This trip to la Ville Lumière (the City of Light) was originally planned for Christmas 2020. I was to fly to Paris just before Christmas and stay there for five days before joining my wife in Verden (Aller), Germany where we would be visiting and staying with her parents. Everything was put on hold for almost three years.
It was during the summer of 2019 that my wife and I vacationed in Germany when I suggested that we all go to Paris for four days. Everyone was onboard, including my wife’s parents. None of us had ever been to France. This French-Canadian was very excited to be going to Paris.
My wife is encouraging me to go to Paris after a co-worker of her’s told her how cheap the return flights were. This would be my first proper vacation in three years and first trip alone. Paris vous aime.
Sunday, June 12, 2022
This is no Big Lie, but I arrived in Paris during the French legislative elections which were held on June 12 and June 19 to elect the 577 members of the 16th National Assembly of the Fifth French Republic. The elections determine who becomes Members of Parliament, each with the right to sit in the National Assembly, which is the lower house of the French Parliament. The elections took place following the 2022 French presidential election, which was held in April 2022.
Every morning started with a copy of Le Parisien. Once I had my newspaper, it accompanied me for le petit déjeuner. Newspaper kiosks, found on many avenues and boulevard across the city, are part of the daily life of Parisians… and tourists like me. These kiosks normally open at 8h:00 … 8h:30 or later if you are a lazy kiosquier (male) or kiosquière (female). With a 9-hour time difference between Vancouver and Paris, and a 10-hour direct flight, my body clock had me up around 5h:00 and so my only option was to walk to la Gare du Nord which was a 25-minute walk away from where I was staying in le 18e arrondissement.
My morning laugh always started with the editorial cartoon on Page 2. In this case, it was my nightly laugh. By the time I checked into my hotel at 14h:00, I was so tired that I had to take a nap before heading out and discovering the area and finding a nice restaurant for dinner.
Here you have Emmanuel Macron (in car) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon. I’m not here to talk politics (maybe I am), but remember I did arrive smack in the middle of an election.
Translation: There’s still this fellow in the centre of the roundabout, I’m going to have to bypass him.
Le Magenta (25 minute walk from hotel and a 5 minute walk from Gare du Nord) was the first Brasserie (restaurant) that I visited at 20h00. Le poulet de ferme (roasted chicken) was delicious. After dinner it was a café crème and a crème brulée. And no, I did not break the crème brulée with my teaspoon like Amélie Poulain.
The view across the street from Le Magenta.
Monday, June 13, 2022
With climate change, June 2022 was also a record-breaking month for weather in France. While in Paris, the temperature was constantly in the mid to high 30s and as high as 40 C on Saturday, June 18, the highest for this date in June since 1947.
Macron: It’s really going to heat up this week.
Melanchon: It’s really the time to talk about the weather!
Macron: No, I was talking about the legislative elections.
Give it some time and you will see the tree-lined Parisian boulevards and avenues come alive. Tourists blend in with the spoken language. I was fortunate that I was out so early. It seemed like I had ownership of the Haussmannian boulevards at 6h:00 while strolling and enjoying the aroma of freshly-baked bagettes, croissants, and pains au chocolat as it enfolded the immediate surroundings. It was all about discovering what was on the surface, and not the metro names below from each passing station.
My morning started at 8h00 with le petit déjeuner (café au lait and a croissant) at Le Refuge, a 15-minute walk from my hotel.
It was still so very early and so from Le Refuge, it was the 15-minute walk to Amélie Poulain’s Café des Deux Moulins and enjoy another café crème, pain au chocolat, and jus d’orange. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001’s Amélie is one of my all-time favourites, and considered to be one of the greatest films ever made.
Cimetière de Montmartre
Around 10h00, I was at le Cimetière de Montmartre, only an 11-minute walk from the café. The cemetary opens at 8h00. I must have been there for just over two hours.
The cemetary opened in 1825 and is officially known as Cimetière du Nord. It is one of the four large cemeteries created at the four cardinal points of Paris in the early 19th century. The cemetery was developed in the old lime quarries situated at the foot of the Butte Montmartre.
It has about 20,000 burial plots scattered over 11 hectares and is the third largest Parisian necropolis after Le Père Lachaise and Cimetière de Montparnasse. It is often compared to the latter for its romantic layout and appearance.
The Montmartre cemetery has 783 trees of 38 different species. Among the famous people buried there includes Francois Truffaut, Stendhal, Gustave Moreau, Berlioz, Sacha Guitry and Dalida, whose grave is the most visited and has the most flowers. You will also find the grave of American singer Carole Fredericks who lived in France where she died in 2001; she was the sister of Blues musician, Taj Mahal. Émile Zola was initially buried in his family mausoleum; his remains were later transferred to the Pantheon and a cenotaph now tops the family mausoleum.
Born on November 6, 1814, Dinant, Belgium
Died on February 7, 1894, Paris, France
Belgian-French maker of musical instruments and inventor of the saxophone.
Born on July 19, 1834, Paris, France
Died on September 27, 1917, Paris, France
French Impressionist artist famous for his pastel drawings and oil paintings. Degas is especially
identified with the subject of dance; more than half of his works depict dancers.
Born June 20, 1819, Cologne, Germany
Died – October 5, 1880
Born in Cologne, Germany, the son of a synagogue cantor, Offenbach showed early musical talent. At the age of 14, he was accepted as a student at the Paris Conservatoire but found academic study unfulfilling and left after a year. From 1835 to 1855 he earned his living as a cellist, achieving international fame, and as a conductor. His ambition, however, was to compose comic pieces for the musical theatre. Finding the management of Paris’ Opéra-Comique company uninterested in staging his works, in 1855 he leased a small theatre in the Champs-Élysées. There he presented a series of his own small-scale pieces, many of which became popular.
Offenbach is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s to the 1870s, and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss Jr. and Arthur Sullivan. His best-known works were continually revived during the 20th century, and many of his operettas continue to be staged in the 21st. The Tales of Hoffmann remains part of the standard opera repertory.
Born on January 17, 1933, Cairo, Egypt
Died on May 3, 1987, Paris, France
Professionally known as Dalida, Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti was a French-Italian singer born in Egypt to Italian parents. She sang in eleven languages, and sold millions of records internationally. Her best known songs are Bambino, Les enfants du Pirée, Le temps des fleurs, Darla dirladada, J’attendrai, and Paroles, paroles.
First an actress, she made her debut in the film A Glass and a Cigarette by Niazi Mustapha in 1955. One year later, having signed with the Barclay record company, Dalida achieved her first success as a singer with Bambino. Following this, she became the most important seller of records in France between 1957
and 1961. She remained a major artist in France, and she enjoyed international success. Her music charted in many countries in Europe, Latin America, North America, and Asia. Among her greatest sales successes were Le jour où la pluie viendra, Gigi l’amoroso, J’attendrai, Salama ya salama. She sang with big names on the international scene such as Julio Iglesias, Charles Aznavour, Johnny Mathis and Petula Clark.
Dalida was deeply disturbed by the suicide of her partner Luigi Tenco in 1967. Despite this, she moved ahead with her career, forming the record label International Show with her brother Orlando, recording more music and performing at concerts and music competitions, but she continued to suffer bouts of depression. On May 3, 1987, Dalida committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates. She left behind a note which read, “La vie m’est insupportable. Pardonnez-moi.” (“Life is unbearable for me. Forgive me.”)
Born on February 6, 1932, Paris, France
Died on October 21, 1984, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
French film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film critic. He is widely regarded as one of the founders of the French New Wave. After a career of more than 25 years, he remains an icon of the French film industry, having worked on over 25 films.
Truffaut’s film The 400 Blows is a defining film of the French New Wave movement, and has four sequels, Antoine et Colette, Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board, and Love on the Run, made between 1958 and 1979.
Truffaut’s 1973 film Day for Night earned him critical acclaim and several awards, including the BAFTA Award for Best Film and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Truffaut’s other notable films include Shoot the Piano Player (1960), Jules and Jim (1962), The Soft Skin (1964), The Wild Child (1970), Two English Girls (1971), The Last Metro (1980), and The Woman Next Door (1981). He is also known for his supporting role in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Truffaut also wrote the notable book Hitchcock/Truffaut (1966), which detailed his interviews with the film director Alfred Hitchcock during the 1960s.
Built in 1888, le pont Caulaincourt is the first bridge in Paris to be constructed of steel. It spans over the cemetery.
France experienced a sweltering week amid a record heatwave with temperatures in the mid 30s. Returning to an air-conditioned hotel room was welcomed, even with BFM Paris Île-de-France, a regional news channel as background noise. A cold shower and a change of clothing was like started my day again. My On Clouds where ready for the 25-minute walk to la Basilique du Sacré Coeur.
La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre
The majestic Sacré-Coeur Basilica is one of Paris’ most visited monuments. The basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Six other architects succeeded him to complete the building. The architectural style is romano-byzantine and was inspired by churches, like Saint Sofia in Constantinople and San Marco in Venice.
The exterior cladding is travertine stone, known as ‘Château-Landon’, that comes from the Souppes-sur-Loing quarry in Seine et Marne and is particular in that it is extremely hard with a fine grain and exudes calcite on contact with rainwater, making it white.
In 1875, the first stone was laid followed by several months of foundation works. Pits 33 metres deep had to be dug which when filled in became pillars that supported the building. Without these pillars the Basilica would have sunk into the soil.
In 1914, everything is ready for the consecration, including the bell tower that houses the Savoyarde, a 19-tonne bell, but the breakout of World War 1 in 1914 puts it on hold.
The consecration took place on October 16, 1919.
The dimensions of the basilica are:
width of 85 metres,
length of 35 metres, and maximum height reaching 91 metres.
The church stands on top of the hill of Montmartre at an altitude of 130 metres above sea level.
At the foot of the Basilica, you will find this traditional double-decker carousel called Carrousel de Saint-Pierre.
It is Italian made and decorated with a Venetian theme. It has delightful bobbing horses, carriages, and a spinning teacup. Once you start exploring Paris you’ll find 20 or so carousels dotted over the city.
The 1900s is when carousels became really popular, or reached their golden age, due to public interest in mechanical movement and the seeking of new amusements. In Paris many of the carousels are situated near tourist attractions and in parks frequented by children. Have you noticed that many carousels turn in an anti-clockwise direction? Historically this is because they were designed for children to be able to wave with their right hand (closest to watching parents) while holding on with their left. The French claim the invention saying they are derived from Louis the XIV’s jousting competitions.
If my counts are correct, there are 138 steps to base of the Basilica, another 59 steps to next level, followed by 34 steps to next platform, and finally 48 steps to final landing. You are rewarded with a fascinating and very scenic view.
Count me out.
Reproduction of the statue of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. His presence here is an invitation to pray especially for the Pope, Peter’s successor.
According to Christian tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero. The ancient Christian churches all venerate Peter as a major saint and as the founder of the Church of Antioch and the Church of Rome, but differ in their attitudes regarding the authority of his successors. According to Catholic teaching, Jesus promised Peter a special position in the Church.
The Sacred Heart
Statue in solid silver, made by Eugène Bénet,
who wanted to translate something of the
immense sadness of “this Heart which has so
loved men and in return I received from most
of them only ingratitude” according to the
revelations of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary.
Equestrian statues in bronze
Above the narthex (long, narrow, enclosed porch, usually colonnaded or arcaded, crossing the entire width of a church at its entrance) stand two equestrian statues in bronze by sculptor Hippolyte Lefebvre:
- to the right Joan of Arc holding her sword and
- to the left Saint-Louis with the crown of thorns in his left hand.
Then, above the narthex and the two equestrian statues stands a representation of Christ. It is the basilica’s most important statue set inside a niche. The giant 5 m tall Jesus shows his heart to the whole city of Paris.
It was around 20:30 and time to have dinner on this Monday night. Just behind the basilica, and around the corner from Place du Tertre is La Bohème, a buvette (restaurant) with its red awning on rue du Mont Cenis.
I was not here searching for four struggling bohemians – a poet, a painter, a musician and a philosopher, but a server with a dinner menu in hand.
The travers de porc caramélisé with pommes sautées (caramelized pork, sautéed potatoes) was very savoury. That’s what French cuisine is all about. It paired nicely with a glass of Sauvignon.
The course that brought this haute cuisine meal to an end was a Pain perdu et sa boule caramel beurre salé (bread and butter pudding with salted caramel ice cream) which I had with a café crème (not pictured).
Rue du Mont Cenis when strolling past La Bohème.
Gargoyles on the western side of Sacré-Cœur Basilica, seen from rue du Chevalier de la Barre. The etymology of the word derives from the French ‘gargouille’ meaning throat. Gargoyles serve the practical purpose of funneling water from the roof when it rains, directing the water out away from the walls and foundations, thereby helping too prevent water from causing damage to masonry and mortar.
Calling it a night at la Mairie du 18e arrondissement (1 place Jules Joffrin), a short 10-minute walk from my hotel.
Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Macron: If you vote for NUPES (Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale), I’ll be forced to go to the right! Now if you want politics that are on the left, vote so that I get a majority.
Husband: Politics are sure complicated …
I travelled to Gisors, a town in the region of Normandy, France, located 63 km northwest from the centre of Paris and spent the day with my friend Christian who picked me up in la Ville de Pontoise. From la Gare du Nord, the commute was only 50 minutes. I was there shortly after 8h00 and had time plenty of time for a coffee and a croissant. I shared a table outside of a bakery named La Marquise des Délices with a lovely lady. “J’adore ton accent” (I love your accent) she told me as we talked for 30-40 minutes. That was a first. Of course everyone I encountered thought that I was from Quebec before I corrected them, telling them that I was from Ontario.
Marker indicating that Thiers Street opened up in front of the train station which was built in 1863.
Since 1869, the statue of General Charles Victoire Emmanuel Leclerc has stood 3m tall behind Saint-Maclou Cathedral in Pontoise, like an emblem of the city. Leclerc was born in Pontoise in 1772. He was married to Napoleon’s sister: Pauline Bonaparte.
Gisors is only 42 km northwest from Pointoise.
I was reminded that if I didn’t like it here, I could always leave.
Château de Gisors
The morning in Gisors started with an incredible two and a half hour tour of le Château de Gisors and the Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais Church with Christian’s friend, Rémy Handourtzel, an historian by profession, and the author of five books – one of which won le Prix Eugène Colas from l’Académie française.
Château de Gisors is a castle that was a key fortress of the Dukes of Normandy in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was intended to defend the Anglo-Norman Vexin territory from the pretensions of the King of France.
Built at the end of the 11th century, Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais Church is a landmark of religious architecture of the late Middle-Ages and early Renaissance in France.
The wooden door at the foot of the mound (motte) was built in the 18th century. It has been subject of many legends. A rumor evokes a hidden “Templar treasure” under the motte. Many tourists, curious, clandestine and enlightened diggers made so many holes that the mound was destabilized.
Here’s an excellent French article on le Château de Gisors.
