Preparing for 2024 - Place de la Concorde

Paris is preparing for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Place de la Concorde (see previous posts) was empty of cars and full of sports events last Sunday. This picture was of course “stolen” from the net – I did not offer myself any balloon-trip. An amazing thing is that when I passed by Monday noon, almost all was gone, the Place looked normal and the traffic was back.

Here we can see the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, doing some (fake) heavyweight lifting. She is accompanied by Tony Estanguet, three-time Olympic Champion (in canoeing) and who in the meantime had the time to graduate from a top business school … and now is serving as the head of the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics organizing committee. 

I show a number of pictures of different sports activities, not all of them yet present during the Olympic Games. People, especially the kids, were offered a first insight in some sports, led by instructors, some actually champions in their respective sports.

There was a symbolic 2024 meter run around the Place. 

Some of the participants were then, by some kind of lottery draw, winning the right to participate in the 2024 Marathon Race. Here we can see the lucky few, together with Tony Estanguet and the French Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, born in Romania, French Champion in swimming, Olympic silver medalist…


The Duckling Street

There is a little street which you may take during a walk between the Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church (see previous posts here) and the Saint-Sulpice Church (see previous posts here).

Actually, this little street hade the name of rue Saint-Soulpice, later rue Neuve-Saint-Sulpice, until the middle of the 17th century, when it got its present name, rue des Canettes, meaning the Duckling Street, because of the decoration you can still find on the front of no. 18 – see top picture. You can find four ducklings in different positions.

In the preceding post I talked about Marcel Proust (1871-1922). I discovered that there is something to be said about him also here. A lady, Céleste Albaret (1894-1984) - who was Proust’s secretary, housekeeper, factotum, for the last 8 or 9 years of his life - later, with her husband (who originally was Proust’s favourite taxi driver) and daughter, were during some twenty or thirty years running the hotel which now is named  Hotel La Perle. She was very much appreciated by Proust and she was, with Proust’s brother, present when he died… Proust who knew that he was dying had wished her to be the one to close his eyes. Here we can see a photo of her and what obviously was the last page of “In Search of Lost Time” (see “end – “fin”) - she talks about it in an interview made in 1962 for the French Television - you can see it here - in French - minutes 41:40-55:30. And there is also a little poem he wrote to her.

Here are some other views from the little narrow street, with a number of shops and places for eating and drinking.

We can see that the street poles also here have been decorated by CyKlop. I wrote about him e.g. here.  … and on the corner of rue Guisarde, we can see another “duckling” dressed like the comedian and actor Coluche (1944-1986) – I talked about him here and here.   


"In search of lost time"

“In search of lost time” is the title of seven volumes and several thousand pages written by Marcel Proust (1871-1922), by many considered to be among the greatest works of fictions ever written. The opinions may of course differ, but I’m rather proud to say that I have managed to read a large part of them – in French!  Last weekend I met a number of Proust fans and I have now promised to re-read Proust, maybe with “new eyes”.

Well, I didn’t lose my time last weekend. I went with some musician friends to meet other friends who have a country house close to a little village originally called Illiers. Marcel Proust spent some summer holidays here during his young years and the village appears in his writing as the fictional village Combray. The village was actually, thanks to Marcel Proust, in 1971, officially renamed Illiers-Combray.

After two days of preparations and final rehearsals – and a lot of nice time, good eating and drinking - a garden party (with a lot of Proust discussions) took place followed by a concert by a trio of friends performing Smetana, Chostakovitch and Schubert.

Here are some pictures from the village…

… and the park, named “Pré Catelan”, but which in Proust’s writings corresponds to Swann’s park and which originally was designed by Marcel’s uncle – who actually appears on a photo I found on the net.

The church of the village is quite remarkable. Built during the 15th and 16th centuries, its architecture is quite different. I was especially impressed by the simple wooden church vault, painted around 1685 – see top picture.

… and I could not resist against taking some flower pictures.


A few tombs...

During a recent visit to the Père Lachaise cemetery (see previous posts here and here), I thought I should look, among the about 70.000 tombs, for the ones of some famous painters, sculptors… They are not always that easy to find – there are not the same crowds around them as e.g. with the tombs of Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison…

Well I found a few, which I will show without any particular order.

Here is the one of Théodore Géricault (1791-1824), of course especially known for his painting “The raft of the Medusa”. The sculptures on his tomb are by Antoine Etex (1808-1888).

When I found the one of Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894), I took also a photo of the little inside altar. I posted about him already, at least twice, see here and here… also telling how we must thank him and his fortune for the number of impressionist paintings that could be saved in French museums.

Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) was an excellent painter and sculptor, but remains perhaps especially known for his caricatures, often politically quite courageous.    

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) is here represented by a self-portrait, when he was 39, and and a later photo by Nadar (I will revert to him further down). Well, among a number of paintings, we may especially remember “Liberty leading the people” from 1830, the portrait of Chopin from 1838 (Chopin was 28)… I mentioned Delacroix several time in my posts, e.g. here, here, here, here, here… but I can’t now find the one I’m sure I once made about his museum. L  I found only this one, mentioning the outside of the museum.

I mentioned already Nadar (real name Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, 1820-1910) when showing the photo of Delacroix. He (and later also other members of his family) photographed almost all celebrities of their time, but Nadar was also an excellent caricaturist (see Balzac here). He took photos from the air already in the 1860’s, he was a friend of the future impressionists and their first exhibition in 1874 took place in his studio.  I wrote about it here.

