All posts by Julien Anido

Nouvelle France garden

In a district where green spaces are scarce, and tourist attractions very numerous, the New France garden is a pleasant stopover, you can enjoy for example after visiting the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais or the Palais de la Découverte . A garden created in the 19th century, typical of the Haussmann era.

Located on the edge of Cours la Reine, created in the 17th century by Marie de Médicis, the New France garden goes rather unnoticed. However, it deserves to take a look, offering calm and greenery far from the tumult of the nearby Champs-Élysées.

Small bridge, lake, exotic vegetation and artificial decorations, it perfectly sums up the design of gardens in Paris in the second half of the 19th century, where French garden (order and symmetry) and English garden ( sinuous landscapes and picturesque viewpoints) were mixed

While strolling in the garden, you will also discover many beautiful trees: a negundo maple, a sugar maple (emblem of Canada, formerly called New France) or a weeping beech.

Among the ornaments, in addition to the statues of Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain, respectively discoverer of Canada and founder of the city of Quebec, you can admire the pretty “dream of the poet”, realized in a single block of white marble.

Why blue and red are the traditional colours of Paris ?

Vestige of heraldic times, the coats of arms represented a house, a family, or more generally all communities. If the floating boat sailing in the wind on the Seine is a well-known image of the Parisian flag, the meaning of the colors – blue and red – is much less so. Equally symbolic, they tell a part of Paris and its history.

The first official appearance of these colors

In 1358, in the midst of the Hundred Years War, King Jean le Bon was captured in Poitiers. His son, the future Charles V, cannot officially reign. The provost Etienne Marcel will then take advantage of this moment of wavering in the governance of the kingdom to lead a revolt against the power. His troops will be wearing a blue and red hood. It is the first time that these colors have been officially associated to Paris.

The meaning

Blue, an extremely expensive pigment, was a royal color. It is also the color of the Virgin Mary, for the same pecuniary reasons. A choice which therefore had no aesthetic value in its origin, but which was, for both royal and religious power, a way to show off its wealth.

The red, meanwhile, evoked the passion of Christ and the torture of martyrs. It is the color of the shed blood that cardinals still wear today.

By recovering these symbols, the blue and the red of Paris more concretely represented two great Parisian figures : Sainte Geneviève for the blue, patron saint of Paris, who prevented the invasion of the Huns and contributed to the conversion of Clovis. Saint Denis for the red, first bishop of Paris and beheaded martyr.

During the French Revolution, these colors were recovered, but their meanings changed (or forgotten …). To symbolize the revolt, the revolutionaries wore the Phrygian cap, inspired by the one which used to cap freed slaves of the Roman Empire after their liberation.

Colors still very present today, since it is the blue and the red of Paris which were associated with the white (symbolising the monarchy) to form the national flag of France on February 15, 1794.

Fun facts about the Opera Garnier

Symbol of the French Second Empire and the transformations that profoundly marked Paris during this period, the one that was called “the Paris Opera” until the birth of his little brother in Bastille in 1989 is today a key monument of the capital . A rich heritage of stories and anecdotes, which contribute to the reputation of this Parisian cultural center.

The attack against Napoléon III

A tragic fact is behind the birth of the opera Garnier. On January 14, 1858, Napoleon III went to the opera, then located rue Le Peletier, in the current 9th arrondissement. When his coach parks, several bomb explode, reaching horses and riders. If the imperial couple will recover unscathed, despite some scratches, there will be eight dead and several wounded in the attack perpetrated by an Italian revolutionary, Felice Orsini.

The next day, the Emperor decided to build a new opera, from which he could easily and safely go from his residence in the Tuileries.

Charles Garnier, the anonymous

In 1860 an international – and anonymous – competition was launched for the construction of the Imperial Academy of Music and Dance. 171 candidates answered the call, including the architect of the City of Paris, Rohault de Fleury, and Viollet-le-Duc. It was finally a 35-year-old unknown man, Charles Garnier, who won the competition.

The avenue de l’Opéra

To go to the Opera from his residence in the Tuileries, Napoleon III asked Haussmann to create the Avenue de l’Opera, which was not originally part of the plans.

Charles Garnier, thrilled that such a beautiful prospect enhances his monument, asked only one thing : no tree planted on the edges of the avenue, so that nothing could disturb the view of passersby! That’s why, even today, there are no trees on this avenue.

The lake of the opéra

If financial restrictions slow down the end of the project, it is also technical and unexpected constraints that undermined the architect. Indeed, during the excavations, he discovered a particularly unsuitable and marshy soil. Garnier incorporated a cistern into his design to redistribute the water and relieve the water pressure on the basement walls. It is today a reservoir for firefighters in Paris.

A secret masterpiece

The foundation stone of the opera was laid in 1862, but the work lasted more than 15 years, because of budget restrictions, the Franco-Prussian war and the Paris Commune.

During the works, scaffolding masked the facade of the opera to not betray the work of artists. A building considered by Garnier as a true work of art, which wanted to arouse the curiosity of Parisians by unveiling the facade in stages.

La Danse de Carpeaux scandal

In 1869, the carved groups of the facade are discovered. One of them, directed by Jean-Basptiste Carpeaux, representing women joyfully whirling around the genius of the Dance, causes a scandal. On the night of August 26-27, 1869, a bottle of ink has been thrown on it.

It is a copy that is visible today on the facade of the opera, the original work being exposed since 1986 to the Musée d’Orsay.