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Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais Church
Built at the end of the 11th century, the Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais Church in Gisors is a landmark of religious architecture of the late Middle-Ages and early Renaissance in France. It was rebuilt in 1124 after a fire with dimensions and improvements that made it look like a cathedral. Listed as an historic monument in 1840, this church is characterised by its carvings, its stained-glass windows, and its furniture, which make it a unique place in Normandy.
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Claude Monet’s House and Garden
Claude Monet became one of the most important painters in the history of Art. Born and educated in Paris, he traveled around Europe – living in London during the Franco-Prussian War. After the war he returned to France, but disliking living in Paris, he chose to live in surrounding towns including Argenteuil, Vétheuil, and then in 1893 moving to Giverny.
For more than forty years, until Claude Monet’s death in 1926, Giverny was his home, his place of creation, and of his work. The house where the artist lived with his family is a world of senses, colours and memories, and houses his living room-workshop and his exceptional collection of Japanese prints. The two-part garden magnifies the property: the Clos Normand and its flowerbeds; the Water Garden, bordered by oriental plants and weeping willows, spanned by its Japanese bridge painted in green and dotted with water lilies.
I purchased my first book, Monet ou le Triomphe de l’Impressionnisme by Daniel Wildenstein.
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City of Rouen in Normandy
Nicknamed the “city of 100 bell towers” from the words of Victor Hugo, the old town of Rouen boasts in Gothic churches and mansions, Renaissance-style monuments, hundreds of restored half-timbered houses, and well-maintained public gardens. During the Middle-Ages, Rouen was France’s second largest city after Paris. It is closely associated with Joan of Arc who was burned at the stake there in 1431.
Since its construction at the end of the 14th century, the Gothic belfry has housed the communal bells and the town clock.
The Gros Horloge is a Renaissance building which spans the road below by means of a lowered arch. On the two Renaissance clock faces, a single hand indicates the hour.
Under the number VI, a divinity associated with the day of the week appears on a triumphal chariot.
Above the clock face, a globe shows the phases of the moon. Many depictions of sheep show the importance of the wool trade. The Paschal Lamb, part of Rouen’s coat of arms, is represented on the underside of the arch. A Louis XV fountain is the final object of note here. It depicts the love between the river God Alpheus and the nymph Arethusa.
A visit to this site reveals the hidden treasures of this exceptional monument. Within the building, you will visit the clock face room and in the belfry you can see the fourteenth century machinery and the earliest town bells. The location also gives you an exceptional panoramic view of the town.
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The town comprises about 2,000 half-timbered houses, of which half have been restored. The State has listed 227 houses as historic monuments. This makes Rouen one of the first six cities in France in terms of historic architectural richness. What a great achievement knowing that a quarter of the houses in the town’s centre were burnt down during WW2.
Note: McDonalds housed in a 14th century building.
Darting through the skyline of the French city of Rouen, the capital of the Normandy region, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is the epitome of grand and ornate Gothic architecture at its finest. Opened in 1876, today the cathedral is one of the most important sites in Rouen and arguably in all of Normandy.
The church, the official name of which is cathédrale primatiale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption de Rouen, first began construction in the 12th century;
its foundations are a basilica from the 4th century and a Romanesque cathedral from the 11th century. Throughout the years, it experienced hardships
including a fire in 1200, damage by the Calvinists during the French Wars of Religion in the 16th century, and bombings during the Second World War.
It held the title of the tallest building in the world from 1876 to 1880, until it was surpassed by the Cologne Cathedral. It is still considered to be the tallest cathedral in France.
Claude Monet captured the grand cathedral more than 30 times in varying light. The Rouen Cathedral paintings were made in 1892 and 1893 in Rouen, then reworked in Monet’s studio in 1894. Monet rented spaces in Rouen across the street from the cathedral as his temporary studio. In 1895 he selected what he considered to be the twenty best paintings from the series for display at his Paris dealer’s gallery and sold eight of them before the exhibition was over.
The French love me so much that I decided to open a clothing store in Rouen. I’ve just registered the domain name.
Translation (store window): More selection at jules.com / follow me on social media
Joan of Arc / Church of Saint Joan of Arc
At the height of the 15th-century Hundred Years’ War between France and England, a young peasant girl came to the rescue of France. Jeanne d’Arc was just a teen when in 1429 she approached the dauphin (eldest son of a king of France) Charles, the heir to the French throne who had yet to be crowned (the English held Reims, France’s traditional coronation site). Guided by the saintly voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Margaret of Antioch, she told him: “I have come and am sent in the name of God to bring help to yourself and your kingdom.” After questioning by church authorities, she was given permission to raise troops and ride forth.
Joan and her troops liberated the besieged city of Orléans, clearing the way for Charles II to be crowned at last, giving France a rightful king. But in 1430, the English captured Joan, tried and convicted her for heresy, and burned her alive on May 30, 1431, in Rouen. Over time, the French gained ground and eventually pushed the English out of most of their territory. Charles VII overturned Joan’s heresy sentence. In 1920, the Catholic Church canonised her, and the French celebrate her as their patron saint.
Situated on the historic Place du Vieux-Marché, Saint Joan of Arc church is Rouen‘s 20th century response to the medieval Gothic churches that made the reputation of the city. Its sweeping curves refers to the flame that consumed Joan of Arc on the same square in 1431.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Wife: Another heat wave!
Husband: Do you think we can also exercise our right of withdrawing from teleworking?
Every morning started with le petit déjeuner. Thank you Moulins Bourgeois.
In 1895, Léon Bourgeois and his brothers bought a mill on the banks of the Petit Morin and their descendants have continued the adventure ever since.
It didn’t get more welcoming than Jules Jo, the neighbourhood bistro and new HQ of le 18ème arrondissement which was a 10-minute walk from my hotel, and across from la Mairie (town hall) at la place Jules-Joffrin.
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After le petit déjeuner that consisted of a café crème, freshly pressed orange, and a pain au chocolat, I was off to visit l’Atelier Sax Machine (Sax Machine Workshop) where I talked to a very nice lady who ran this business where saxophone specialists, craftsmen/repair techs who are available by appointment for any adjustment, repair, overhaul and renovation work on your saxophones. We talked about Adolphe Sax, and the House of Mr. Sax, the magical place in Belgium dedicated to him. She also told me where I would find the building where in 1841 Sax opened his musical instrument factory at 50, rue Neuve-St Georges, now rue Saint-Georges.
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I believe it was last night at the hotel that I saw the word canicule on television where they were talking how the weather in Paris was going to be in the mid 30s and then hit 40 degrees on Friday, I believe. Now, if I would have heard vague de chaleur, I would have immediately knew that France was going to be in a heat wave. I had never heard of this word (canicule) as it has never been part of my vocabulary. I have learned a new french word.
Being up so early and hitting the streets between 5h30 – 6h00, I would return to my hotel in the afternon, have a cold shower, and out again, a changed man. I was on my way back to the hotel this Wednesday afternoon when I stopped at À la Place Saint Georges for a café crème and a croissant ou pain au chocolat.
The Monument à Gavarni by French Sculptor Denys Puech (1854-1942) in the centre of Place Saint-Georges
in le 9ème Arrondissement was erected in 1911 in memory of the satirical cartoonist Paul Gavarni (1804-1866), a caricaturist who lived in the neighborhood, and was famous for his portraits of Parisian daily life characters in the 19th century.
Le Moulin Rouge
The Moulin Rouge at the foot of Montmartre opened at the height of Belle Epoque Paris in 1889, quickly associated with the wild cancan dance and immortalised in the paintings of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
It has lived many lives, rebuilt after the fire, surviving through World War II, its boards graced by legends from Edith Piaf to Charles Aznavour, and then getting another global boost with the release of the 2001 eponymous film starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.
Elvis Presley himself never came to Paris without spending a little time at the Moulin Rouge. It is said that he had a crush on a French Cancan dancer.
There was no shortage of great brasseries or bistros to eat and drink in Paris, one of the gastronomic capitals of the world. I remember researching restaurants in and around Montmartre prior to travelling to France. I had a list of three or four restaurants but in the end, I completely forgot about them. I tried as much to stay away from places near tourist attractions, but that was not always possible when it was getting late. I also made sure that menu boards and/or signage were only in French. I walked a bit further away and would find places that were not too crowded, with outdoor seating. One such place was Le Chinon on Rue des Abbesses, where I stopped for lunch where I had a beer and a margherita pizza while reading Le Parisien. Once back in North Vancouver, I looked up these restaurants on Tripadvisor to read the negative reviews for a laugh. Not surprising that the majority were from North America. I just shook my head and laughed at these reviews. There’s no understanding of the French culture. The French are rude? I don’t think so.
The only negative review I have would be from Autour du Moulin on Rue Lepic, not too far from Sacré-Coeur, where I had a tarte tatin au pommes chaudes glace vanille. A tarte tatin is an upside-down apple tart — the apples are cooked on the stove top in caramelized sugar for a bit, then topped with pastry dough and baked. It is then inverted onto a serving dish when it comes out of the oven. The apples or the pastry had a bit of a freezer burn taste, and so it’s possible that this dessert was made ahead and kept in the freezer.
I did have a great view from Autour du Moulin at the top of Rue Lepic and looking down on Rue Tholozé (Studio 28 on left side) while having dessert and a café crème. I believe the owner served me and he was very nice. There was a retired couple that must have been in their seventies sitting a the table ahead of me enjoying wine and charcuterie.
Le Moulin de la Galette
One dining experience that was on my list but not realized was Le Moulin de la Galette, immortalised by none other than the great painter Renoir. I never did sit in the shadow of this grand windmill and enjoy a delicious meal
at this Paris legend.
Originally there were 13 windmills dating back to the 17th century at the top of the hilly district of Montmartre; it was a place where grain was ground. By the 19th century the mills were disappearing and the area was becoming
less agricultural as the poor of the inner districts of Paris moved out to make room for building projects. By the late 1800s, the Moulin de la Galette, so called for the owners who made a brown bread called galette, became a place of entertainment, a guinguette, a neighbourhood café where you go to drink, eat, and dance during holidays.
Le Moulin de la Galette found huge popularity with the new locals including Toulouse l’Autrec and Picasso as well as Renoir who painted it in his 1876 masterpiece Bal du Moulin de la Galette.
The restaurant which reopened after a makeover in 2016 is a chic brasserie with a great ambiance and a terrific menu. The décor is perfectly elegant, and very clever. Above the bar is a big round glass window through which you can see into the top of the mill building so its protected for future generations but we can still all admire it. And, on sunny days the garden is like being in the countryside in the middle of the city.
Beautiful apartment building at 19, Rue Ravignan, near le Bateau-Lavoir (13, Rue Ravignan) on Place Emile Goudeau.
“Nous retournerons tous au Bateau-Lavoir, nous n’aurons vraiment été heureux que là…” (“We’ll all return to the Bateau-Lavoir, the only place where we were truly happy…”)
Until his death, Picasso (1881-1973) remained nostalgic for the rural Montmartre of his youth with its farms, orchards, and colourful cabarets. Arriving on the Butte at 19 years old, he took up a studio here in 1904 where he painted the last works of his “Blue Period”. His “Rose Period” gave us “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” which was inspired by his relationship with Fernande Olivier.
In 1965 the building was bought by the City of Paris and the state with the intention of having it restored; in 1969 it was classified as a historical monument. Dilapidated with its wooden frames, le Bateau-Lavoir was destroyed by fire on May 12, 1970. In 1978 a set of twenty-five artists’ studios was rebuilt there. The site is still used as artists’ studios but cannot be visited.
Maxime Maufra, a French landscape and marine painter, was the first artist to settle here in 1893, in what was still called “la maison du Trappeur”. The name of Bateau-Lavoir came from Max Jacob, a French poet, who baptized it when he saw laundry drying outside .
Liberty – Equality – Fraternity
The national motto of France is inscribed on the pediments of town halls and schools.
Contrary to what one might think, Studio 28 does not owe its name to its address (the room is located at 10 rue Tholozé) but to its opening in 1928.
Considered the first avant-garde cinema, Studio 28 quickly became a favorite meeting place for the likes of Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel, Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalì, French Film Director Abel Gance and French poet, playwright, novelist, designer, filmmaker Jean Cocteau.
L’Age d’Or (directed by Buñuel, screenplay by Buñuel and Dalí) had its premiere presentation at le Studio 28 on 29 November 1930. Later, on 3 December 1930, riots broke out, led by an unholy alliance of outraged rightwing Catholics, patriots and anti-Semites. The screen was showered with ink and the foyer exhibition of Surrealist art was destroyed. L’Age d’Or itself was immediately banned as incendiary, and remained virtually unshown until the early Seventies.
Today, le Studio 28 welcomes more than 50,000 spectators a year, with four screenings a day. The air conditioned room with 172 seats is equipped with a SONY 4K projector, 5.1 and 7.1 sound and a large screen 10 meters wide. There’s also a bar, and a garden area.
It couldn’t have been more perfect. I got to see Les passagers de la nuit (The Passengers of the Night) on this Wednesday night. The film stars Charlotte Gainsbourg. I’m a fan of her and the music of her late father, Serge Gainsbourg. On Saturday night I decided to go see Canadian maestro David Cronenberg’s new film Crimes of the Future which prompted both walkouts and a six-minute standing ovation after the credits rolled at its Cannes Film Festival premiere.
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Note: 35 years after Loulou, Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert, two giants of French Cinéma, are reunited for Valley of Love, which was an Official Selection at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
In 1997 the corner of rue de l’Abreuvoir and rue Girardon was given the name ‘Place Dalida’ in honour of the star. A life-size bust in bronze of the singer was sculpted by Alain Aslan. The polished part of metal on the breasts is apparently due to a superstition. Touching them would bring good you good luck.
Dalida (1933-1987) sold no less than 170 million albums. She recorded songs in 10 languages from French to Italian and Arabic and German. Her success was so great that she is considered today among the six most popular singers in the world. Dalida was awarded more than 70 gold records and was the first singer to receive a diamond disc.
The performer lived in Montmartre (Rue d’Orchampt) for 25 years, from 1962 until his suicide on May 3, 1987.
Monument a Theophile Steinlen
Théophile Steinlen (1859-1923) was a French-Swiss artist best known for his Art Nouveau poster designs and paintings. Steilen often depicted animals, specifically cats, as well as the bohemian cabaret culture of turn-of-the-century Paris. Cats appealed to Steinlen for their charm, movement, and character, as well as for their symbolic properties. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Steinlen studied design at the University of Lausanne, before moving to Paris. Amidst the artistic avant-garde in Montmarte, it was at the notorious Le Chat Noir club, that Steinlen met artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Louis Anquetin, Adolphe Willette, and Félix Vallotton. He produced advertisements for the Le Chat Noir, and found artistic recognition through frequent exhibitions at the Salon des Indépendants. The artist died on December 13, 1923 in Paris.
It was a late dinner on this night (22h30) at Jules Jo. The bavette (flank steak) and maroilles cream was delicious. The comparison I can think of for maroilles cream would be of pairing horseradish sauce with richer cuts of beef.
