More news from the Champs-Elysées...

In my latest post I talked about the rather newly opened “Apple Store” on the Champs-Elysées. Even more newly opened is an additional location of the “Galeries Lafayette” department stores. I already wrote about this building a few years ago, when it was still occupied by a “Virgin Megastore” – closed in 2013, see here.

The building dates from the 1930’s and was for many years a bank. The architect was André Arfvidson, who created a number of remarkable buildings, including one I talked about in a previous post.

A smaller part of the Champs-Elysées building is occupied by a “Monoprix” store – “Monoprix” used to be part of the “Galeries Lafayette” family. If you want to see some traces of the building’s original banking activities, you must visit the “Monoprix” part of the building, where you can find the impressive vault opening, through which you could walk during the “Virgin Megastore” times … and find books to buy on the other side. Now there is a mirror and you cannot pass.

Coming back to the newly opened “Galereis Lafayette” part of the building, once again, like with the new Champs-Elysées “Apple Store” (see my preceding post), I feel that a good architectural job has been done, a good mixture of new and old. The architect is the Bjarke Ingels “BIG” group, also involved in a future “Two World Trade Center”, the new “Google” headquarters… and a lot more.

Looking at the ceilings, you can see all the pipes and cables… all white, clean … until further.


Mixing old and modern...

The yellow vests (“gilets jaunes”) have now been banned from the Champs-Elysées since a couple of weeks ago, but there are still some (actually now rather few) traces - the most spectacular will probably be the famous bar / restaurant “Fouquet’s” for a while.

There are also some positive things happening on the Champs Elysées, meaning some new installations. One example is the rather recently opened biggest “Apple” Paris store. We can imagine the financial operations behind this movement, which meant that e.g. some lawyers offices moved out, as did one of Paris’ most famous and exclusive shoe shops (moving to the other side of the street)… and which made it possible for “Apple” to move in.  

I think that the architects have done a great job, creating a completely modern “Apple” style, but keeping intact the essentials of this late Haussmannian building, including of course the central staircase. It should also be mentioned that the building now is supposed to be self-sufficient in electricity and that even the rainwater is collected – and used.


A colourful street

I have already taken some odd pictures from this street, Rue de Retrait, in the 20th arrondissement, but since then, the street has become even more colourful. We can find a lot of street art. Street art is of course often quite short-lived, but in this street I have a feeling that it’s becoming more and more permanent and also much richer. 

You reach the street from half the way up Rue Ménilmontant… and even without reaching the top, you have already a wonderful view of Paris. Immediately on the corner of Rue de Retrait, you are met by some nice illustrations (and you may recognize Magritte and Kahlo).

The all over Paris present street artists Mosko and Mesnager are richly represented.

More and more of the buildings have got important permanent mural decorations.

This goes also for these two buildings, the one to the left is a school, the one to the right a theatre, Théâtre Ménilmontant, unfortunately closed since a couple of months, for “security reasons”.

Even the street furniture is unusually colourful here.  You may wish to know that Maurice Chevalier was born here in 1888, approximately where I put his picture - the building is gone.

A little side street, Rue Laurence-Savart, has been immortalized, in 1948, by the famous photographer Willy Ronis… 

... and he also photographed a little girl in the little side alley (behind a closed gate, but with a bit of luck…).


Abandoned tracks

The « Small Belt », la « Petite Ceinture », the circular railway on which I have posted a number of times, e.g. here, here, here, which was supposed to supply the city’s fortification walls and also to connect the different railway terminals, was created in the middle of the 19th century. Some smaller parts are still used, but the major part has been abandoned since the 1930’s, when the metro system had been developed. Some of the local stations are still around, but today used as shops, restaurants…, see one example here.

The abandoned tracks are more and more opened as some kind of “green space”, where you can walk around, see e.g. here. Another little part was recently opened, close to the Parc de Belleville (see here).   

