Monday, 31 October 2011

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges: No.11 ~ "Pont de Grenelle"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Bridges

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges
No.11: "Ugliest" ~ Pont de Grenelle - 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.11) "Ugliest" Paris Bridge – Pont de Grenelle

Late news just in: Despite what I said back in No.? about the Pont du Garigliano's striking inelegance, we have a late contender for Paris' ugliest bridge which I just know you'd want to hear about!

Of course, the two bridges taking the Paris ring road, the Périphérique, across the Seine are both officially still in the city, and if I counted them they’d probably collectively win the ugliest Paris bridge title arches down in a terrifyingly anaesthetic double whammy. I mean, there’s ugly, there's damn ugly, and then there's the Périphérique bridges.

So, leaving them aside for a moment, I’m forced to conclude, after careful study, that the prize for the ugliest Paris bridge has to go to… Pont de Grenelle. It’s a stinker.

Despite the funny little artificial Ile des Cygnes (Ile of the Swans) attempting to give it a semblance of elegance; despite the presence of one of Paris’ copies (or is that 'originals') of the Statue of Liberty; none of this redeems what is without a shadow of a doubt a capital eyesore, an ugly duckling, if you will, made all the more so by its elegant neighbours and not looking like it’s going to be influenced by the island it traverses any time soon. Go take a look. I guarantee you won't enjoy it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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!

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges: No.10 ~ "Pont au Double"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Bridges

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges
No.10: "Most Oddly Named" ~ Pont au Double - 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.10) "Most Oddly Named" Paris Bridge – Pont au Double

This one has history oozing out of its rivets, and has been the subject of many a Paris quiz question along the lines of: Why is the Pont au Double (Bridge of the Double) so-called? With possible answers including such fanciful fun as: it had a double row of houses on it; it was the first to allow two carriages to pass each other; you had to double back if you met a lady coming in the other direction and wait for her to pass.

In fact it's about rights of passage, in the literal sense. Back in those days, at the beginning of the 17th century, the Ile de la Cité was a more cloistered entity than it is today. Crossing over to it from the 'mainland' necessarily entailed using a bridge, and bridges cost money...

The Pont au Double was originally constructed to transfer patients between the old Hotêl de Dieu hospital on the island, and its annex on the left bank.

Interestingly, neither of these buildings are now in existence. The hospital on the island used to be right next to the river but is now on the other side of the square in front of  Notre Dame and actually does include a hotel these days. On the left bank there used to be a building in front of where the famous English language bookshop Shakespeare and Company now is, if you can picture that, but which was destroyed by Napoleon III's pitbull, I mean chief city planner Haussmann as part of the road-widening schemes of the time.

Which brings us back to the burning question: why Pont au Double? It's simple, but exact accounts differ. The most common reason given is that people had to pay double for the honour of crossing this particular bridge (a two deniers fee instead of the usual one), which actually included part of the hospital itself too, such was the intensive use of space in those days. The extra funds raised may or may not have gone to the construction cost of the bridge itself.

There are other Paris bridges which could vie for the title of 'Most Oddly Named', such as the Pont au Change (just what was exchanged?), the Pont de l'Archevêché (why did the bishops need a bridge?) or the Pont de la Tournelle (if you're thinking 'turning', you'd be... wrong), but space does not allow, alas, and choices had to be made. Pont au Double and quits - that's all for now folks!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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!

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges: No.6 ~ "Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Bridges

Sab's Top Ten Wayward Paris Bridges
No.6: "Sexiest" ~ Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir - 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.6: "Sexiest" Paris Bridge – Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir

Curves to die for
Oooh, those sensual curves, that undulating silhouette a worthy complement to the most expressive of Rodin or Maillol’s voluptuous maidenpieces… although we're talking more top model sinuousness than podgy plump here. If you turned this thing on end we'd be reminded of Amazon Eve on a diet.

The bridge's elegance is accentuated by the architectural monstrosity of the Bibliotèque Nationale de France (BNF) on the 13th arrondissement end, which benefits greatly from its proximity to this infinitely more finely inspired structure.

Man meets metal
We can also escape the windswept planes of the library more easily than before to seek refuge in the interesting and relatively recent Parc de Bercy, along with its cutesy little Bercy Village at one extremity and the weirdly grass-clad Palais Omnisports at the other.

All in all, traversing or simply contemplating the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir (named after the French existentialist philosopher, intellect, author etc.) is a pleasantly uplifting experience. Perhaps all the more so if you consider you are on the newest of all the Seine's 37 bridges, built, none-the-less, by the Eiffel company and opened in 2006, which isn't, however, going to allow it to grab the title of 'Most Eiffelist Paris Bridge' in this very same series of articles. Another Seine-spanner merits that weighty accolade far more in my opinion.

When all else fails, sX sails...
P.S. If you're wondering what the blurry mess above is, well, ah hah, that's not blur, my friends, that's 'art'. It was back in 2008, you see, when the aforementioned BNF was desperately to invent itself some sort of avant-garde ex istence for itself, and the best it could think of doing was lighting up a few of its windows in an 'X' shape. Radical. I'm not sure if it was linked to some sort of erotic exhibition or not, but anyway, there it was. With our sexy Simone walkway in the foreground. I then Sabbified it, for what it's worth, because if there's something less photogenic than the bloody BNF in Paris, even an X-rated version, I haven't yet found it.What would Simone have thought?



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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, 29 October 2011

Sab's Top Ten Paris Pavement Pictures: No.1 ~ "Election Time"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Pavements Pictures

Sab's Top Ten  Paris Pavement Pictures
No.1: "Election Time" ~ Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

The creative undercurrents of this city are difficult to contain. Chic galleries and velvety vernissages serve a certain purpose, of course, but for me the simmering soul of Paris more often surfaces and boils over onto the actual streets themselves.

This Paris Pavement Pictures Top Ten is dedicated, therefore, to my favourite spontaneous sidewalk-side pavement paintings which you (almost) literally stumble over as you traipse around the trottoirs. No words needed. If you're looking for slogans, then my Paris Sidewalk Slogans Top 10 is the place to check out!

Whether the artistry is politically, subversively or humorously based, or simply an innocent attempt to brighten up our dreary days, I'll feature the best I've found on these pages.

As time goes on I may well have to divide them all up if there's just too much great stuff to contain in one humble little Top Ten, even if my definition of two times five is a loose one. Let the show begin!

Sab's Top Ten Paris Pavement Pictures
No.1 ~ "Election Time"

Unauthorised political statement of one form or another has always been with us. And anyway, those who would 'authorise' it probably wouldn't be recognised as having the right to do so by most of the transgressors anyway. Such is the murky world of imposed rules and regulations which only have some sort of moral validity in as much as they are agreed upon by everyone...

Whether this cheeky pavement statement from Sarkozy's victorious election year of 2007 was for or against the then future president I've never been able to decide.

On the one hand, it seems to be a rather fun-poking caricature, and yet the flaming blue, white and red hairpiece is nothing if not patriotic, which is generally considered a positive characteristic for presidential candidates.

But that's one of the most pleasing aspects of non-verbal artistic expression: you make your own mind up.

So as election time comes round again I'll be on the look out for more visual political messages which are often worth, as they say, a ton of blah-blah, and my goodness won't there be plenty of that to suffer over the coming months. All the more reason to switch off the TV and just read funky blogs like this one ;~P

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Discover all my Paris pavement pictures... 

1) ELECTION TIME ~ 2) COMING SOON ~ 3) COMING SOON
4) COMING SOON ~ 5) COMING SOON ~ 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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