I asked the server if their branded swingtop bottles they used for water could be purchased. One of these bottles is now in my kitchen.
Crème de Maroilles, frites maison, salade
(Angus flank steak, maroilles cream, home fries, salad)
Thursday, June 16, 2022
First Student: What’s with the bottle?
Second Student: It’s what you call a cheat sheet for the BAC exam on a hot day.
Note: The BAC is the main diploma needed to pursue university studies. Every year, over 700,000 students including 12,000 students abroad take part in the French Baccalauréat final exams. This academic qualification marks the end of high school. It was first introduced by Napoleon I in 1808.
You can tell from the clock atop la Mairie du 18e arrondissement (Town hall) that I was an early bird. All was quiet and the streets of Paris were mine.
I was off to walk around Montmarte. It was still too early for le petit déjeuner.
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Vincent van Gogh
Dutch Post-Impressionist painterVincent van Gogh (1853-1890) decided to become an artist at the age of 27. That decision would change his life and art history forever.
Van Gogh a Montmartre
février 1886 – février 1888
In the 1880s, Theo van Gogh, who was his brother’s artistic patron and closest confidant, was becoming a very successful art dealer in Paris. The French city was the cultural capital of the Western world andd every aspiring painter was drawn to it.
In February 1986, Vincent went to live with Theo in Montmartre (54 Rue Lepic in Montmartre. The apartment was on the third floor) and made many friends in the circles of the avant-garde artists. He found these interactions and exchanges highly stimulating and his talents blossomed. He then left Paris to put his theories and techniques to the test in the South of France.
Van Gogh a Arles
février 1888 – avril 1889
Vincent lived in Arles in the South of France for more than a year.
He experienced great productivity there before suffering from a mental breakdown.
Van Gogh a St Remy
avril 1889 – mai 1890
Vincent spent a year in an asylum in Saint-Rémy de Provence and painted many of his most famous works there.
Van Gogh a Auvers
20 mai 1890 – 29 juillet 1890
Vincent spent the final, highly productive months of his life in Auvers-sur-Oise. He created more than 80 works in less than 70 days. He wrote to his mother and sister and resumed his correspondence with Paul Gauguin. But he was beset by a dilemna that had haunted him all his life he was unhappy in the company of others, but no happier on his own. A few days before his death, he ordered more paint and canvases from Theo. There was nothing to indicate that he wished to end his life. One Sunday, he left the Auberge Ravoux for the countryside as he did every day, and returned several hours later with a bullet lodged in his chest. He died two days later. No one knows exactly what happened on July 27, 1890 in Auvers.
Le Clos Montmartre
The cultivation of vines around Paris dates from the Gallo-Roman era. Ancient texts and archaeological excavations indicate that until the end of the Middle Ages, the region located within a radius of a hundred kilometers around Paris was one of the main producers of wine in Europe, with nearly 42,000 hectares.
The vines were planted to supply the city dwellers. Having a vineyard was a guarantee of wealth. One of the major aspirations of wealthy city dwellers was to serve wines from their estates on their tables. Until the 19th century, wine was considered a thirst quencher. It was much lighter than today. The water was not consumable as it was, while the alcohol in the wine prevented microorganisms from developing. The vineyards belonged to abbeys. The hill of Montmartre was thus the property of the abbey of Saint-Denis, like those of Clignancourt and the Goutte d’Or. The vineyards of Gentilly, Vanves and Suresnes belonged to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Unfortunately the vineyard itself is not a place that is open to the public for visitation. The perimeter of the plot is line with metal fencing and the main gate is locked year round. The vineyard takes up a total of 0.15 hectares of space, which is small considering the usual sized of wine farms in France.
The vineyard produces 27 varieties of wine (75% of the produce falls in the Gamay family, 20% falls under Pinot and the rest are small mixes of other variants).
In total this vineyard is able to produce enough grapes to make 500 liters of wine per year. This works out to roughly 1,700 bottles of wine. France is the biggest producer of wine in the world. In total, the country will produce an average of seven or eight billion bottles of wine per year. This puts the size of Montmartre Vineyard into perspective.
All Proceeds from the vineyard of Montmartre go to charity. When compared to other fine wines produced around France, the quality of the Montmartre wine would only ever be classes as average. It’s never going to compete with Bordeaux or Burgundy — but the Montmartre wines have a soul of their own that makes the quality somewhat irrelevant.
The Vineyard of Montmartre remains under ownership of the City of Paris. Lusted over by property developers, the one remaining plot was revived in 1933 by a group of local artists led by illustrator and poster artist Francis Poulbot. These artists petitioned the government to grant them the land so they could replant the vines. Knowing that French law states that nothing can be built on a vineyard, they saved this small patch of nature from the builder’s shovel.
Peintre des Gosses
“Il sauvegarda ce site.”
Illustrator of needy children
“He saved this place.”
La Maison Rose
La Maison Rose at the corner of rue des Saules and rue de l’Abreuvoir has been immortalized by many painters,
including Maurice Utrillo and Bernard Buffet.
Catalan and Spanish artist Ramon Pichot bought this small house in 1905 at 2 Rue de L’Abreuvoir. In 1908 he married Germaine Gargallo (Pablo Picasso’s lover), who decided the same year to repaint the outside walls in pink and opened “La Maison Rose”. Their restaurant welcomed regularly all the residents of Le Bateau Lavoir, and their other artists friends.
The philosophy of La Maison Rose is inspired by the history of the Montmartre village and the family history of the owners: French / Italian. The recipes are inspired by French “farm to table” cuisine and the Italian “cucina povera” with absolute respect of seasonal products, priority to short distribution produce, and partnerships with 18ième district suppliers in order to support local economy and lower carbon footprint.
Le Consulat was another desired destination on my list, but the place opens at 11h00 for le déjeuner. I wasn’t about to skip le petit déjeuner. I was on my way to Le Cépage Monmartrois, a 6-minute walk northwest.
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Le Cépage Monmartrois
I was ready for le petit déjeuner. I had Le Parisien in hand, and the terrace to myself which is set back from the rue de Caulaincourt and overlooking the top of the typical Montmartre stairs that almost all consist of more than 300 steps.
The exterior of the restaurant was going thru the process of some beautification with the presence of scaffolding, possibly some ravalement (cleaning).
I’ve had nothing but excellent service at all the restaurants in and around Montmartre. I was so impressed with le petit déjeuner at Le Cépage. It was delicious and so cheap.
… that I returned for dinner.
By now, you all know what the typical petit déjeuner is. The XL here is the added omelet.
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Later in the night, I was going to be entertained Au Lapin Agile from 21h00 until 1h00.
For dinner, I had ravioli de royans. It was delicious. Not to be confused with Italian ravioli, the raviole is a speciality of the historical region of Dauphiné. It dates back to Roman times, when it was known as rissole. And it was in the 13th century that the word raviole appeared, when turnip leaves replaced the meat inside. In the previous century, professional raviole-makers went from house to house, making ravioles for special occasions. I won’t be going from house to house, and won’t be needing special occasions, but can tell you that I will be perfecting this great dish.
With the meal, I had a small glass of La Chouffe, by now my go-to and favourite beer. I then asked Rémy (server) for some suggestions for a drink that would be more refreshing. He returned a few moments later telling me that I should have a Mojito (a traditional Cuban cocktail). It was so refreshing that I had two of them.
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I still had my Métro pass with photo from the last time I was in Paris (July 2019). My pass is good until 2025. Even though I added a week’s worth of value on my card, I only used it 5 times. It’s just more convenient than purchasing tickets. I like the tap-and-go. One time, this French mec was following me closely, pretending to be talking on his cell phone, like he was drafting the peloton in the Tour de France. I knew what he was up to. He was trying to get a free ride thru the turnstile. It did not work. I turned sharply to the left to get him off my tail before attempting another tap-and-go.
The Paris metro is very masculine, and not in terms of commuters, but in terms of names given to metro stations. Of the 302 metro stations, only 7 bear names of women: Louise Michel, Europe Simone Veil, (Marguerite) Boucicaut, Pierre and Marie-Curie, Madeleine, Chardon-Lagache, and Barbès-Rochechouart.
(1) Madeleine station owes it to l’Église de la Madeleine (Madeleine Church). Its construction started in 1764 and finished in 1842. Its appearance is atypical of that of a religious building, in the form of a Greek temple without any crosses or bell-towers. Napoleon wanted it to be a pantheon in honor of his armies. Before entering through the two monumental bronze doors, you can admire the Corinthian columns which surround the building. Inside, there are sculptures, paintings and the famous neo-Byzantine mosaic created by Charles-Joseph Lameire. The magnificant church organ was designed by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. Throughout the year, both day and night, the church programmes quality classical music concerts.
(2) It was in 1845 that the madeleine also appeared. This small sweet cake with a soft dough and a rounded shape was invented by cook Madeleine Paulmier. The writer Marcel Proust (1871-1922) made it famous in A la Recherche du temps perdu.
(3) The Parisian Transport Authority (RATP) as a long tradition of April Fool’s. On the night of March 31 to April 1, 1994, three Paris metro stations were renamed, including Madeleine station which became Martine Proust.
I don’t like shopping with the exception of when it comes to books and music. I took the métro for the first time when I went to le Passage du Havre, a shopping mall of 40 shops only 24 minutes away. I got on Ligne 12 from Jules Joffrin. Passage du Havre was only 7 stops, but I missed my stop and got off at the next one, Madeleine.
It was in and out at Fnac (Fédération Nationale d’Achats des Cadres), a large French retail chain that sells everything
from books to music, computer software and hardware, and much more. I purchased one book (Histoire de France by Jacques Bainville) and three vinyl albums: Récital Bobino (1963) by Edith Piaf/Théo Sarapo, L’Homme à tête de chou (1976) by Serge Gainsbourg, and L’Opportuniste (1968) by Jacques Dutronc.
On my way back to the hotel I stopped at Jules Jo as I had not had lunch. It was now 15h00. I wanted something light and ordered a planche de fromage et charcuterie. A cold La Chouffe made its presence. The cheese and cold cuts order is something that you normally share, and so in the end, I could not see any wood, only the bottom of the empty glass.
Au Lapin Agile
I booked a reservation on May 17th so that I could be part of the spectacle at Au Lapin Agile the following month on Thursday, June 16th. I received confirmation from the owner, Yves Mathieu.
Au Lapin Agile is one of the most prestigious names in Montmartre’s artistic heritage. In the field of painting, literature, singing, poetry, music, popular songs, it conveys the image of a French and Parisian tradition, appreciated by audiences from around the world.
Around 1900, the old houses of Montmartre, such as the house of French composer Hector Berlioz, began to be demolished so that apartment buildings could be built. So as not to be demolished and to protect the building (built around 1820) from developers, French singer Aristide Bruant buys Au Lapin Agile in 1913. This is how Frédé (born Suzanne Jeanne Baulé), a French host and manager of cabarets and an unforgettable figure in Montmartre, was able to continue to exploit it. She gave a determining artistic impetus to the cabaret. For the first time perhaps, different arts lived in community. Writers, poets, musicians, actors, sculptors, all unknown at the time, rubbed shoulders, criticized each other, made fun of each other, helped each other. Around the guitar and the cello of Frédé (Frédéric Gérard), the new owner of the place, the richness of the history of Au Lapin Agile is born, in the evenings, where everyone plays, recites, sings his works, and sings popular songs in chorus. Their common denominator, humor in camaraderie.
Au Lapin Agile became a cabaret in 1960. It was first known as the less inviting name of Au rendez-vous des voleurs (Thieves’ meeting place), then it was called the Cabaret des Assassins because the engravings of famous criminals like Ravaillac or Charlotte Corday were hung in the room. In 1879, the caricaturist painter André Gill painted a sign with a rabbit leaping out of a saucepan which was hung on the side of the building. The place
became known as Le Lapin à Gill (Gill’s Rabbit) which morphed into its current name Au Lapin Agile.
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Yves Mathieu, 93, has been the owner of the cabaret since 1972. As you enter the place, you are met by Yves’ son, Frédéric, standing behind the counter where you pay 35 Euros for the night (start: 21h00, end: 1h00). It is a magical night as you walk through a burdundy portière (hanging curtain) over the doorless entrance to the same small room, blackened by the smoke from the fireplace and candles. that then-impoverished artistic greats like Pablo Picasso, Maurice Utrillo, and Guillaume Apollinaire congregated for boisterous, boozy evenings of lively French chansons in the early days of the 20th century when the village-like quartier boasted some of the cheapest rents in the city. Edith Piaf performed here in the late 1930s before she became a celebrity, and rumor has it that Utrillo was so attached to the place that he requested to be buried right next to it in the adjacent Cimetière Saint-Vincent.
There’s an old upright piano against the same wall as the portière. Performers sing old French songs without a microphone, as is tradition at the Lapin Agile, to an audience of around sixty people, packed in shoulder-to-shoulder in this intimate environment. There’s an eclectic collection of artworks covering the walls. Long wooden benches fill up around the perimeter walls. Bench-like wooden stools surround a few wooden rectangle tables that dot the room. Once all seated, you are brought the made-in-house standard drink of fortified wine with a few cherries in a small glass. There’s no air conditioning, and you can practically see the sweat beading on the five or six singers’ brows as they are seated around the one table not too far from the piano. I see between 50 and 60 shows a year, and so I did find this show too long. Some in attendance did start leaving just after 23h00 with more leaving around 23h00. The only song I sang along was Alouette, an old French nursery rhyme very popular in France and Canada. I remembered this song from my childhood. Edith Piaf’s La Vie En Rose was also performed. Here are two videos that I recorded at the cabaret.
Le Temps Des Fleurs (Dalida cover)
Fréderic, the owner’s son playing the music box to end the night.
Friday, June 17, 2022
Macron: We will win! We will win!
Zelenski: Thank you for those words of encouragement.
Macron: I’m not talking about you.
Friday morning started with a Café Expresso and a croissant around 7h30 at Le Clignancourt, a brasserie with a terrace opposite of the Porte de Clignancourt metro station (Ligne 4) just up the street from my hotel. There was a newspaper kiosk just a few steps away on the corner street. I must have waited until 8h30 for it to open so that I can get my copy of Le Parisien.
The Lion of Belfort statue was built in memory of Colonel Denfert-Rochereau, defender of Belfort during the Franco-Prussian War. Sculpted by Fréderic Bartholdi (1834-1904), best known for designing the Statue of Liberty, he exhibited a plaster model at the Paris Salon Exhibitions of 1878. The model was then purchased by the city of Paris. The two ton copper statue is four meters high by seven meters long. A bronze medallion with the effigy of the colonel was added in 1920. The current medallion is a substitution dating from 1979. The Lion of Belfort statue was inaugurated in 1880.