You are not allowed into the tunnels. You can see that before the official opening, the tracks have been occupied by squatters. There is a lot of tagging, the (now) closed gates to the tunnels are painted in the “LGBT” colours…

There are a few flowers… and soon, I hope, there will be more!


Too much...?

This “hôtel particulier”, a former private mansion house – now a school – is very rich on decorations, maybe a little bit “too much”?

Well, it has not always looked like this, the building has been transformed during the centuries. The original building dates from the 16th century and has changed owners – and shape and decorations… - a number of times. It is today known as “Hôtel Fieubet”, but has also been known as “Hôtel Combourg”, “Hôtel Lavalette”… Below we can see some illustrations of the building I have found (stolen) on the net. It should perhaps be mentioned that in the early 19th century it was during a few decades used as a sugar refinery. The present look dates mostly from around 1857, when it was bought by a Count Lavalette who had it rebuilt and decorated in the present showy neo-baroque style. 20 years later the building became the school it still is. The interior was for long known to have been splendid, but today…?

We can see the names of some of the occupants on the walls of the building.

The place where you find the building gives me a reason to talk about the area where you find it. The area you can see inside the red dotted lines was once referred to as “Hôtel Saint-Pol” (Saint Paul) and was occupied by royal residences – several and separate buildings for the King, the Queen, the Princes… - during the reigns of Charles V and Charles VI, meaning during the late 14th and early 15th centuries. We were then just outside the "Philippe-Auguste Wall" (see different posts here) and a new "Charles V Wall" was being built.

The name “Saint-Pol” has its origin in the Saint-Paul church which already stood there and was destroyed only after the 1789 French Revolution. (I talked about it in a previous post, see here.) 
The area then fell into ruins and was during the 16th century sold in parcels… and this is where, in one corner, we can find the “Hôtel Fieubet”.


The Anne-Frank Garden ... again.

In November 2010 I already wrote about the little Anne-Frank Garden (see here), so well hidden behind some buildings that very few people manage to find their way to it, although so close to a place which receives a lot of visitors, the Centre Pompidou (see my previous posts).  

In my previous post I wrote about the chestnut tree that Anne had been looking at “nearly every morning” and which was blown down by a storm in 2010, but of which a graft had been planted here, when the Anne-Frank Garden opened in 2007. I took photos of the little tree, thus in November 2010 … and now we can see how the tree has grown.

Something which is new in the garden since my 2010-visit is a double sculpture by the German artist Aleander Polzin, to honour the memory of the Jewish-German-Romanian poet Paul Celan, who had been in camps, lost his parents during WWII, and who later lived and died in Paris. One can see a seriously tortured man and an immobile woman, with her hair covering her face, unable to see and  to act.

In the garden (from where you can see a little corner of the Centre Pompidou) very few people were around last Saturday morning – two kids with their dad…

… but one could admire all the trees in blossom!       


An ecological little garden

I already posted about the “White Coats” – “Blancs Manteaux” in French. I’m not going to repeat what I already wrote here and here, just say that this refers to some monks, dressed in white. They also gave the name to a street, rue des Blanc-Manteaux. We are in the Marais area - at one end of the street you can see the covered market building which also bears the “Blanc-Manteaux”-name and, at the other end, the “Centre Pompidou” (see posts here) is more or less visible.

We can see the open space, the little garden and playground, where once the monastery used to stand. The 17th century church is still there.

There are a number of shops, galleries and even a quite well-known little theatre along the street.

The street crosses another street, rue des Archives, and you can see an example of the “LGBT” coloured pedestrian crossings which are quite common in the Marais area.

There is an old school building – you can read 1842 on the front. During the weekends the doors are open and you can get through to the other side…

… and find a garden. It’s a very special garden – it’s taken care of by an association, “Les Acteurs du Paris Durable”, in a very ecological way.

We can see a good ecological example with a lady, living in the area, bringing in what is left when she has peeled her potatoes and carrots. One day it will be fertile earth.