find a lot of flowers. Well, then mid-January is perhaps not the best time for a “flower-visit”, but I was anyhow so happy to manage to get into this little haven, in the middle of the 13th arrondissement, normally closed for “strangers” - but sometimes you are lucky.

There are 29 small pavilions here, all artist studios … and only artists are admitted. The buildings are from the 1880’s and the building material had been recovered from the 1878 Paris World’s Fair (Exposition Universelle).  
Observed from above (thanks Google Earth), we can see how the pavilions all have typical artist light arrangements.

Some famous names from the past: César Domela, Henri Laurens, Henri Cadiou… and at no. 9, Gauguin and Modigliani, who however were rather short-time squatters. (Modigliani had a few tens of Paris addresses… he could very seldom pay the rent.) Rodin came here frequently to get his sculptures patinated (have a patina put on) - by Jean Limet. Picasso and Giacometti came to see friends…

Of course there have been plans to build something more lucrative here, but after tough fights, which finally involved the President Pompidou, the place was saved and is now considered as a “monument historique” (national heritage site).

I found a few flowers…


Plaques, plaques...

Walking along the streets, along the banks of Île Saint-Louis, you will probably find one of the world’s highest concentration of commemorative plaques. Almost all the buildings are from the middle of the 17th century, most of them with the brothers Louis and François Le Vau as architects.

You will find most of the names referred to on the plaques on Wikipedia (I “stole” only the portraits), but not quite all. There are names like Camille Claudel, Honoré Daumier, George Pompidou, Théophraste Renaudot, Emile Bernard, Philippe de Champaigne, Georges Moustaki, Saint Vincent de Paul (but he’s only there because of “Les filles de la Charité” – The Daughters of Charity)  … and there is one building with three Nobel Prizes – two by Marie Curie and one by René Cassin… and … even forgetting about the plaques (I may have missed one or two), it’s just a nice walk!


A little night walk...

A couple of days ago, I left, after an invitation close to the Pont Neuf, and decided to walk home. Half an hour's walk... and you really learn to tell yourself - "It's really nice to live in Paris!" 


The Île-Saint-Louis church

The Saint-Louis island, Île Saint-Louis, was once actually two small islands, one has been named Île Notre-Dame since the 9th century, the other, smaller one, was named Île aux Vaches, the “cow island”. Both islands were mainly used for cattle, stocking of wood… It was only during the 17th century that the island started to be developed. Henry IV, who died in 1610, had launched the idea, but the real development took place during the reign of his son, Louis XIII (1601-43), supported by his mother Marie de Medicis.  The responsibility for the development was given to Christopher Marie, who gave his name to the bridge Pont Marie, the first bridge to connect the island with the northern banks of the Seine River… and it's still there (see previous post).  

The island received a number of prestigious buildings, most of them dating from the middle of the 17th century. I have written about some of them, e.g. here and here.

… and there was of course a need of a church... and the church is there, squeezed in between some old buildings, along the central street of the island. It is in heavy need of cleaning / restoration of the outside. Even the famous church clock with its original installation is in bad shape.

A first little chapel was built in 1623, replaced by a real church, built between 1664 and 1679. The major architect was François le Vau (1613-76), but it was partly destroyed – the roof broke down during a heavy storm… and the church was rebuilt during the first part of the 18th century, officially inaugurated in 1726. The original tower was destroyed already in 1740 (storm again) and the present one was erected in 1765, with a rather surprising design, with great “holes” leaving the wind some possibility to pass by – they were fed up with the storm damages. 

Some modifications took place later, much in a baroque style, but this concerns of course basically the interior. Much of the “gold” was added during the 19th century.

The patron saint of the church is Saint Louis, King Louis IX (1214-70), and you can find him as a statue under the newly renovated organ…   

… and you find him also in the apse of the church, surrounded by his mother, Blanche de Castille (1188-1252), and his sister, Isabelle de France (1225-70), who also became a saint.

Some other stained glass windows…

During the revolutionary years, large parts of the interior of the church were demolished. Surprisingly enough the early 18th century statues of Virgin Mary and Sainte Geneviève were saved - they were quickly transformed to represent "Liberté” and “Egalité”.

The different small chapels along the walls offer a number of masterpieces, some from the 15th and 16th century, a painting by Carle van Loo (1705-65)..., however so much was in the dark, that it was often impossible to get some neat pictures… sorry.

I wanted to walk up in the tower, but the door was closed.