The paintings by Camille Corot (1796-1875) may be seen as neo-classical, but are also seen as anticipating the impressionism, which started more or less when he died. He was also much related to the “Barbizon School” (see previous post here).

David d’Angers was a name Pierre-Jean David (1788-1856) adopted when he as a student joined the studio of Jacques-Louis David in order to distinguish himself from the master painter. He was a sculptor and medalist, but today we may especially remember him for the pediment of the Pantheon (see previous posts).   

George Seurat (1859-1891), a post-impressionist, especially known for his pointillism technique. We all recognize his very large painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte”. 

Something completely different: Tignous is the synonym for Bernard Verlac (1957-2015), one of the victims of the Charlie-Hebdo shooting. He had been on their staff since 1992. Maybe a look on my post from January 2015?  

Marie Laurencin (1883-1956) was a member of the Picasso team, more than a good friend of Guillaume Apollinaire. She was one of the few women to be considered as - more or less - cubist painters. Here we can see a self-portrait from 1908 (she was 25) and one from 1909 where Apollinaire is in the middle… and we can recognize from the left to the right: Gertrude Stein, Fernande Olivier, ?, Picasso’s dog, Apollinaire, Picasso, the poet Marguerite Gillot, the poet Maurice Cremnitz (Maurice Chevrier)… and Marie herself at the piano.  (I have of course posted quite often on Picasso, see e.g. here.)

There is a columbarium at the cemetery with thousands of urns. One has the number 2102 – Max Ernst (1891 – 1976).  There is a lot to say about his life - his friends include a number of famous names (he was married to Peggy Guggenheim for a while …), but you can read on Wikipedia. I wrote about him and his fellow artists at the “Fusains” in the Montmartre area in a post here.

Then there is of course the tomb where Amadeo Modigliani (1884-1920) is buried together with his last companion Jeanne Hébuterne (1898-1920). It was only some ten years after her suicide that the Hébuterne parents agreed that she could rest beside Amadeo. Their tragic story is well-known and I mentioned it again in this post and have of course referred to Modigliani quite often, e.g. here and here.  

I was desperately looking for the tomb of Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899), the fantastic animal painter, but never found it. It should be here! I have talked about Rosa in some posts, e.g. here and here.

A last tomb this time is that of Gertrude Stein (1874 – 1946), novelist, poet, but especially known as sponsor and friend of Picasso, Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Matisse… We know her also for the portrait Picasso made of her in 1906. On one of the photos here, she is sitting at the Closerie des Lilas with the Hemingway kid. On another photo we see her together with her life partner Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967), with whom she shares the grave.

I may come back with other tombs another time…

In the meantime I cannot avoid showing some of the wild flowers I so much like to see in the cemeteries.


What's the name of this tree?

A bit short of time for a "real post", so, just a question.  Just round the corner from where I live, I find these trees. To me they look very different... and beautiful! Anybody knows this kind of tree... or plant? 


This was a post office...

This used to be a post office, an important one. You can still read the inscriptions on the façade: “P.T.T. BUREAU 34 P.T.T.”. “P.T.T.” stand for “Postes, Télégraphes, Téléphones” (translation hardly needed). This was the name of the French administration of postal services and telecommunications until 1991, when it was split into “La Poste” and “France Télécom”. This could have been my post office, but no… it’s now a very recently opened “Agnès b.” shop. I could possibly go here to buy a fairly expensive shirt or jacket, but for my postal services I must now walk quite a bit further.

There is still a little post office entrance and some limited postal services are offered, but only for “business”, not for “common people”.

One reason why I stopped in front of the shop - and actually entered – was that I saw this mural painting... still there. It has been there since 1946 and was then part of the post office decoration. The title of the painting is obviously “Saint Gabriel” and it was made by Edmée Larnaudie (1911-2001).  It may be a bit surprising to see that a religious painting used to decorate what was then a state office … but we must perhaps then remember that “Saint Gabriel” is the patron saint of postmen. It’s nice to see that the decorators of the shop have decided to keep the painting … and if you ask, the shop even offers a little paper about it and about the artist, who also sculpted, created tapestry, decoration for the Paris Opera…     


Another walk along the Seine…

A walk along the Seine, between the “Pont d’Austerlitz” (see previous post here) and the “Pont de la Tournelle” (see previous post here)… reminds me about the tango dancing I posted about almost ten years ago (see here), but in the daytime you can just enjoy the general nice feeling of walking along the River…

… see some “nature”…

… some river traffic…

… watch the opposite bank and see the exit (or entry) to the Canal Saint Martin (see some posts here) and a nice three-story-flat….  

… and something particular here – the number of sculptures. Most of these are from the 1950’s or 1960’s. One good thing, I feel, is that they are just there, solid, not depending on a rotating mechanism etc… (see my recent posts about rotating hearts and showers). The only danger of deterioration is maybe a little tagging.

One special word about this sculpture representing Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), which I already described when it was to be found in another arrondissement (see my post here). I’m still impressed by how the artist, Jean-Robert Ipoustéguy (1920-), managed the simplified portrait of the young poet.

Once you arrive at the “Pont de la Tournelle”, you can admire the statue of “Sainte Geneviève” by Paul Landowski (1875-1961), perhaps most known for “The Christ the Redeemer” in Rio de Janeiro… and also have a look at the Notre-Dame - after the fire. 

Well, of course there are also flowers...

… some equipment for sports and amusement…

… a few animals…

… and a number of bikes which have been saved from the bottom of the River.