Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges: No.3 ~ "Pont du Garigliano"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Bridges

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges
No.3: Most Artistic (Yet Ugliest) ~ Pont du Garigliano - Introduction
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

Forget your most beautiful, forget your most romantic (with one or two notable exceptions), here I offer you an alternative take on the age old problem: how not to end up writing unpalatable, purple prose-tinted, nauseating gush when talking about Paris and its good old Mère Seine.

The approach I’ve taken for my Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges may not be new, for all I know, and I've certainly seen another list or two of the Top Ten Paris bridges, but the angle taken, bless them, is invariably eulogistic. Homages to hurl to, if you will.

I wanted to try something different, so I took a bunch of Paris bridges with what I considered notable characteristics and ramped them up to the giddy heights of ‘most’.

Whence the list below, where I offer you the most artistic, the most pretentious (go on, guess before looking, I’m sure you’ll get it) and yes, I couldn’t resist, the most romantic bridges in Paris, to name but a few. So go ahead and get out there; maybe I'll cross you on the Seine one of these days.


Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges

No.3: Most Artistic (Yet Ugliest) Paris Bridge – Pont du Garigliano


Guess I'd better come clean - it's not the bridge itself which is artistic; the bridge is a horrendous lump of featureless green-painted scrap iron without the slightest artistic merit whatsoever. In fact, I couldn't remember why I hadn't done an 'ugliest' Paris bridge, but now I remember why: this one fits the bill admirably.

Which is probably the reason they chose it for what I'm about to tell you. Because the Pont du Garigliano, you see, possesses one unquestionably redeeming feature: slap-bang in the middle squats a remarkable work of art.

Clearly visible from Google Maps overhead satellite view and who knows, maybe from the International Space Station, a curious peachy-pink warty floral protrusion grabs our attention. From the bridge itself the effect of this colourfully flamboyant sculpture is, for me at least, quite magical.

I've always been attracted to nature's curves and twists, and almost all the more so when they're constructed out of materials which shouldn't be curving and twisting even in the most obscure of alternative worlds. To be honest it's simply what most sculptors have been doing for centuries, but this blossoming of gently undulating panels is pure poetry to these eyes.

And the intrigue doesn't stop there. Inside this piece is, of all things, an old telephone receiver. You can't call out, but a notice informs that the phone may ring at any given moment, dialed by the only person who has the number: the artist herself. I've never got the call but I'm still waiting in hope and anticipation. I'm working on a suitably artistic thing to say if it does ring on my shift. Given the context, 'Hello' seems somehow so terribly... weak. Any ideas?



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4) MOST PRETENTIOUS ~ 5) OLDEST ~ 6) SEXIEST
7) MOST EIFFELIST ~ 8) QUIRKIEST ~ 9) CUTEST
10) MOST ODDLY-NAMED ~ 11) UGLIEST
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* 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!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges: No.2 ~ "Le Pont des Arts"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Bridges

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

Forget your most beautiful, forget your most romantic (with one or two notable exceptions), here I offer you an alternative take on the age old problem: how not to end up writing unpalatable, purple prose-tinted, nauseating gush when talking about Paris and its good old Mère Seine.

The approach I’ve taken for my Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges may not be new, for all I know, and I've certainly seen another list or two of the Top Ten Paris bridges, but the angle taken, bless them, is invariably eulogistic. Homages to hurl to, if you will.

I wanted to try something different, so I took a bunch of Paris bridges with what I considered notable characteristics and ramped them up to the giddy heights of ‘most’.

Whence the list below, where I offer you the most artistic, the most pretentious (go on, guess before looking, I’m sure you’ll get it) and yes, I couldn’t resist, the most romantic bridges in Paris, to name but a few. So go ahead and get out there; maybe I'll cross you on the Seine one of these days.


Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges

No.2: Most Smooch-worthy Paris Bridge – Pont des Arts

OK, OK, I know I'm not supposed to be doing categories like 'most romantic', but after all, not only does it have possibly the best view of Ile de la Cité of all, with a sunset over the Eiffel Tower included in the price just by turning around, it is a legendary meeting / picnic / smooching and now tryst-sealing Paris landmark.

As a wooden planked pedestrian bridge in central Paris with the most fabulous views whichever way you look (try the Louvre at one end and the Institut de France at the other, never mind the imposing Musée d'Orsay, the gloriously backlit glass-roofed Grand Palais and the list goes on), this bridge is already worthy of a mention on even the most wayward top ten lists.

But it also has a strong personal history of its own, never mind all of us who have spent some of the most interesting moments of our Paris existence on those very wooden slats. The bridge suffered serious World War 1 and World War 2 bashing and a series of boat collisions culminated in a barge crash which knocked out a major section and required a complete rebuild in the early 80s.

Like it or not, the last three years or so has seen thousands of locks sprouting up like mushrooms on the bridge's metal railings, and there have been several stirrings from the Paris town hall that Something Will Have To Be Done. This will probably be quite simply their removal, although there are rumours of some sort of metallic tree structure being erected to hold lovers' lockets. What do I think? To be honest, the Pont des Arts craze has spread to quite a few others in the city, and now that there are more ripped plastic supermarket bags than metal to be seen on some of them I have to agree that the eyesore factor has now taken over. To be continued.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
4) MOST PRETENTIOUS ~ 5) OLDEST ~ 6) SEXIEST
7) MOST EIFFELIST ~ 8) QUIRKIEST ~ 9) CUTEST
10) MOST ODDLY-NAMED ~ 11) UGLIEST
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* 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!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Sab's Top Ten Paris Signs of War: No.1 ~ "The Call Up"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ War

Sab's Top Ten  Paris Signs of War
No.1: "The Call Up" ~ Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru


'Fluctuat nec mergitur' is a motto you'll find carved and crenelated widely around this fair city.

It's Latin for something along the lines of 'Is shaken by the waves but does not sink'. Which is perfectly representative of the history of Paris through the ages.

Paris has been attacked many times but, unlike  many great cities, has never really been 'destroyed'. You can read 2000 years' worth of history in these speckled stones and more, but that doesn't mean the current capital has escaped unscathed.

Far from it, in fact, but you need to know where to look, and indeed feel like looking, in order to unearth the real signs, the lasting scars, which are witness to what these streets and stones have endured down the centuries.

'Signs of war' is my chosen theme for this particular 'Top Ten', but it's a top ten of sadness and suffering, as well as simple historical interest, which serves as an essential reminder of what has gone before. Unsung, forgotten heroes fighting to save or instaure what we take for granted today call to us from the plaques and paving stones of the streets.

Sometimes, perhaps no less tragically, the signs are simply a testimonial to the heights and depths the human spirit and its attendant stupidity or immaturity can attain, as we scrabble towards some sort of mutually acceptable sanity in this world of inequality and mutual incomprehension.

Let's look at a bunch of buildings and battle signs to focus our minds on something tangible for a bit...

Sab's Top Ten Paris Signs of War
No.1 ~ "The Call Up"

Every family's worst nightmare. Every patriot's moment of truth: the call up.

Here in Paris there remains a chilling reminder of this fateful day, here in the 8th arrondissement, on the wall of one of the grand buildings facing the Place de la Concorde, for all who care to read the short message.

Each mayor was responsible for officialising the formal declaration, consisting of a sinister notice, appearing over night, and which didn't take long to spread to every household in the district.

1914 was the year in question; the 2nd August the fateful day. It's the start of the First World War in France, and tens of thousands of Parisians were to die in the trenches on the front lines.

The poster's actually a copy, as the original, which apparently survived the Second World War too, didn't make it through the smoky sixties and seventies, and was replaced with a facsimile.

The thing was actually forgotten in the heady years of the war, and it was only in 1919 that a Parisian spotted it and decided it was worth saving. Along with the memory.
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Coming Soon: No.2: Humans were not the only victims of war in this town.
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COMMENT BELOW!