Les Catacombes de Paris
I had booked a guided tour of the Catacombs. This semi-private tour for 13:30 was with a small group of eight people. I did my best to try and book a french-speaking tour, but could not for this one. Our female guide, originally from Florida, was excellent. She moved to Paris about 40 years ago. She was with Memories France, a local operator based in Paris. In our small group, there was a couple from Denver. There was even another Canuck in the group which was welcomed. She was from Quebec. She laughed when I joked to her in french that I tried to book a french-speaking tour because I didn’t want to be translating for other tourists. We both laughed. Actually, I wanted to immerse myself in French and avoid speaking any English.
I arrived early enough that I could go for a cold one across the street before going several six feet unders. I do have a funny story tell about my beer order, and it will be told later while at le Musée d’Orsay. One other funny story from Le Café du Rendez-Vous was of this couple from the U.S.A. sitting next to me, probably in their late forties or early fifties. They call over the young female server to their table. It looked like they had a quarter left of their crêpes on their plates. English sentences don’t translate at all in the head of the majority of the French and so I’m laughing in my head when I heard the American male tell the server “these are not very good.” His wife had Nutella with hers while the husband had jam with his. Poor Suzette, she did not understand what he was complaining about. It wouldn’t surpprise me if the couple Google translated Crêpes from the menu and voilà, he must have said chérie, how about we have pancakes. I did not see an image of thick buttermilk pancakes inside a cartoon thought bubble above his head. Growing up, I knew the difference between one crêpe and and the next crêpe, plus they totally taste different. I would love to read his comments on Tripadvisor.
The Catacombes de Paris, the Parisian ossuary covers 11,000 m² of underground space where the bones of the remains of six million Parisians from various Parisian cemeteries rest in the 1.7 km labyrinth of tunnels. The height of the passages is 1.8 m and the temperature is around 14 degrees.
The parts of the Catacombes de Paris which are accessible to the public remain manicured, curated, and easy to navigate. A little less than two miles are marked with helpful signs that are visited by tourists every day.
A number of notable people likely had their bones transferred to the Catacombs. The list includes writers Jean de La Fontaine (Fables) and Charles Perrault (Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Puss in Boots, Sleeping Beauty, and Bluebeard), painter Simon Vouet (Baroque style of painting), and architect Salomon de Brosse (Luxembourg Palace). During the Revolution, people were buried directly in the Catacombs. Guillotine victims ended up there, too, including the likes of Maximilien Robespierre, Antoine Lavoisier, and Georges Danton, all beheaded in 1794.
There’s a secretive community of street artists, history buffs and other Parisians, known as cataphiles, who regularly prowl the subterranean network. The bulk of the network — more than 170 miles of tunnels and other chambers — has been off-limits to legal passage since 1955 and is a legacy of early quarrying in Paris. That is where the cataphiles roam. They’ve mapped and memorized hundreds of entry points.
From the street level to the Catacombs, visitors descend through a series of rocky strata that date from about 45 million years ago. During that geological era, Paris and the surrounding area were covered by a tropical sea. Several meters of sediment and mud accumulated at the bottom of this sea and became limestone over time. The level of the Catacombs corresponds to this limestone layer, which represents the period known as “Lutetian”, in reference to Lutetia, the name of Paris in Roman times. From 40 to 48 million years old on the geological scale, this bank ranges between the upper, middle and lower Lutetian. The quarries occupied the upper and middle levels, while a well nicknamed “bain de pieds des carriers” (Quarriers’ Footbath) in the center of the circuit descends all the way to the lower level. This precise site, where the bank strata have been identified and described, has become an international reference for geological strata.
photo on left – Quarrymen extracting Lutetian limestone from an underground quarry at Bagneux in 1906. The difficult conditions were the cause of many accidents. Ceiling height was about 1.5 metres (5 feet), it was dimly lit, cold, damp, and there was a constant risk of injury or being crushed.
photo on right – The blocks of stones were cut up in the quarry before being hauled to the surface in a special shaft. The deeper quarries reached a depth of 30 metres. (98.4 feet)
All along the underground route are engraved inscriptions of this type: 5.J.1847, meaning that this pillar was the fifth of a series executed in 1847 under the orders of Juncher, Inspector General of Quarries from 1842 to 1851.
There are old tool marks on the ceiling made by the kevel hammer. These marks were made when the ossuary was opened to the public. There’s a black mark on the quarry ceiling which allowed 19th century visitors to get their bearings in the galleries.
A quarryman named François Décure, working between 1777 and 1782, sculpted an alter used for the blessing of the bones and also a footbath
for the workers. Prior to his work below Paris, however, he had served in Louis XV’s armies during the Seven Years War (1756-1763) and had
been held captive by the English at the Port-Mahon fortress located in the major city of the Spanish island of Menorca. But within a small
room off the tunnel now known as the Port-Mahon corridor, he also spent five years secretly carving a small group of sculptures, doing so
during lunch breaks and after or before his work shifts. He worked with the simple tools of his quarryman’s trade, lighting his work with
The Port-Mahon corridor is so named because of Décure’s sculpture depicting that fort. There are also sculptures depicting Port Phillipe
and the Quartier de Cazerne, the most detailed of the three. The depictions were carved from memory, and reflect considerable artistic license.
Yet they are fairly complex – the port city, for example, is roughly 40 feet long, and built perfectly so that the natural water that pools within the catacombs comes up to the correct level at the edge of the city. There are both bas-relief and protruding elements in each of these sculptures.
Décure was crushed during a cave-in that occurred while he was carving a separate stairway that would have allowed easier access to his sculptures
from street level.
There were four inspectors who worked for 15 years on the service reconstruction, and also on the reconstitution of the quarries Atlas, which were done with the help of De Fourçy. These four inspectors were: Descottes (1872-1875), Tournaire (1875-1878), Gentil (1878-1879), and Roger (1879-1885). One of them was very friendly.
They did lots of work in the south of Paris, essentially bourrages of search galleries. Roger also worked in le 15ième arrondissement and under Montsouris where some of his classification slabs can be found.
This work started in 1777 by Décure (known as Beauséjour), veteran of his Majesty, and finished in 1782.
Named bain de pied des carriers (quarrymen’s footbath), this well was an initiatory place for quarrymen and more recently for students graduating from the Ecole des Mines that get themselves baptized in this fountain, whose water is so pure that one can soak one’s feet involuntarily if one does not pay attention. This water flushes from the ground water and previously allowed to measure the variations in the water’s height, as well as draw water for the surrounding working sites around.
Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la Mort
The entrance to the ossuary bears a haunting inscription, which can be translated to ‘Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead’.
Catacombs established by order of Mr. Thiroux de Crosne, Lieutenant General of Police, by the care of Mr. Charles Axel Guillaumot, Inspector General of Quarries, in 1786. Restored and enlarged by order of M. le Comte Frochot, State Councilor, Prefect of the Department of the Seine, by M. Hericart de Thury, Chief Engineer of Mines, Inspector General des Carrières in 1810.
In 2006, more than 200 skeletons were discovered in mass graves unearthed under
a Monoprix Réaumur-Sébastopol on boulevard de Sébastopol (2ième arrondissement). Under the Félix-Potin building once stood the cemetery of the Trinity Hospital, founded in the 12th century but destroyed at the end of the 18th century.
Eight mass graves were discovered and one thing seems certain: the deceased died en masse.
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left – Bones collected under the pavement of the church of St. Nicholas des Champs,
deposited in 1859 in the western ossuary and transferred to the catacombs in September 1859.
middle – Bones of the Trinity Hospital on St. Denis and Grenata streets, January 6, 1814.
right – Where is death? Always future or past. Hardly is she present than already gone.
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left – The Crypt of the Sepulchral Lamp, the first made in the ossuary, was used to burn pitch resin as the air was gradually corrupted by the deposits of bones, which made it difficult for the workers in charge of the transfers to breathe. Maintaining a hearth was indeed the best way to ensure ventilation during underground work. It was thus used to watch over the dead, and more commonly to improve air circulation, before the construction of ventilation shafts.
middle – Plaque commemorating the Insurrection of 10 August 1792 during the French Revolution, when armed revolutionaries in Paris, increasingly in conflict with the French monarchy, stormed the Tuileries Palace. The conflict led France to abolish the monarchy and establish a republic. Many of those killed in this event had been buried directly in the Catacombs.
D.M. (Latin: Dis manibus, English: to the spirits of the dead)
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This 2-hour tour that included access to parts of the Catacombs closed to the general public was incredibly fascinating.
Now, I was off to another cemetary, le cimetière du Sud, commonly called le Cimetière du Monparnasse which opened its doors on July 25, 1824. It was a 6-minute walk from Caracombs, along rue Froidevaux.
The street is named after lieutenant-colonel of the Paris firefighters, François Xavier Eugène Froidevaux (1827-1882), who died in a huge fire in a household utensil factory located at 63 boulevard de Charonne in Paris. He is buried in the Montparnasse cemetery.
Good thing I did not need a haircut. I had a choice between Jules or Giulia. Don’t know who would have made the cut.
Cimetière du Monparnasse
Born: November 29, 1932, Paris, France
Died: September 26, 2019, Paris, France
A towering figure in French politics for five decades, Jacques Chirac will be remembered for his opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, his pragmatic statesmanship and his advocacy of the European Union.
In 2011, the former French president was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of embezzling public funds while he was mayor of Paris.
Born: April 2, 1928, Paris, France
Died: March 2, 1991, Paris, France
Serge Gainsbourg, France’s most adored singer-songwriter, lover of Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot, was born Lucien Ginsburg in Paris in 1928. When he started writing songs and performing in clubs, Lucien Ginsburg changed his name to Serge Gainsbourg because he wanted something more punchy and artistic and ‘Lucien’ reminded him of a gentleman’s hairdresser. Gainsbourg was a classically trained musician who earned his living playing piano in cabarets and casinos. He showed talent as a painter and attended the Académie des Beaux-Arts, but eventually realized he had to earn a living. He started to write successful songs for others and then, later, himself. He wrote and directed 4 movies and acted in 29. He became really famous at 40 with the orgasmic Je T’Aime . . . Moi Non Plus, then even more so with songs that ranged from lush and romantic melodies to Surrealist poetry to caustic and dark concept albums.
Born October 23, 1817, Toucy, France
Died January 3, 1875, Paris, France
Pierre Larousse was a French grammarian, lexicographer, and encyclopaedist. He published many of the outstanding educational and reference works of 19th-century France, including the 15 volume Grand dictionnaire universel du XIXe siècle.
The Larousse dictionary was what we used in school.
The mythical couple of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre are simply two unmissable Parisian figures, prominent existentialist thinkers who were both born and died in the capital city. They paced the cafés and streets of the left bank. A square located in front of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés church bears the name “Sartre-Beauvoir”.
Sartre died in 1980, almost blind. 50,000 people were present to accompany him to his last resting place in the Montparnasse cemetery. Beauvoir joined him 6 years later.
André Citroën founded the Citroën automobile company in 1919, and was the first European to produce cars on an assembly line. It is reputed that the young André was inspired by the works of Jules Verne and had seen the construction of the Eiffel Tower for the World Exhibition, making him want to become an engineer.
Graduating from the École Polytechnique in 1900, he visited Poland, the birthland of his mother, who had recently died. During that holiday he saw a carpenter working on a set of gears with a fish-bone structure and learned the principle of power transmission via angled gearing. These gears were less noisy and more efficient. Citroën bought the patent for very little money. Shortly thereafter, he began the production of angle-toothed and spiral-helical gears and reduction gears for automobiles in the form of double angles – or “double chevrons”, the basis on the company’s logo that still exists today.
Born May 22, 1841, Bordeaux, France
Died February 9, 1909, Paris, France
Prolific French poet, playwright, and novelist, most noted for his association with the Parnassians, a group of French poets who advocated a controlled, formal art for art’s sake in reaction to the formlessness of Romanticism.
Born March 29, 1838, Le Mesnil-Lieubray, France
Died March 18, 1915, Paris, France
Charles-Joseph Pigeon and his wife Marie. She is stretched out and he is half-lying on his left, turned towards her leaning on one elbow, a pencil in his right hand, a half-open notebook in his left hand and having the revelation of what was to become his invention.
At the end of the 19th century, lighting came mainly from kerosene lamps and candles. Charles Pigeon, owner in Paris of a business selling, maintaining and repairing light fixtures, decided to manufacture mineral oil lamps. They were previously considered dangerous since they ignited and exploded. However, he discovered a technical process that eliminated these risks and filed a patent on June 9, 1884 before investing to equip his workshops. Sure of his product, he undertakes to offer a good sum of money to whoever manages to blow up his lamp. Success is there
and a new factory is built on rue Montgolfier in Paris. The Pigeon lamp was officially presented and displayed at the Universal Exhibition of 1900. In 1902, eight million lamps were manufactured.
The company Les Établissements Pigeon took over and continued to produce lamps and stoves until its legal liquidation in December 1960. The brand was taken over by the Navarre factories in Évreux, which closed in 2004.
Ernestine Davidoff / Ernestine Dem (DEM is an acronym from the initials of her surname, first name, and first name of her spouse Marc Wolfson). She was a ceramist, sculptor. She lived here from 1920 until 1942. She was arrested on July 16, 1942. She disappeared at Auschwitz.
This commemorative plaque is affixed to the building at 272, boulevard Raspail not too far from le Cimetière du Monparnasse.
My friday night would end at Le Courlis, another great brasserie restaurant (14ième) that I highly recommend. The menu is written on a chalkboard and everything is faite maison (homemade). I tried my best in avoiding crowded places or places that looked touristy. I only saw the one chalkboard in the distance. The ownner who worked the bar inside the restaurant came to my table to greet me. When I asked him if he had a menu, he told me he did. He had a smile on his face and so did I when he brought the à la carte menu to my table. His son was the server. Father and son were super nice. I talked to both, and the son who looked quite young (he was in his thirties) told me this was a family business. I believe his mother was in the kitchen. This conversation came about from asking the server if he was the lone server.
Poulet de ferme and frites maison. Miam! I also love that meals are served with slices of baguette. Like croissants and butter, Dijon mustard is a big deal in France. In every traditional bistro you will find Dijon mustard in the regular company of the salt and pepper. Dijon is great with fries. Note: 80% of mustard seeds are imported from Canada. For dessert, I wanted something light, and ordered crêpes. I asked the server if he can add one scoop of vanilla ice cream. Miam!
Back at the hotel at 20h:39, the lady in red on BFM TV, a 24-hour rolling news and weather cable channel), was informing me that it was going to be really hot tomorrow. The word canicule was now part of my vocabulary.
Also all over the news was that one of France’s most distinguished actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant died at his home in southern France at the age of 91. In 1969 he won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance as a magistrate investigating the assassination of a Greek politician in Costa-Gavras’s political thriller “Z,” which also won the foreign-language Oscar that year.
Saturday, June 18, 2022
Frenchman: I did not vote on Sunday.
Macron and Mélenchon: Would you like to see us argue a little more to motivate you?
My morning routine continued as I walked to la Gare du Nord to pick up a copy of Le Parisien.
I noticed a commemorative plaque on one of the walls of la Gare du Nord. There are others.