An ungrateful inauguration

On January 5, 1875, the Opera is inaugurated. Napoleon III, exiled to England and died in 1873, never saw the achievement of his work. The new government run by the very conservative Mac Mahon wanted to erase all traces of the Second Empire. Thus, for the inauguration, Charles Garnier has not even been invited, and had to pay his own place to participate in the show!

The fall of the chandelier

On May 20, 1896, 2000 people attended a performance of “Faust” when one of the chandelier fall and killed a spectator who… An episode that inspires – again – Gaston Leroux in one of the most famous episodes of the Phantom of the Opera.

The 17th century portal deserted in the heart of the Marais

Rue Beautreillis, in the 4th arrondissement, is one of those charming little streets that we cross everywhere in the Marais. Narrow, quiet, lined with small shops and elegant buildings, it has kept since 1965 a curiosity, which attracts the eye of all passers-by : an abandoned gate of a 17th century mansion.

A real curiosity to see if you walk in the Marais.

Only hint given to passers-by, the inscription “Hotel Jean-Louis Raoul” that can be hardly deciphered on the pediment. Manufacturer of files, Jean-Louis Raoul bought this mansion, built in the early 17th century for Paul Ardier, King Henry IV advisor, in 1810.

In 1959, a building permit allows the construction of 78 apartments in place of the Raoul Hotel. Part of it is destroyed, but the portal remains. Meanwhile, Albert Laprade, architect in charge of the Marais’ protection, asks for the conservation of the portal.

Ever since, nobody, neither the city hall, nor the family of Mr Raoul, want to pay for its maintenance…

The magnificent “Sgraffito” facade of the rue Mouffetard

In the 5th arrondissement, rue Mouffetard is one of the most charming historic streets of Paris. In addition to its pleasant shops, the street hides indeed some small treasures, including the magnificent “Sgraffito” facade of rue Mouffetard located at 134 rue.

If the building dates from the early 17th century, the fresco is more recent. Made between 1929 and 1931 by an Italian bricklayer, Adigheri, to decorate the facade of a butcher, the technique used is that of sgraffito, a technique widely used during the Renaissance period, that Art Nouveau has brought up to date at the beginning of the 20th century.

A decorative art you can find in some European cities influenced by Art Nouveau like Brussels or Prague, but unique Paris. This facade is since 1993 a historical monument.

What does this sumptuous sgraffito represent ?  Animals of course, and edible. Do not forget that it was originally intended for a butcher !

Pigs, deer, goats, game and poultry of all kinds, this facade is a real country walk, enriched with volutes, flowers and arabesques typical of Art Nouveau. A original work in the heart of historic Paris.

The funny origin of the names of districts of Paris (Champs-Élysées, Montorgueil, Montparnasse)

Contrary to what it may seem, the Parisian is teasing, and knows how to show self-mockery. It is indeed to make fun of his condition, or the vices of his environment, that he baptized certain districts of Paris. Neighborhoods today known throughout the world, which we do not suspect the original humor…

The Champs-Élysées

In Greek mythology, the kingdom of the dead (Greek Underworld) was divided into different gardens where souls lived according to their earthly life. The Champs-Elysees was a pleasant place, reserved for heroes and virtuous souls.

Created in 1674 by André le Nôtre to extend the Tuileries Garden, the Champs-Élysées was built in a swampy area outside Paris, crossed by a huge sewer. To make fun of this royal road laid out in an unsavory area, Parisians named it Champs-Elysees, eternal paradise!

Montparnasse

Another loan to Greece, since Mount Parnassus (Mont Parnasse in French) is a mythical mountain, dedicated to the god Apollo and his Muses, where the famous sanctuary of Delphi is located.

Apollon et les Muses, Andrea Appiani, Galerie d’Art Moderne de Milan

In the 17th century, students from the nearby Latin Quarter liked to be at the top of a small artificial hill in the south of the city, where sand and rubble were piling up, to recite poems. The hill then took the name of Mont Parnasse, not without irony, in reference to the sacred mountain.

Montorgueil

In the Middle Ages, the Rue Montorgueil, named after the 13th century, led to a hill made of litters. Its summit, which is located at the current rue de Beauregard (could be translated by “Looking-Good Street; hence the name…) was called Mont-Orgueilleux (Proud Mount).

Ironic again that this “Mount Orgueil”, one of the 7 deadly sins !

Exhibition Bacon Books and Paintings at the Centre Pompidou, the cultural event in Paris

From September 11 to January 20, 2020, the Pompidou Center will continue its reinterpretation the Centre Pompidou continues its re-examination of key 20th century works by devoting an exhibition to Francis Bacon.

Known for his distorted bodies and his expressive ,and sometimes, violent paintings, his art is deeply inspired by literature, from Nietzsche to Georges Bataille via Conrad or Michel Leiris. Influences that the exhibition highlights through texts drawn from the artist’s library, and which allow to understand the poetic universe that has always animated Francis Bacon.

An exhibition focused mainly on the relationship between the literary tastes of the artist and his painting, which particularly marked his works between the years 1971 (the pivotal period when the exhibition at the Grand Palace consecrates it internationally) and 192, date of his death .

Sixty paintings from the most important private and public collections, including 12 triptychs and a series of portraits and self-portraits, are presented in this exhibition. Undeniably one of the main cultural events of the return to Paris!