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* 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!

Sab's Top Ten Perplexing Paris Plaques: No.2 ~ "Geocentric Genius"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Plaques

Sab's Top Ten  Paris Pavement Plaques
No.2: "Geocentric Genius" ~ Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

'Don't look down', the saying goes. Well I'm about to ask you to do exactly that, not once but ten times.

Maybe you already have, as you've wandered the streets of Paris, wondering at all the wonders and occasionally tripping over something somewhat strange underfoot without knowing quite what it's about.

Readers of the Da Vinci Code, and the inevitable film, may well be familiar with at least one of the curious metal plaques you'll find lurking down there on the pavement, or the sidewalk as our US friends might prefer.

It turns out that there are quite a few of these things, and I don't mean quite a few copies of the same plaque; there are quite a few completely different metal plaques on the streets of Paris, each with its own story to tell. So let's see what's been under our very feet all this time without our even realising it. If you know of any others which would fit right in to my Top Ten Paris Pavement Plaques series, I'd be delighted to hear about them!

Sab's Top Ten Paris Pavement Plaques
No.2 ~ "Geocentric Genius"

I'm pretty pleased with this one, people. Most of what I've discovered around this city has been done all on my lonesome, but I have to admit that finding this, just a handful of months ago, RIGHT next to a place (Zee Breeteesh Coonseel) I worked for years, really took me by surprise.

Then again, although I use the words 'nestled' and 'nestling' far too often for my lyrical liking, never have they been more appropriate than here, for this particularly perplexing Paris pavement plaque.

It's not on the pavement, though, as you can see. It's naughtily nestling in the green green grass (that which remains after the 'No Ball Game' notice ignorers have had their lunchtime of fame) on the Esplanade des Invalides.

And what's it all about? World domination, folks. Or at least global coverage, in these geocentric days. It's another of those strange finds which seem to be scattered at irregular intervals over much of the city, as you'll already be aware if you've read me for a while. But this one was a new one to me; an absolute surprise. And you know how much I love surprises...

A grimmish dark grey marble slate nestles - damn! there I go again - unnoticed and unremarkable if it isn't to receive a curse from a would be Messi who has the misfortune to tumble on to its nobbly surface, which would at least offer the chance to practise their acting abilities. Not that Messi isn't one of the 'cleanest' and of course most brilliant players on Planet Football today. Sorry, the most... etc.

I only correct this potential misunderstanding as I live with someone who grew up coming out of her apartment and seeing the Camp Nou (home of the legendary Barça football club) at the end of the road, so you can see where I'm coming from. But I digress. Now where was I?

Ah yes, nobbles and grimmishness. For grim it is, and a nobble it does indeed have. Not a big one, mark you, but there's unmistakably something there, and we're not talking a scuff or a scratch. As nobbles go, this one is here to stay.

So what's it all about? The words enlayed in grudging gold give the clue we need: 'Institut geographique national' lies above the bobble; 'Réseau géodésique français' lurks below.

Géodé-quoi? you may well be asking. As I did. Turns out it's a pan-planetary location system, allowing us to, hmm, did you guess... locate things in relation to other things, oh yeah. Groovy man.

It's all very komplicated and klever anyway, but the long and the lat of it is that there's a bunch of these things scattered all over France (and, presumably, the rest of the geosphere) like a burst packet of M&Ms, allowing the lay of the land to be more easily understood, mapped and navigated by all who sail in her. So now you know. Sweet.


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Sab's TOP 10 PERPLEXING PARIS PAVEMENT PLAQUES ~

1) WHEN THEBES RISES ~ 2) CONCENTRIC GENIUS ~ 3) ROSE LINE RAMBLINGS
4) ASTERIX, PAR TOUTATIS! ~ 5) DEAD CENTRE OF PARIS ~ 6) COMING SOON
7) COMING SOON ~ 8) COMING SOON ~ 9) COMING SOON
10) COMING SOON
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* 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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