La Gare du Nord, like the other Parisian train stations, was held until the last minute by the occupying troops. Its garrison, made up of Wehrmacht soldiers and Reichbahnof agents, would patrol the adjacent streets, and arrest passers-by and FFIs (French Forces of the Interior), and carry out summary executions. Until August 25, 1944 it was particularly dangerous to approach the station. Many were the victims.
André Dubois, aged 23, was a student peacekeeper who was arrested. He was carrying his service weapon, and was immediately shot against the wall of the station.
My morning routine continued with breakfast at Jules Jo. I’m old school, and so I’ve always enjoyed the relaxation of having breakfast with a coffee and a newspaper. It was a plus to have the whole restaurant to myself.
After breakfast, I was off to le Cimetière Père Lachaise which was a 35-minute métro ride on Ligne 12. I had pre-booked a 3-hour French guided tour for 14h:30 with Thierry Le Roi. I highly recommend this guide if you speak french. Thierry is an excellent guide who is organized, well prepared, and with a great sense of humour. I will be booking with him again when I return to Paris.
I was the only Canadian in the group. Everyone else was from other parts of France. Thierry made sure to announce that he had a French Canadian in the group from Vancouver, and so I acknowled this by raising my hand, and the group approved with clapping of hands. I talked to a few in the group, and laughed during this excellent tour. I believe two in the group were from Dijon and so one of them told me that 80% of mustard seeds used by the French are imported from Canada.
With the cemetary tour starting at 14h:30, this gave me pleenty of time to have some déjeuner (lunch) somewhere in the arrondissement (20ième). I’m happy that I discovered these great brasseries without the assistance of Trip Advisor. Looking at that website once back in Canada reassured me that my experience differed from the majority. I read too many negative comments, and most from people who do not speak french, and do not understand the French culture. Not one Frenchmen was rude with me. Je répète, pas un Parisien.
Le Café des Banques is another restaurant that I highly recommend. I had bavette d’aloyau grillée (grilled sirloin steak) with sauce au poivre (peppercorn sauce). I didn’t dine out at Michelin-starred restaurants, but can tell you that my dining experience was memorable. It is no surprise that in 2010, the French gastronomic meal and its rituals have been recognised as an intangible UNESCO cultural heritage.
After I ordered my meal, I saw someone from the kitchen wearing an apron run down la rue, Malte Brun (86 metres) and return with a basket of baguettes.
For dessert, I had Salade de fruits frais (fresh fruit salad). Delicious.
Cimetière du Père Lachaise
This hill, originally a Jesuit property outside Paris, was a vast site for rest and convalescence for this religious order, which was rich and powerful back then. Amongst the Jesuits residing there was a very important man, Père de la Chaise, who was father confessor of King Louis XIV for 34 years.
Père Lachaise (map) also known as the “East Cemetery” of Paris opened on May 21, 1804. There are more than 5,000 different species of tress spread over an area of 44 hectares, which makes the place the biggest green space in Paris. The cemetery has more than 70,000 graves.
Even the dead, it seems, cannot escape the rocketing property prices of Paris. Who can be buried in a Parisian cemetery? Anyone who is a Parisian resident, no matter where they died; anyone who dies in Paris, no matter where they live. Burial plots are 1 meter x 2 meters.
How do you make room, you ask? After 4 years and if there are no more descendants, then bodies are exhumed (bones placed in a box and placed in the ossuary which is closed to the public) and the plot is re-leased. Paris has the following plot lease agreements:
10 years costs 1,000 Euros
30 years costs 2,800 Euros
50 years costs 4,800 Euros
Perpetuity is 15,000 Euros
The last monument is that of an anonymous Lebanese Christian Family in the surveillance industry that bought a 48-ton Carrara marble for 1.5 million Euros.
While walking on this tour I talked to a few people from different parts of France, I talked with and laughed with two men who were from Dijon. One of them told me that 80% of mustard seeds come from Canada, something that I was not aware of. I also talked to a woman who was from Marseille. She told me that she had visited Quebec and Montreal. It happened to be her birthday on this day.
Le Cimetière des Innocents which dated from the 9th century and was the oldest cemetery in Paris was in the heart of the capital. Both the church and its cemetery were dedicated to the children killed in Judea by order of King Herod. The Cimetière des Innocents was decommissioned in 1780.
For sanitary reasons, the cemeteries inside the city walls, as le Cimetière des Innocents (today Place des Innocents – the bones that have been collected there have been transferred to the catacombs) were destroyed, and new necropolises built on the outskirts of the city.
With Père Lachaise opening in 1804, ten years later, there were only 2,000 registered burial plot concessions on the initial 17 hectares of the cemetary which was far from the city. How were they going to get people to be buried here? You bring in celebrities. The remains of both Mollière and LaFontaine were finally brought to Père Lachaise in 1817. Five years later, in 1822, 13,000 concessions were sold. In 1830, 33,000 concessions were sold. The marketing worked. Celebrities attract people, the last one being Gaspard Ulliel. More on him later.
Pyramids and obelisks are considered to be the very essence of an ancient Egyptian identity. Back in those days, there were catalogs of Neo-Egyptician monuments. The funeral world wanted these monuments and so they were being sold to people. Halfway thru the tour, our guide stopped in front of this one pyramid. This particular one dated back to 1990. The guide took out a tablet out of his used brown leather crossbody bag to show us a video of the time this monument was being built. This pyramid is empty. The retiree, Jean Louis Charles Saquet became an Egyptologist is still alive. The guide went on to tell the group what he was showing us on this video is what you see from 6,000 years ago in Egyptician tombs. Since the owner is not a Pharoah, there is no Egyptian cartouche, an ancient name plate that features Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. Except for the masonry and the pyramid, Jean Louis Charles Saquet worked on this on his own, taking him 5 years. It’s 2 meters deep. The enclosed space is there. The sarcophagus, a container that holds the coffin, weighs 5 tons and the cover weighs 1 ton. The owner will be embalmed and bandaged. On top of the sarcophagus, there will be 365 amulets; one for each day of the year.
Born on July 10, 1871
Died on November 18, 1922
Marcel Proust’s mother was Jewish, but he was baptised Catholic.
In his seven-volume autobiography, À la recherche du temps perdu (1908-1922), Marcel Proust pours out with a keen sense of narcissism (and dramatization) the procrastination of idle life, rich in anecdotal detail, aesthetic considerations and worldly relationships. Probably homosexual, he never recovered from the loss of his friend Albertine, whom he intended to marry. On his deathbed, Marcel Proust receives a visit from his brother Robert, a well-known and respected doctor. Marcel, who had asthma, died at the age of 51 on November 18, 1922. This year marks the centenary of his death.
Baron Félix de Beaujour
Born on December 28, 1765
Died on July 1, 1836
The French diplomat and historian, Baron Félix de Beaujour studied at Aix-en-Provence and Paris, joined the diplomatic service and served as French consul-general in Greece in 1794, in Washington in 1804-1811 and in Smyrna [Izmir] in 1816. His description of Albania, published in the two-volume book “Voyage militaire dans l’Empire Othoman” (Military Journey through the Ottoman Empire), Paris 1829, is primarily geographical, with an eye to military issues, but he also mentions the people of the country.
This monument is 21 metres high and you can see the top of it from other places in Paris.
Fun fact: The architect of this chimney-shaped tower monument, the highest in the cemetery, is François Alexis Cendrier. The translation of cendrier to English is ashtray.
Honoré de Balzac
Born on May 20, 1799, Tours, France
Died on August 18, 1850, Paris, France
On April 28, 1838, Balzac and fifty writers, including Victor Hugo, George Sand, Théophile Gautier and Alexandre Dumas, met with Louis Desnoyers, director of the famous newspaper Le Siècle. Together, they drew up the statutes of the Society of People of Letters (SGDL). The social reason for this unprecedented association? Defend the moral rights and the patrimonial and legal interests of the authors of the writing. Rights and interests of contemporaries, but also of future generations.
Born on April 26, 1798
Died on August 13, 1863
Eugène Delacroix was the most important of the French Romantic painters. Delacroix’s use of expressive brushstrokes and his study of the optical effects of colour profoundly shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement. A fine lithographer, Delacroix illustrated various works of William Shakespeare, the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, and the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Born on January 26, 1946
Died on January 2, 2016
In 1963, Michel Delpech released his debut hit “Anatole” on Disques Vogue. In 1964, Delpech met Roland Vincent, and a long singing songwriting partnership ensued, with Delpech being signed to Festival French record label.
In 1965, he took part in the music comedy Copains Clopant that had a six-month run and made him popular, particularly through his interpretation of “Chez Laurette. He was the opening act for Jacques Brel’s goodbye concert at the Paris Olympia. In 1967, he collaborated with Johnny Stark. In 1968, he won the Grand Prix du Disque award for Il y a des jours où on ferait mieux de rester au lit.
Delpech left Vogue to sign with Barclay Records. At the peak of his success, he recorded Wight Is Wight in tribute to the Isle of Wight Festival, a famous rock festival on the Isle of Wight that became his best known song. It sold over one million copies in Europe, and was awarded gold disc status.
Pour Un Flirt was a second smash hit. It charted in the French-speaking countries around the globe as well in the
Netherlands, and a version in German brought him charts success in West Germany, Austria and Switzerland. An English translation, Flirt, made the Top 20 in the UK.
Born on October 3, 1804
Died on March 31, 1869
Allan Kardec is the pen name of the French educator, translator, and author Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail. He is the the founder of Spiritism. With the teachings he received from higher spirits through various mediums, he wrote five books that would become the basis of the Spiritist Doctrine: The Spirits’ Book, The Mediums’ Book, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Heaven and Hell and The Genesis. He also left unpublished writings, which were collected 21 years after his death in the book Posthumous Works, and several other books of initiation to the doctrine which has not yet being translated to English. Rivail started using the pseudonym Allan Kardec many years later, when he got in contact with Spiritist phenomena.
Born on November 25, 1984
Died on January 19, 2022
La Tronche, France
Gaspard Ulliel was a French actor. He was known for having portrayed the young Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal Rising (2007), fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in the biopic Saint Laurent (2014), and for being the face of Chanel men’s fragrance Bleu de Chanel for twelve years.
On 18 January 2022, Ulliel was critically injured while skiing at the La Rosière resort in Savoie, France, when he collided with another skier at an intersection between two blue/intermediate slopes after turning left, presumably to join his friends on an adjoining slope, and suffered serious brain trauma. He died the following day at the age of 37.
Born on February 24, 1932
Died on January 26, 2019
The music of the composer, singer, arranger, conductor, jazz musician and producer Michel Legrand went on glowing long after many of the 250-odd films he had written soundtracks for had fallen by the wayside.
Legrand became obsessed with the music and life of Franz Schubert, and – with Nadia Boulanger among his teachers – won a raft of prizes on a variety of instruments at the Paris Conservatoire, which he began attending as a 10-year-old in 1942. But a 1947 Paris concert by the bebop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and his big band thrilled him with the sound of jazz.
But if some of the film vehicles for Legrand’s artistry were outlasted by his music, several became famous, including The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and Norman Jewison’s The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), with Noel Harrison singing The Windmills of Your Mind, which won Legrand’s first Oscar, for best film theme song, in 1969. Another Oscar followed for The Summer of ’42 two years later – this time for best film music. Its theme, The Summer Knows, was recorded later that year by Barbra Streisand, whose 1983 film, Yentl, won him his third Oscar, again for best music.
Born on March 25, 1921
Died on September 30, 1985
Born Simone Henriette Charlotte Kaminker in Wiesbaden, Germany, she was the eldest of three children by André Kaminker, an Army officer and linguist, and his wife, Georgette Signoret. The family later moved to the Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, where Signoret learned and eventually taught English. As a young woman, she moved with an intellectual, politically informed crowd at the Café de Flore in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter that would have a profound influence on her own commitments to political and social causes. The German occupation of France in 1940 forced Signoret’s father, a Polish-Austrian Jew, to flee the country and join General Charles de Gaulle’s opposition in England. In need of a means to provide for her mother and younger brothers, Signoret began working as a movie extra. Billed with her mother’s maiden name to avoid Nazi scrutiny, she worked steadily in bit roles that frequently hinged on her earthy sensuality, dancers, call girls and the like. In 1944, she caught the attention of director Yves Allegrét, who cast her in her breakout film, Dédé d’Anvers (1948) as a prostitute in love with a young Italian soldier. He also became her first husband and father of her only child, future actress Catherine Allegrét. Their union would run its course by the release of their second screen collaboration, Manèges (The Cheat) (1950), but by then, Signoret had become a star in her own right. She had also forged what would become her most enduring personal relationship with actor Yves Montand, who became her second husband in 1950, as well as her most devoted supporter. The 1950s were the high point of Signoret’s career and personal life, but also one of her most turbulent decades. She became one of France’s most acclaimed actresses with a series of acclaimed portrayals of women in the grip of turbulent love affairs; in Jacques Becker’s Casque d’Or (1952), her underworld moll unwittingly launched a chain of violence in her attempt to seek a loving relationship, while Marcel Carné’s Thérèse Raquin (The Adulteress) (1953) put her at the center of a love triangle with a thoughtless husband (Jacques Duby) and a handsome truck driver (Raf Vallone). Her most enduring film from this period was undoubtedly Les Diaboliques (1955), a harrowing thriller from Henri-Georges Clouzot, with Signoret and Vera Clouzot as the mistress and wife, respectively, of a cruel schoolmaster who became the target of their complex murder scheme. The film’s success established Signoret as one of France’s biggest stars, and she parlayed her fame into drawing attention to various political causes. With Montand by her side, she openly voiced her opposition to Russia’s involvement in Hungary, the U.S. in Vietnam, and her own country in Algiers.
Born on October 16, 1854
Died on November 30, 1900
Oscar Wilde, Irish wit, poet, and dramatist whose reputation rests on his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), and on his comic masterpieces Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). He was a spokesman for the late 19th-century Aesthetic movement in England, which advocated art for art’s sake.
Oscar Wilde married Constance Lloyd in 1884 and had two sons in 1885 and 1886. After Oscar’s conviction and imprisonment for homosexual acts in May, 1895, she and the children fled to Switzerland to escape the backlash of his scandal, changing their surname to Holland, an ancestral family name already adopted by her brother, Otho, who was avoiding creditors after financial difficulties.
In 1908, Oscar Wilde’s literary executor Robert Ross chose Jacob Epstein for the commission of the tomb at a cost of two thousand pounds, which had been anonymously donated for this purpose. The monument began as a 20-tonne block of Hopton Wood stone in Derbyshire, England, unveiled to the London press in June 1912. Epstein devised a vast winged figure, a messenger swiftly moving with vertical wings, giving the feeling of forward flight; the conception was purely symbolical, the conception of a poet as a messenger.
Oscar Wilde was originally buried at Bagneux before his remains were transferred to Père Lachaise.
