Friday, November 30, 2007
I took a little history walk today around my neighborhood in Paris. I wanted this walk to focus on walls and their history. It’s a strangely fascinating subject. I, of course, thought of you all in your little cubicles mumbling nasty things about your tyrannical bosses and thought I would share this walk through a little something I like to call “digital photography”. I don’t want to get too technical about how this works and I certain don’t want to fill you with fear—it is not magic or the “work of Satan”. It is simply a device I use to show “images” of some of the things I’ve seen. Don’t reach out and try to touch the walls that appear on your screen-no, no, no, they aren’t really there. They are only “images”.
I began the tour at the St. Paul Metro stop- this is one of the metros near our apartment- I actually prefer the Hotel Deville stop because I know, for a fact, it’s closer to our apartment- Kelly prefers the metro at St. Paul stop assuming, incorrectly, that it saves time. I have learned to pick my battles and remain silent- but to you, the reader,I must insist that the Hotel Deville Metro stop is closer to our apartment than the St. Paul Metro stop. There...now lets continue.
As you can see from the start of our tour there are young punks protesting…oh wait who cares- privileged kids bitching about something to do with school. The loud, bossy girl you see in the picture ran the protest. It is not a great way to start an historic walk about walls. But it does remind us how lucky we are to be out of high school.
We begin our walk close enough to the protesters that I can still hear their leader explaining which restaurant they should all meet in case they get separated. we are at the neighborhoods oldest surviving street, the rue du Prevot it’s original name was la rue de la Percee. Percee means to pierce Prevot was not in my dictionary- anyone? I'm guessing it's a proper name. Notice the "4" under Prevot- that lets us know that we are in the 4th Arrondisment- as you can see the old engraved street sign has a "12" underneath it- it had once been called the 12 quarter- this classification is no longer used. "Fascinating" you say? Yes, I know.
Rue du Figuier was named for a fig tree that stood in front of the Hotel de Sens this tree was cut down by Queen Margot, the exwife of Henry IV, because it got in the way of her carriages. It was built in the late 1400's and become home to Margot after she was booted from the royal court. Queen Margot led what was concsidered a very scadolous sex life although by today's standards it was probably just another Saturday night. She did, however, collect locks of hair from her many lovers and had wigs made from them. the hotel de Sens now houses the fine arts library- considerably less exciting. Notice in the center of the picture immediately above the window- there is a canon ball stuck in the wall (it just looks like a black dot- I'll try to get a better picture of it). There is an engraving in the wall giving the date of the canon ball as July 28 1830- during an uprising against Charles X-during a second revolution.
On the wall of a school across the street is more recent wall history. I don't know who Sean Hart is but he is sick of being put in your little boxes made of ticky tack.
Walking back there is a large open space for the local school to play soccer- the back drop of this site is a large wall with two turrets- this is part of the Philippe Auguste wall which enclosed the entire ancient city of Paris in 1190. To put it in perspective, Notre Dame was begun in 1100 and New Kids on the Block broke up in 1994.
Beyond the wall is a small street named rue Eginhard as you can see old engraved street sign that it had once been called Neuve St. Anastaze (new street St. Anastze?)-at the dead end of this street is a fountain dating from the time between Louis XIII and Louis XIV- around the mid 1600s.
A very small street that I’ve been down before dead ends into the St Paul- St Louis Church- I never noticed that you could enter the church this way. This is a gorgeous church. Facing the altar, on the right-hand side there is a column with graffiti on it- that faintly spells out ‘La Republique Francaise ou Mort’ this was written around 1793. During the Revolution the church as all churches in France were sacked and pillaged. Most became used for purposes other than their original design- for instance, Notre Dame became the Temple of Reason and the church in Carcassonne had iron rings installed on the pillars for horses- it had become a stable.
My tour was to continue but I became hungry and needed me a little nourishment so home I went with my mind on a sandwich. I loves me a good sammich.