The symbol of Paris is a boat. Strange, you might think, unless you think about it a little more.
Paris is a river-based city. That stretch of water has both brought invaders and protected it down the ages. The Paris area, taken as a whole, is purported to be Europe's busiest port.
The river Seine is synonymous with the city and the French capital would be unthinkably lessened without it.
The motto of Paris is 'Fluctuat nec mergitur', which means something along the lines of 'tossed by the waves but does not sink'. Which is metaphorically true enough. Paris has been invaded or under siege or simply revolutionised countless times, and yet has never suffered the whole scale destruction many other cities have.
The symbol of Paris is a boat, often depicted as being rocked on a restless sea. They might not be immediately obvious, but as soon as you become aware of the idea, as often happens, they suddenly start cropping up all over the place. This Paris Top 10 is devoted to the little, and sometimes not so little boats of Paris, in all their incarnations. As ever, if you find a wonderful one you haven't seen here, do tell me and I'll add it in.
'Twas a mirthless, mirky day, cloud covered and shadow-free, the day I took this shot.
The overcast conditions, therefore, didn't lend themselves to highlighting the full glory of this nevertheless glorious example, in red bricks if you please, of Paris' proud symbol. Only modern technology combined with my searing-edge sharpening skills prevent the photo on the right from coming across as a nebulous browny blob.
Although intricate detail here is necessarily lacking... Read more
Schools and swimming pools in and around the French capital seem to share the same penchant for nautical architecture and symbolism, including quite a few eye-catching Paris boat symbols.
This one, strolled past quite by chance, I really love. It's colourful, cheery and with a few simple lines both reproduces the city logo perfectly and gives you a real sense of a life on the ocean wave. Did there used to be oceans over Paris? I'll have to check.
Just like when you're thinking of buying a new car and you suddenly start seeing it everywhere, as soon as you tune in to the little Paris boat, there it is, and there, and there, and THERE!
Honestly, I don't want to spoil the suspense of my own series, but in one short walk down a street I saw this symbol on and advertising panel (shown here), a parking meter, a bike hire stand, a library, one of those big rotating Colonnes Morris columns (more ads) and a bunch of benches.
Grabbed from a cracked up iPhone in the fading light of a drizzly day in the Marais, the quality of these images isn't top, but you get the idea. The Paris logo is everywhere.
Here it's been incorporated into a house number, and beautifully done too. I've asked myself how you could get one of these things, it's so attractive and rare - the only one I've seen - but I haven't found out yet.
Maybe it's the hotel itself - well, it must be - which... Read more
You wouldn't think that the city would be so proud of its coat of arms that it would bother emblazoning them on something as banal and everyday as a lamp post. Or maybe they're worried that someone's going to steal one. But they are and they do.
Like a branded steed, some of the most visible of the city's lampadaires, such as these ones on the Petit Pont, leading to the Parvis de Notre Dame, bear the immutable mark of the city: a series of fleurs de lys, crowned by some castly crenelations and shored up by... Read more
This would make a marvellous quiz question. Where would you find this little metal plaque and what does it represent? I say this as my Paris fanatics' social group, Paris If You Please on Meet Up, just had our regular monthly Paris Quiz Night (all welcome!) and so my head is still reeling with all the questions I had to dream up a couple of days ago.
So do you have any ideas? And what about... Read more
* Sab Will runsPhoto and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...