A tradition developed whereby visitors would kiss the tomb after applying lipstick to their mouth, thereby leaving a “print” of their kiss. Lipstick contains animal fat, which sinks into the stone and causes permanent damage. Cleaning operations to remove the lipstick grease have caused the stone to become more porous. It is therefore even harder to clean in subsequent attempts, necessitating more drastic and surface-damaging procedures. In 2011, the creation of a glass barrier to make the monument ‘kiss-proof’ was begun. They completed the barrier in 2014. However, it only covers the lower half of the tomb.
Born on July 27, 1848
Died on January 10, 1870
It is an astonishing story that of Victor Noir, whose real name is Yvan Salmon, who was shot by Napoleon III’s cousin, Prince Pierre Bonaparte. Victor Noir, a journalist opposed to imperial power, has been the object of an irrational cult for more than fifty years. Or rather his recumbent figure, a bronze statue in his effigy, lying on his tombstone is particularly flattering.
Beneath the open frock coat and waistcoat, and the trousers worn high on the waist, a roundness pleasantness made this young man famous.
Urban superstition lent astonishing powers, pertaining to magic. “A fortune-teller claimed that by kissing Victor Noir’s lips and by slipping a flower into his hat, the women alone found a husband within the year“. A guide noted, “in the early morning, a woman was straddling the recumbent, holding on to her shoes”. Parisiennes passed on the word: by caressing Victor Noir’s penis, they became fertile.
Born on July 18, 1917
Cayenne, French Guiana
Died on February 13, 2008
Henri Salvador had set up his offices on the top two floors in 1958, then his apartment in 1962 and immediately afterwards his recording studio, first installed in the living room, then in a separate room.
Henri was the first French artist to have his own label, Rigolo, and his home studio. He wanted to be independent and create his music without constraints of money or time. Salvador lived at 6 Place Vendôme. It was his ivory tower, his refuge. There is a plaque on the building wall with his name on it, like Frédéric Chopin, who lived at 12.
Born on December 19, 1915
Died on October 10, 1963
Born Édith Giovanna Gassion in Paris, Édith immersed herself in the world of the arts and the stage from her earliest childhood. Her mother was an Italian singer and her father, a circus acrobat.
At only 15, the young teenager is already singing in Parisian cafés. But it is a chance meeting in the street that seals her fate.
Cabaret director Louis Leplée discovers her as she sings a song on a street corner. Under his tutelage, Édith was introduced to cabaret scenes and became the Môme Piaf.
Her funeral is absolutely grandiose. Thousands of people jostle through the streets of Paris to le Père-Lachaise where Edith Piaf finds her final resting place.
Born on August 12, 1737
Died on December 17, 1813
While the potato was becoming a part of European cooking ever since the Spaniards brought them to the continent in the mid-1500s, the French refused to accept the vegetable, referring to it as “hog feed” and believing that these tubers caused leprosy. In fact, the French Parliament officially banned potatoes in 1748.
Along came Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a French pharmacist who served as an army pharmacist during the Seven Years’ War between 1754 and 1763. It was during this time that the Prussians captured and imprisoned him, forcing him to eat potatoes as his prison rations.
Parmentier’s prison experience was transformational. He had eaten potatoes and survived — no leprosy or other diseases. When he was released at the end of the war, Parmentier returned to his studies in Paris. By 1772, his mission was to prove to the French that potatoes were delicious and good for you, and in that same year, the French government repealed the potato ban because of Parmentier’s pioneering work. In 1773, he even won an award from the Academy of Besancon for research that proved potatoes were a great source of nutrition for people suffering from dysentery.
Today, many French potato dishes are named for Parmentier. There is Hachis Parmentier, which is similar to shepherd’s pie with a mashed potato crust, and Potage Parmentier, which is potato and leek soup.
Born on January 15, 1622
Died on February 17, 1673
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright, actor, and poet, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the French language and world literature.
A true star of his time that knew how to portray with mischief in such human comedies, Molière became the tutelary figure of the theater. The best known and most performed French playwright in the world, it is said, the man was elevated to the rank of national hero in the 19th century, to the point of giving his nickname to the French language like English became that of Shakespeare, but also to theatrical awards, with these famous statuettes bearing his effigy.
Jean de La Fontaine
Born on July 8, 1621
Died on April 13, 1695
Today, Jean de La Fontaine is the best known of the French poets of the seventeenth century, and he was in his time, if not the most admired, at least the most read, in particular thanks to his Tales and his Fables. A dazzling stylist, he brought the fable, a minor genre before him, to a degree of accomplishment that remains unsurpassable. Moralist, and not moralizing, he takes a lucid look at power relations and human nature, without forgetting to please in order to instruct. No one reads the Fables rightly who does not read them with a smile—not only of amusement but also of complicity with the poet in the understanding of the human comedy and in the enjoyment of his art.
Born on September 26, 1791
Died on January 26, 1824
Théodore Géricault was born in Rouen to wealthy middle-class property owners, who moved to Paris when Géricault was about five years old. He was a poor student at the Lycée Impérial, indifferent to most subjects except drawing and classics. His father opposed his son’s decision to pursue artistic training. However, thanks to his uncle’s subterfuge and his mother’s bequest, in 1808 the boy secretly entered the studio of Carle Vernet (1758-1836), a painter of modern military and genre subjects that featured Géricault’s lifelong mania, horses; he officially acknowledged Vernet as his master two years later. In February 1811, Géricault entered the École des Beaux-Arts, listed instead as a student of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin (1774-1833). Within a few months, Géricault quit attending his master’s studio regularly, and turned to intensive study of the old masters on his own, copying paintings at the new Musée Napoléon (an early phase of the Louvre), until he was permanently expelled from the museum for assaulting a fellow student there in May 1812. He nonetheless competed regularly in the École competitions.
Before beginning the Raft of the Medusa Géricault had been consumed by the story of the murder of a government official, Fualdés. As much as the Fualdés murder and Medusa shipwreck were political events, they were also popular scandals and their stories were endlessly disseminated in newspapers and magazines — and the stories’ darker elements of murder, death and cannibalism inspired Géricault artistically.
Gericault returned to Paris in December 1821 in declining health, which he aggravated by subsequent riding accidents. During those final years, the quantity of works he produced was small, but the power of the finished paintings–the ten portraits of the insane and the Lime Kiln–was compelling. Bedridden for most of 1823, he began studies for two projected modern history paintings, African Slave Trade and Opening of the Doors of the Inquisition. He died in January 1824. That autumn, after repeatedly failing while Gericault was alive, the director of the Louvre, le Comte de Forbin, finally was authorized to buy Raft of the Medusa for the museum.
Born on December 1, 1947
Died on March 14, 2009
Alain Bashung was a French singer, songwriter and actor. Credited with reviving the French chanson in “a time of French musical turmoil”, he is often regarded in his home country as the most important French rock musician after Serge Gainsbourg. He rose to prominence in the early 1980s with hit songs such as Gaby oh Gaby and Vertige de l’amour, and later had a string of hit records from the 1990s onward, such as Osez Joséphine, Ma petite entreprise and La nuit je mens. Bashung had an influence on many French artists, and is the most awarded artist in the Victoires de la Musique history with 12 awards obtained throughout his career. Bashung’s Play blessures (1982), Osez Joséphine (1991), and Fantaisie militaire (1998) have made multiple French lists of the greatest albums. L’Imprudence (2002) and Bleu pétrole (2008), the last two studio albums released during his lifetime, also garnered acclaim. Bashung died at 61 after a two-year fight with lung cancer.
Born on October 18, 1940
Died on April 6, 2018
Pioneer of French rock, singer Jacques Higelin was born into a working class household. Higelin grew up to the sound of the piano. As a child he enjoyed singing and learned the great popular songs of the period, by everyone from Maurice Chevalier to Charles Trenet, musical influences which were to persist throughout his musical career. Encouraged by his father, Higelin began little by little to sing in cinemas during the intervals.
He began attracting popular attention through his live concerts, typically held in smaller venues, and released his first solo album in 1971. In the same year he sung a version of The International at the celebration of the centenary of the Commune, the violent Nineteen century working class revolt in Paris. In this period many of Higelin’s songs were effectively blacklisted from French radio because of his controversial left wing political beliefs, and his association with socialist groups.
To celebrate François Mitterrand’s election victory in May 1981, Higelin gave a concert with the band Téléphone, in the centre of Paris, the ‘Place de la République’.
Born on December 8, 1943
Florida, United States
Died on July 3, 1971
Jim Morrison died on the weekend of the American national holiday of July 4th, and the United States embassy could not confirm his death until the 5th. Pamela Courson, long-term companion of Morrison, bought a concession at Père-Lachaise and Morrison was buried there discreetly on July 7th. There were only five people present, Morrison’s partner, his secretary, his friends Agnès Varda and Alain Ronay and the Door’s manager, Bill Siddons, who arrived from the United States. The ceremony was over in ten minutes. Only Pamela takes the floor to read one of her poems. She inherited from him in 1974, before also disappearing, from a fatal dose of drugs, at the age of 27, like her Jim.
At the center of the grave marker is a metal plaque, faded with time, bears the name of the poet and singer, the years of his birth and death, and the famous ancient Greek inscription kata ton daimona eautou (translated as true to his own spirit or true to his own demon, thus leaving it open to multiple interpretations).
Visitors often stick chewing gum on a nearby tree as a sign of independence and flouting of authority — hallmarks of Morrison’s life.
Born on December 28, 1962
Died on January 6, 1999
New York, United States
Michel Petrucciani lived as fast and intensely as his fingers ran on the keyboard, playing like others paint or box.
Petrucciani was born to Italian parents in Montpellier, France. He could not walk and his bones fractured constantly. He grew to only three feet tall and weighed barely 50 pounds. Petrucciani had to be carried on
to the stage and had a special attachment to use the sustaining pedal of the piano. Yet his long, graceful fingers played with a seemingly tireless energy and verve.
Born on May 9, 1939
Died on April 18, 1988
Pierre Desproges was a French humorist renowned for his black humor, his non-conformism and his sense of the absurd. He was famous for his elaborate, eloquent and most of all, cutting jibes criticising anything and everything, best characterised by his satirical observation of the world: “On peut rire de tout, mais pas avec tout le monde” (“We can laugh about everything, but not with everyone”). Desproges
admitted himself that he made no significant achievements before the age of thirty. From 1967 to 1970, he worked as a life insurance salesman, opinion poll investigator, a lonely-hearts columnist, horse racing forecaster and a sales manager.
In 1987, doctors discovered he had inoperable lung cancer in an advanced stage, and his relatives, in agreement with the doctors, decided to hide the condition from him, so he could spend his final days quietly. He died in 1988, from a disease he had bitterly laughed at time and time again, often saying “I won’t have cancer: I’m against it”. His epitaph reads: “Pierre Desproges est mort d’un cancer, étonnant, non ?” (“Pierre Desproges died of cancer, astonishing, isn’t it?”)
Born on March 1, 1810
Żelazowa Wola, Poland
Died on October 17, 1849
Romantic composer par excellence, Frédéric Chopin was born in Poland in 1810 and then lived in Paris where he died of tuberculosis at the age of 39: a short life but an immense posterity. Even today, a few notes from his melancholic piano are enough to arouse great emotion in the listener. Chopin’s works are part of our lives without us even realizing it. An example ? The famous “funeral march” that accompanies the funerals of heads of state is taken from his sonata no. 2. Another? The hit “Lemon Incest” sung by Charlotte Gainsbourg is based on her study op. 10 no 3, which is also called “Sadness”. It is this work that the listeners of Radio Classique elected number one during the Piano Elections. Serge Gainsbourg, who revered Chopin, also remembered his prelude No. 4 in his song “Jane B.”. The same one that inspired NTM for its track “That’s My People”. And Donna Summer’s disco hit “Could Be It Magic” covered in French by Alain Chamfort, the group Alliage and the Enfoirés? Chopin again with his prelude No. 20!
To end my day, I returned to Studio 28 at 21h00 for Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg’s long-awaited new film Les Crimes du Futur (Crimes of the Future) which premiered at Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2002 to a polarizing audience — one that saw dozens walk out midway through the premiere, and one that honoured the film with a seven-minute standing ovation.
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Macron: It’s been so hot … luckily, it’s going to go down today.
Mélanchon: What? Participation? Again?
My last petit déjeuner would be at la Brasserie Nord Sud which is located diagonally across from Jules Jo, better yet, le Nord Sud is north-west and le Jules Jo is south-east of Place Jules Joffrin. I would be back later that night for one last meal and lots of laughs.
After breakfast, I was off to le 7ième and 8ième arrondissents for a stroll and checking out stores along “the world’s most beautiful avenue”, Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This was the only day of my vacation that was overcast.
(left) Pont de la Concorde, a 153 meters long and 35 meters wide stone-arch bridge crossing la Seine at la Place de la Concorde. The bridge was built between 1787 and 1791 (architect Jean-Rodolphe Perronet), and freestone from the destruction of the Bastille fortress was used. The bridge consists of five arches carried by columns 3 meters in diameter. Le Pont de la Concorde connects Quai Anatole France and Quai d’Orsay on the left bank to Quai des Tuileries and Place de la Concorde on the right bank.
(right) Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor (background), formerly known as la passerelle Solférino, a footbridge over la Seine.
Assemblée Nationale – Palais Bourbon
The centre of parliamentary life, the Assemblée Nationale seats 577 members of parliament who represent the French people. It legislates and controls the actions of the government, adopting some 100 laws per year. The Palais Bourbon, finished in 1728, was built for the Duchess of Bourbon by architects Giardini, Aubert, and Gabriel. The structure therefore evokes that of the Grand Trianon de Versailles. It was then updated by the Prince of Condé between 1765 and 1789. Declared as ‘property of the people’ in 1791, the Palais Bourbon had many different uses and had a national representation from 1795 with the Council of Five Hundred. The colonnade on the façade dates back to the Napoleonic era. The building’s transformation continued throughout the 19th century, particularly with the help of painter, Delacroix. Today, the Palais also displays numerous works of contemporary art.
Statue of Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Colbert was a French statesman who served King Louis XIV during the 17th Century.
He earned the nickname “The Great Colbert” for economic reforms he put in place as France expanded its colonial empire overseas.
In the 1680s, he helped write the Code Noir on the orders of the king. It set out a number of regulations for French colonies in the Americas and the Caribbean, including banning Jewish people from all France’s colonies, defining how slavery would work, and restricting the freedoms of free black people.
In 2020, the statue was vandalised over slavery code. This was not the first French statue to be vandalised. In the northern city of Lille, protesters wrote the words “murderer” and “colonist” on the statue of Louis Faidherbe, a 19th Century governor of Senegal when it was a French colony.
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Henri Pilot was the son of Marc and Marie Bouchard, originally from La Ferté-Macé in Normandy. He was a law student and lived at 28 avenue Carnot, in Paris (17ième arr.). He was killed during the battles for the liberation of Paris on August 20, 1944, at the corner of boulevard Saint-Germain and rue De Bourgogne, in Paris (7ième arr.) and his body was transported to the Institute Medico-Legal, Place Mazas, in Paris’ 12ième arrondissement.
