Saturday, 17 December 2011

Sab's Top Ten Paris Boat Symbols: No.9 ~ "Property Of"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Symbol Boat

Sab's Top Ten Paris Boat Symbols
No.9: "Property Of" ~ Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

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.

Sab's Top Ten Paris Boat Symbols
No.9 ~ "Property Of"

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 our good old Paris sailing boat.

I wasn't even expecting to see them here, thinking of the ones on the Pont Alexandre III and wondering if only a totally over the top bridge like that one would merit such fancy lamp posts. But no, it appears that the phenomenon is not limited to the most ornate of the Paris bridges. All that remains is for me to minutely examine every lamp post I meet on my Paris travels, as if I wasn't already up to my eyeballs in sightings of corner statues, drain covers, old shop signs, signs of war and the rest of my streetly obsessions.

The pic with one of these adorned lamp posts being attacked by seagulls looks east along the Seine. One bird will take up residence on top like the king of the castle until another approaches at high speed and scares the first off. I don't know if there's some sort of unsqualked pecking order, because if the gull in residence didn't budge I can hardly imagine the attacker actually  crashing into him. But anyway.

The other pic shows the splendid Hôtel de Ville in the background, and although you can't see it, there's a couple of ice rinks in front of it for the Christmas period. Well, that'll do for this time, I have a boat to catch.

Discover all my Paris boat symbols... 

* Sab Will runs Photo 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...

© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

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