The monument erected in memory of Aristide Briand at the Quai d’Orsay, alongside the gates of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, was made possible through public donations and unveilled in 1937.
It is the work of architect Paul Bigot and two sculptors: Paul Landowski, who created the group in the foreground, and Henri Bouchard, who built the background.
It is made up of a group representing the Mother and Child, under the aegis of Peace. The lower section depicts the procession of Nations, led by France, listening to the mmessage of concilliation delivered by Briand. Above, a panarama portrays a number of rustic work scenes, symbolizing the future of humanity when war itself will finally be conquered.
Aristide Briand (1862-1932) was one of the foremost French Foreign Ministers of the 20th century, holding the position no less than seven times between 1915 and 1932.
Known as the “pilgrim of peace”, throughout his diplomatic career Aristide Briand continuouslly strived to bring about lasting peace in Europe.
“Arrière les canons, les mitrailleuses, les voiles de deuil | Place à l’arbitrage, à la concilation, à la paix!” (discours à la Société des Nations – 1- septembre 1926) “Away with the cannons, machine guns and mourning veils: instead, conciliation, arbitration, and peace!” (speech at the League of Nations, September 10, 1926)
He is remembered for the reconciliation policy between France and Germany after World War I, the earliest plans for “European Federal Unionn” and the “General Treaty for the Renunciation oof War” (Briand-Kellogg Pact), which was signed at the Quai d’Orsay on Auguat 27, 1928, was approved by 69 States and prohibited the use oof war.
In 1926, along with German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition oof a lifetime of diplomatic action for peace.
Do you want to practice your French?
Les bandes dessinées is what got me started reading in french.
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(1) She’s doing her best to hide.
(2) Pont Alexandre III is Paris’ most beautiful bridge with its decorative features. Who says the Gold Sector is out of favour?
(3) Since its creation in 1905, le Musée de l’Armée des Invalides has continued to enrich its collections, becoming one of the reference museums in Europe and around the world in terms of military history collections. To take an interest in the history of the collections of the Musée de l’Armée is to discover the History of France in a different way.
(4) “We shall never surrender” always reminds me of Supertramp’s first 2 to 3 minutes of Fool’s Overture, where you hear an excerpt of Churchill’s famous speech to Parliament in May 1940.
(5) Charles de Gaulle (1890-1978) was elected the first president of the Fifth Republic.
Il y a un pacte vingt fois séculaire entre la grandeur de la France et la liberté du monde.
(There is a pact of twenty centuries between the grandeur of France and the liberty of the world)
(6) Georges Clemenceau served as Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909 and again from 1917 until 1920.
Clemenceau was a long-time friend and supporter of the impressionist painter Claude Monet. He was instrumental in persuading Monet to have a cataract operation in 1923.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the world’s most beautiful avenue.
I had to check out the Longchamp store at Champs-Élysées to see if they had anything new. I had purchased my first Longchamp wallet at Italie Deux (shopping center) the first time I travelled to Paris in the summer of 2019.
Le Petit Palais was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, like its neighbour the Grand Palais, on avenue Winston Churchill. It became a museum in 1902. Designed by Charles Girault, it is based on a trapezium shape and is made up of four wings around a semi-circular garden bordered by a richly decorated peristyle.
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Bin ich in Deutschland? Hôtel de Beauharnais or Hôtel de Salm?
Hôtel de Beauharnais, the official residence of the German Ambassador to France. I was on my way to le Musée d’Orsay when I noticed this German flag. The residence is just 230 metres or a 3-minute walk up the street from the museum. Hope my German wife likes the photo.
The Hôtel de Salm has housed the seat of the Legion of Honor since 1804, when it was acquired by the Count de Lacépède, the first Grand Chancellor of the Order.
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Glad that I pre-purchased my ticket for le Musée d’Orsay. I was able to get 13h:00 for a time slot. Time slots do sell out fast.
Housed in a train station built for the 1900 World’s Fair, le Musée d’Orsay is known throughout the world for its rich collection of Impressionist paintings including masterpieces as iconic as the Bal au Moulin de la galette from Renoir or The room at Arles de Van Gogh. Its collections include works of architecture, decorative arts and photography in addition to traditional artistic fields (painting, sculpture, graphic arts). They thus draw a broad panorama of French and European art from 1848 to 1914.
Le Musée d’Orsay was once le Palais d’Orsay, built in the early 19th century. It served as a government building, but during the Paris Commune in 1871 the neighborhood was engulfed in flames and the ruins of the building represented the violence of the civil war. At the turn of the century, a railroad company commissioned Victor Laloux, the architect who had just finished the Hôtel de Ville, to transform the ruined Palais into the Gare d’Orsay, a train station that served most of southwestern Paris. The station served as a mailing center for prisoners of war during World War 2 and after liberation, a place to reunite with loved ones. Towards the end of the 20th century, the Gare d’Orsay was closed and the museum was born.
I spent two and a half hours here for the Impressionists. What an incredible museum. I was also planning on seeing the more than 24 paintings by Van Gogh on display, but was too tired. I will be returning.
Maximillien Luce (Paris 1858 – Paris 1941)
Une rue de Paris en mai 1871 (A Street in Paris in May)
Between 1903 and 1905 – Oil on canvas
Maximillien Luce, whose work and life were inextricably associated with his commitment to anarchism, painted this scene more than thirty years after an event in his youth which made a deep impression on him. It depicts Bloody Week (May 21-28 1871) and the brutal suppression of the Commune, a revolutionary movement with a very strong social agenda which advocated workers’ management of the City of Paris. This movement emerged from the political chaos after the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 which led to the fall of the Second Empire.
Georges Seuret (Paris 1859 – Paris 1891)
Le Cirque (Circus)
1890-1891 (Oil on canvas)
This work, which was incomplete when the artist died prematurely, was inpired by the hugely popular Fernando circus.This is a true Neo-Impressionist manifesto embodying the scientific theories of the era on the perception of colours and the psychologicall effect of directional lines. Colours are made as intensely bright as possible using optical mixing (creating shades using small dots of pure colour which are joined up by the viewer’s brain). The painter also sets up an opposition between the dynamic, curved and broken lines used for the performers and the static, horizontal and vertical lines oof the tiered seating and spectators. He takes the innovative step of allso painting the frame to create a harmonious overall effect.
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Port-en-Bessin, avant-port, marée haute (Harbour at Port-en-Bessin at High Tide)
1888 (Oil on canvas)
Every summer, Seuret would visit the Channel coast. This view of a harbour on the Normandy shore is surprising in its extreme simplicity. The sinuous coastline contrasts with the straight lines of the harbour walls annd horizon. The painter treats the houses and harbour walls as simple volumes and the boats in silhouette, excluding any human figures. The brushstrokes applied as tiny dots recreate the dazzling pale light in subtle shaded tones.
Étude pour une baignade à Asnières
1883 (Oil on wood)
Around 1879 (Oil on wood)
Étude pour un dimanche après-midi à l’île de la Grande Jatte
1884 (Oil on wood)
Ruines à Grandcamp1885 (Oil on wood)
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Le Petit paysan en bleu dit aussi Le Jockey
Around 1882 (Oil on canvas)
Seuret worked throughout the winter of 1886-1887 on the very large painting entitled Models (Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, USA). He wanted to prove to his critics that his technique could be used to paint nudes, a genre traditionally considered to be the pinnacle of artistic achievement. In order too rise to this challenge, he made a number of small-format studies. These studies belonged to Félix Fénéon, an art critic and friend of the painter, who had a special pocket made in his coat so that he could always keep them close.
Paul Signac (Paris 1863 – Paris 1935)
Le Démolisseur (The Demolition Worker)
Between 1897 and 1899 (Oil on canvas)
This work belongs to a series of large decorative panels on the theme of work envisaged by Signac. The Demolition Worker iis an allegory embodying the abstract idea of a new Golden Age in a modern, egalitarian and peaceful society. However, according to the painter’s anarchist beliefs, this new era would be achieved by applying “a hefty pickaxe blow to the social edifice” represented here by ruined former monuments.
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Entrée du port de La Rochelle (Entrance to the Port of La Rochelle)
1921 (Oil on canvas)
Signac was passionate about the sea and sailing and painted numerous views of French ports. This painting depicts La Rochelle with its famous medieval towers guarding the entrance to the harbour. The composition contrasts these vertical masses with the fluid swirls of the clouds and waves. This late
workk by the painter demonstrates his loyalty to Neo-Impressionism, whose theoretician and leading exponent he became after the death of Seurat.
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Les Andelys dit aussi La Berge
1886 (Oil on canvas)
Bords de rivière, la Seine à Herblay
1889 (oil on canvas)
Route de Gennevilliers dit aussi Faubourg de Paris
1883 (oil on canvas)
La Bouée rouge
1895 (Oil on canvas)
Femme à l’ombrelle (Woman with a Parasol
1893 (Oil on canvas)
This is a portrait of Berthe Roblès, the artist’s wife and a distant cousin of Camille Pissarro. Signac paints her face in pure profile without any sense of perspective and exploits the very sharp contrasts between complementary colours: yellow with purple, and orange-red with green. He adds a multitude of curves and swirls to create the folds of her sleeves, the edges off the parasol, and the flower. This stylised approach brings a decorative aspects to the work which has an affinity with Art Nouveau posters.
Femmes au puits
1892 (Oil on wood)
In 1893, Signac began work on “Au Temps d’Harmonie” (In the Time of Harmony), a large painting on the theme of an ideal society. He lifted the two figures of women drawing water from a well from his preparatory studies for this work and featured them in their own painting. This composition follows the principles of Neo-Impressionism to the letter by celebrating the contrasts between the primary colours yellow and blue and the complementary colours purple and yellow. The painter uses particularly vivid acid tones as it is a decorative panel designed to be displayed in low light.
Henri-Edmond Cross (Douai 1856 – Saint-Clair 1910)
Madame Hector France
1891 (Oil on canvas)
Irma Clare, the painter’s wife-to-be, is posing in an evening gown facing the viewer with an air of surprise more reminiscent of a snapshot. The composition draws discreetly on the art of the Japanese print. This can be detected in features such as the floral rhododendron motif and the row of fans, but more particularly inn the perspective, which is not typically European. The scene hhas two simultaneous points of view – a high-level view of the ground and a full-frontal view of the figure.
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Les Iles d’Or (The Golden Isles)
1891-1892 (Oil on canvas)
Henri-Edmond Cross was born Henri-Edmond-Joseph Delacroix. The pseudonym Cross was chosen by the painter to avoid unwelcome confusion with his illustrious predecessor, with whom he shared a taste for colour.
This French Riviera landscape offers a glimpse of the Hyères Islands which are “so beautiful that they are called the Golden Isles” according to Emile Verhaeren, a poet and friend of the artist. The different planes of sand, sea and sky are condensed into three coloured strips, whose colours blend in subtly shaded tones.
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Around 1892 (Oil on canvas)
L’Air du soir
Around 1893 (Oil on canvas)
Cross had been living in the South of France for two years, when he designed, at the instigation of Paul Signac, a work in homage to this region. For this large canvas, he transforms the neo-impressionist technique of small dots into a system of large rectangular strokes. In 1904, Henri Matisse saw this work at Signac in Saint-Tropez and was inspired by it to paint Luxe, calme et volupté. He quickly abandoned this technique in favor of a work in flat areas of bright colors that the critics would designate under the name of fauvism painting.
Around 1906 (Oil on canvas)
Charles Angrand (Criquetot-sur-Ouville 1854 – Rouen 1926)
Couple dans la rue
1887 (Oil on canvas)
Paul Cézanne (Aix-en-Provence 1839 – Aix-en-Provence 1906)
La Femme à la cefetière (Woman with a Coffee Pot)
Between 1890 and 1895 (Oil on canvas)
This rather strange portrait may depict a domestic servant at Le Jas Bouffant, the family property in Aix-en-Provence, as the painter shunned professional models who made him feel uncomfortable. The painting shows how far Cézanne had moved from Impressionism as it seems to demonstrate his desire to “treat nature by means of the cylinder, the sphere, and the cone”. This strongly geometrical approach is enhanced by the sense of imbalance created by two simultaneous points of view within the same picture – the full-frontal view of the figure and the high-angle view of the table.
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Rochers près des grottes au-dessus du Château-Noir
Around 1904 (Oil on canvas)
Circa 1890 (Oil on canvas)
From the 1870s until the end of his life, Cézanne produced a multitude of compositions featuring bathers both male and female. His aim was to achive a perfect fusion of the human figure and the landscape by using identical brushstrokes for the people and the scene. The painter stated at the time that he wanted to “make Impressionism solid and durable like art in museums”, effectively producing a type oof painting that would combine features of Impressionism with the art of the old masters he admired – Michelangelo, Veronese, and Poussin.
Nature morte aux oignons
1896-1898 (Oil on canvas)
Cour d’une ferme
Circa 1879 (Oil on canvas)
Portrait de l’artiste
Circa 1875 (Oil on canvas)
From the origins of the movement, the Impressionists affirmed their artistic individuality and their autonomy. This is even more true from the 1880s and the beginning of the 1890s. Renoir like Cézanne that binds a mutual friendship and admiration seek to “make impressionism something solid and lasting like the art of museums”, in the words of Cézanne. The observation of the model and of nature, which remains essential, is supplemented by emulation with the masters and translation. Cézanne and Renoir explore a reduced number of subjects from which they seek to bring out the timeless dimension. Cézanne deconstructs the rules of perspective and rearranges the patterns on the board, paving the way for Cubism in the early 20th century. At home, painting invents a “harmony parallel to nature”, a comforting vision aimed at “brightening the walls” added Renoir. What could be called the classic modernity of this latest research has nurtured artists like Matisse, Picasso, but also Denis, Bonnard or Maillol.
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Le Joueur de cartes
Between 1890 and 1892
Oil on canvas
1900 and 1904
Oil on canvas
Les Joueurs de cartes
Between 1890 and 1895
Oil on canvas
Pierre Auguste Renoir (Limoges 1841 – Cagnes-sur-Mer 1919)
Jeunes filles au piano (Young Girls at the Piano)
1892 (Oil on canvas))
In 1892, the French State placed a commission with Renoir through the intermediary of his friends the poet Stéphane Mallarmé and the art critic Roger Marx. This picture for the Musée du Luxembourg, which was the museum of living artists at that time, became the first work by an Impressionist to enter this museum. There are three other known completed versions, and a pastel. This reflects the painter’s fascination with the subject and his absolute insistence on achieving perfection in a work destined for the museum.
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Jeune fille assise
1909 (Oil on canvas)
La Toilette: femme se peignant
1907-1908 (Oil on canvas)
Gabrielle à la rose
1911 (Oil on canvas)
Grand nu, dit aussi Nu sur less coussins
1907 (Oil on canvas)
Circa 1913 (Oil on canvas)
Les Baigneuses (Bathers)
1918-1919 (Oil on canvas)
This is the most significant painting produced by Renoir in the closing years of his life. He asked his models to pose in the olive grove at Les Collettes, his home in Cagnes, near Nice. In subject matter and technique alike, it represents the culmination of his pictorial experiments and embodies his artistic legacy in some respects. For the artist, these fleshy bodies with their childlike expressions, in a luxuriant natural setting bathed in sunshine, represent a final dazzling celebration of life andd the pure pleasure of painting, seemingly undimmed by the appaling suffering he endured as a result of his arthritic condition.
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Pont du chemin de à Chatou, dit aussi Les Marronniers roses
1881 (Oil on canvas)
Julie Manet dit aussi L’Enfant au chat
1887 (Oil on canvas)
Maternité, dit aussi Madame Renoir et son fils Pierre
(Motherhood also known as Mrs Renoir and her son Pierre)
1885 (Oil on canvas)
In La Roche-sur-Yon, where Renoir spent the summer in 1885, he asked his partner Aline Charigot to pose for
him breastfeeding their son Pierre, who would become a famous actor. This was a period of self-doubt for the artist. He wanted to rework his art by introducing a strong graphic element. The drawing is actually visible through the paint at times. Renoir increasingly alluded too the old masters of the past whom he revered, in this case the Madonnas wwith Child oof Raphael, whose simplicity he admired.
Danse à la ville (City Dance)
Danse à la campagne (Country Dance)
1883 (Oil on canvas)
City Dance and Country Dance were designed as companion pieces. The artist exploits the contrast between the cold colour ppalette of the former and the bright red and yellow notes of the latter, and between the reserved attitude of the middle-class danncers and the very relaxed manner of the wwoorking-class dancers and the very relaxed manner of the working-class couple. In the early 1880s, Renoir’s style developed, leading him to depict human figures in a monumental way. His female model for the city painting is the painter Suzanne Velladon, and the models for the country version are the artist’s partner Aline Charigot and his friend, the dancer and journalist Paul Lhote.
Bal du moulin de la Galette (Dance at the Moulin de la Galette)
1876 (Oil on canvas)
Dance at the Moulin de la Gallette depicts the famous guinguette – an open air drinking establishment with food and dancing – located at the foot of a former windmill on the Butte de Montmartre. The dance is attended by workers, as well as Renoir’s artist and writer friends who mingle with the crowd. This is one of the artist’s
most ambitious paintings on account of its size, the number of figures, and in particular the play of shadows and dappled light which brings a sense of unity to the composition. The vigorously applied touches of colour are not bounded by drawn outlines. They blend together and create a sensation of movement. The painting was presented at the Impressionist Exhibition in 1877 and was hailed as a masterpiece when it entered the French national collections twenty years later.
1875 (Oil on canvas)
In this portrait, Monet is represented as being busily at work on a painting of his own, wearing his working frock and holding his colour palette and paint brushes.
He stands at a window, gazing up momentarily from his work, with the light from behind him illuminating his face – making this the central focus of the painting, with the deeper blue of his clothes serving as a counterbalance.
An oleander tree branch serves to frame the scene, and even perhaps to symbolically crown Monet as a titan of the then-nascent French Impressionist movement – a humorous nod of deference from Renoir to his colleague and friend, and likely representative of the relaxed, and yet productive relationship the two painters shared.
Claude Monet (Paris 1840 – Giverny 1926)
Les Rochers de Belle-Île, la côte sauvage
1886 (Oil on canvas)
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Le Mont Kolsaas en Norvège
1895 (Oil on canvas)
En norvégienne, dit aussi La barque à Giverny
Circa 1887 (Oil on canvas)
Meules, fin de l’été (Haystacks, End of Summer)
1891 (Oil on canvas)
Haystacks, which were commonplace in the countryside around the painter’s home inn Giverny, provided an outstanding motif for Monet’s experiments. With these haystacks, he launched a new style of work, a “series” of twenty-five paintings which allowed him to experiment with using colour to reproduce the infinitesimal variations in light in different seasons or at different times of day. In this painting, the haystacks are silhouetted against a
background of greens and blues as pale as a cold Normandy morning.
(Acquired with funds from an anonymous Canadian gift.)
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Tempête, côtes de Belle-Île
1886 (Oil on canvas)
Camille sur son lit de mort (Camille on her Death Bed)
1879 (Oil on canvas)
On September 5, 1879, Camille, Monet’s wife and the mother of his two sons, passed away. The poignant painting is a pictoial response to her death in which the artist tries to capture her in a final portrait “[…] finding myself at the bedside of a deceased person who was and still is very dear to me, I was surprised […] to catch myself in the act of mechanically observing the sequence of changing colours that death had just imposed on her rigid features.”
Cathédrales de Rouen (Rouen Cathedrals)
1892-1803 (Oil on canvas)
With the Rouen Cathedrals series, which was the successor to his Haystacks and Poplars, Monet pushes his experiments with variations in light to the brink of abstraction: the façade of the building fills almost the entire canvas. Each work becomes a fragment of the lacy stone tracery whose unusual features are captured by Monet in a multitude of different light conditions. Critics were astounded. “Reality is present and becomes transfigured,” wrote Gustave Geffroy.
(click on images to enlarge)
Falaise de Fécamp, dit aussi Falaise près de Dieppe
1897 (Oil on canvas)
Found in Germany after the Second World War and entrusted to the custody of the National Museums (national museums recovery), 1950
Nymphéas bleus (Blue Water Lilies)
1916-1919 (Oil on canvas)
At the end of his life, Monet produced hundreds of works featuring the pond which he created and planted on his Giverny property with the patience of a true gardener. This motif became the laboratory for a multitude of pictorial experiments in which the artist’s brushwork becomes increasingly loose, freeing himself from the accurate description of the shapes he observes. This cultimated in the Water Lilies cycle – a monumental work on display at the Musée de l’Orangerie – which influenced painters belonging to the Lyrical Abstraction movement in the United States after World War II.
Le Pont d’Argenteuil dit aussi Le Pont d’Argenteuil et les barques
1874 (Oil on canvas)
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Étretat: la plage et la porte d’Amont
1883 (Oil on canvas)
La Seine à Vétheuil, effet de soleil après la pluie, dit aussi Vétheuil, vu de Lavacourt
1879 (Oil on canvas)
Les Glaçons, dit aussi Débâcle sur la Seine
1880 (Oil on canvas)
Le Givre, effet de soleil
1880 (Oil on canvas)
Vétheuil, soleil couchant
Circa 1900 (Oil on canvas)
Effet de neige à Vétheuil, dit aussi Église de Vétheuil, neige
1878-1879 (Oil on canvas)
Intérieur d’appartement, dit aussi Un coin d’appartement
1875 (Oil on canvas)
Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass)
Between 1865 and 1866 (Oil on canvas)
These elegant figures picknicking in Fontainebleau forest are mmembers of Monet’s intimate circle – his partner,
Camille Doncieux, and his painter friends Bazille (in the pale suit), and Courbet. The young artist was attempting
to rival Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe and to create a stir at the 1866 Salon, but he never finished this huge composition. Unable to pay his rent, he offered the painting as security, however it was in such poor condition when he redeemed it that he cut it up to salvage the main section.
Armand Guillaumin (Paris 1841 – Orly 1927)
La Place Valhubert
Circa 1875 (Oil on canvas)
Édouard Manet (Paris 1832 – Paris 1883)
La Dame aux éventails
1873 (Oil on canvas)
Edgar Degas (Paris 1834 – Paris 1917)
La Femme à la potiche
1872 (Oil on canvas)
Estelle Musson (1843-1909), first cousin and sister-in-law of Degas, could be the model of this work painted in New Orleans, where her family lived.
L’Orchestre de l’Opéra
Circa 1870 (Oil on canvas)
The composer Chabrier dominates the pit where the cellist Pilet appears on the left, the tenor Pagans in the background, the painter Piot-Normand on the violin and the bassoonist Dihau (1833-1909) in the centre.
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Répétition d’un ballet sur la scène
1874 (oil on canvas)
Le Foyer de la danse à l’Opéra de la rue Le Peletier
1872 (Oil on canvas)
La destruction de l’Opéra de la rue Le Peletier en 1873 favorise l’achèvement de l’Opéra de Charles Garnier, inauguré en 1875.
La Classe de danse (The Dance Class)
Begun in 1873, finished in 1875-11876 (Oil on canvas)
Degas was a regular patron of cafés-concerts, and more particularly the Opéra located on the rue Le Peletier until 1873, and its successor, the Palais Garnier. He was enthralled by life behind the scenes in this world. Here, he depicts the daily reality of dance rehearsals supervised by ballet master Jules Perrot. The composition focuses perhaps more closely on the gestures of the resting dancers rather than those still working. The high viewpoint and receding lines of the parquet accentuate the importance of the floor in dance, and the presence of a watering can reveals that it was dampened to stop dancer’s feet from slipping.
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Circa 1890 (Oil on cannvas)
Course de gentlemen.
Avant le départ
1862, resumed in 1882 (Oil on cannvas)
Jockeys amateurs près d’une voiture
Between 1876 and 1887 (Oil on cannvas)
Le Défilé dit aussi Chevaux de courses devant les tribunes
1866-1868 (Oil on paper mounted on canvas)
Henri Fantin-Latour (Grenoble 1836 – Buré 1904)
Hommage à Delacroix
1864, Salon de 1864 (Oil on canvas)
1. Edmond Duranty (1833-1880), écrivain (writer)
2. Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), peintre (painter)
3. James Abbot McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), peintre (painter)
4. Jules Champfleury (1821-1884), écrivain (writer)
5. Édouard Manet (1832-1883), peintre (painter)
6. Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), poète (poet)
7. Louis Cordier (1823-?), peintre (painter)
8. Alphonse Legros (1837-1911)
9. Félix Bracquemond (1833-1914), peintre et graveur (painter and engraver)
10 Albert de Balleroy (1828-1873), peintre (painter)
View from the top floor.
The clock is 32 meters high.
I checked out the gift shop at the museum, and to my surpise, they were selling a 100th Anniversary Edition of Marcel Proust’s masterpiece, À la recherche du temps perdu. I picked up the last copy (2,400 pages).
I had a very interesting 15-20 minute conversation with a female Sales Associate at the gift shop. Even though I was born in Ontario, the French tell me that I have a Québécois accent. I guess it doesn’t matter where you’re from in Canada, we all the same accent. I tell this very nice lady of the odd experience I had prior to going to the Catacombes on Friday. “Est-ce que je peux avoir une bière s’il vous plaît?” (Can I have a beer please?), I asked the 20-some year old female server at le Café du Rendez-Vous. What I believed to be english was so terrible that I DID NOT UNDERSTAND ONE WORD that came out of her mouth. “Je parle français” (I’m talking french) I told her. I guess she did understand the french word bière because I helped her out with my index finger next to the beer name printed on the menu. I did not go into details (index finger) when recounting this story. The Sales Associate explained to me that the server was likely not from France, and that French was not her mother tongue. The Sales Associate then turned to the cashier next to us and asked her “Avez-vous compris son accent?” (Did you understand his accent?). The cashier (from Spain) shook her head.
After two and a half hours at a museum, I was tired and hungry. It was time for a gastronomic museum. Les Deux Musée is a great restaurant, and just across from le Musée d’Orsay.
When I saw Croque-Monsieur with salad on the menu, my mind was made up. I ate my first one in Pontoise on Tuesday at a bakery named La Marquise des Délices. I then had my second one at Le Ronsard Café where I had a nice view of Sacre-Coeur Basilica. On the first two occasions, these establishments make these sandwiches in advance and then they just heat them up.
My beverage of choice was a beer. For dessert, it was a delicious crème caramel, along with a café crème.
Le Croque-Monsieur is a hot sandwich made of 2 slices of buttered bread with the crusts removed, filled with thin slices of Gruyère cheese and a slice of lean ham. The croque-monsieur is lightly browned on both sides, either in a frying pan or under the grill (broiler). The top may be coated with a Gruyère béchamel sauce and cooked au gratin.
The first croque-monsieur was served in 1910 in a Parisian café on the Boulevard des Capucines. It is still a popular dish in cafés and snack bars, and is also served as an entrée.
The service was excllent. It was nice to chat with the older male server and have a few laughs. When I told him that I might see him the next time I was in Paris, he told me that he was near retiring soon. I coud tell from our conversation full of laughter that he was really looking forward to retirement.
With today being my last day in Paris, the evening would be spent with la Dame de fer. La tour Eiffel built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Exposition Universelle was to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the French Revolution. Its construction in 2 years, 2 months and 5 days was a veritable technical and architectural achievement. La Dame de fer never fails to impress. I had booked in advanced a “Skip the Line Access with Summit” tour with a small group for 21h:30, and so I had plenty of time to return to my hotel to drop off purchases I had made earlier before returning to le 7ième et 8ième Arrondissements to stroll around and take more photos.
Obélisque de Louxor
Granite column from the temple of Luxor, Egypt, installed here in 1836.
Move along, nothing to see here.
Wait a minute, wasn’t she over there just a few minutes ago?
What’s (s)he building in there?
What the hell is (s)he building in there?
Palais de Chaillot
Located on the Place du Trocadéro in le 16ième Arrondissement. Built in 1937 for the Universal Exhibition, it is made up of two neo-classical wings separated by a terrace leading to the Jardins du Trocadéro
Parc du Champ-de-Mars
Opened in 1780, the Parc du Champ-de-Mars extends from the École Militaire to the Eiffel Tower. A hotspot for national events, it offers the most beautiful view of the capital’s landmark monument. Parisians and tourists gather on its lawns to picnic, play music, and watch the Eiffel Tower’s twinkling lights at nightfall.
Stade Émile Anthoine
A stadium in the heart of Paris. It is part of the Centre Sportif Émile Anthoine in le 15ième. The sports center with a track and a swimming pool, on the Champ de Mars, in the Eiffel Tower district in Paris, bears his name.
Émile Anthoine (1882-1969) was a French race walker. In 1925, he founded the French Federation of Racewalking. In 1926, Anthoine also founded the International Walking Federation and the Paris-Strasbourg race.
Dôme des Invalides
Under the authority of Louis XIV, Architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart had the Royal Chapel of the Invalides built in 1677. The Dome remained the tallest building in Paris until the erection of the Eiffel Tower.
La dame de fer all dressed up for girls night out.
On my way home, I was going to drop in at Jules Jo but it was packed. No problem, I ate at Le Nord Sud, another brasserie just across the street. I did make it on time before their kitchen closed at 23:30.
I laughed out loud with Guillaume, the server, talking about his country’s national sport, and the upcoming World Cup, but also slipping in some hockey talk. The cabillaud (cod) fish and chips really hit the spot.
June 20, 2022
Macron: The only project that I will be able to carry out is not to name Mélenchon to Matignon.
During my stay in Paris, I was able to get some shopping done, the only shopping I enjoy, that of books and vinyl.
And so here we are on Monday morning and time to bid farewell to Paris and Montmartre. What a vacation.
I arrived at YVR in Vancouver 10 hours later, only to find out that my luggage was still in Paris. Merde!
Paris vous aime.