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.2 ~ "Wooden Ships On The Water"
It was clear when I started to head down the steps of the Les Egouts de Paris (the Paris Drains Museum), that I was entering a watery parallel world, but I wasn't expecting this!
A wall-sized beautifully carved wooden representation of Paris' famous boat symbol in its simplest form. What we see here is effectively a three dimensional version of the highly schematic image seen on official posters in parks and electricity boxes everywhere (see above).
What such a splendid piece is doing hidden away in the drains museum is anybody's guess, but it seems a shame and a terrible waste (so to speak) to me.
I'm afraid I can't include any context (dripping pipes, gurgling sewage, rollicking rats, perambulating pirates...) as it was mounted on this rather uninspiring grey wall, but the polished wood itself is a pleasure to behold.
I'm taking the liberty of including a third, rather more impressionistic photo of the same sculpture here, for a specific reason.
I've just got myself a new camera, which for the record and the geeks is a Nikon D800, and it'll be my main shooter from now on, along with my iPhone for my daily Paris Photo Chronicles over on my sister Paris and I photo blog.
So anyway, this third photo is the first photo taken on my new digital baby, and yes, of course it's supposed to look like that ;-)
This one snuck in at number two in my Paris Boats Top 10, not necessarily because I find it the second most stunning representation of the Paris boat in existence, but rather because there were only two slots left which needed filling and they're all worthy really.
Number one, coming shortly, should be pretty cool though, and I'll be continuing the series with numbers 11, 12, and so on, as I come across nice examples to share with you. As I'll be doing for all my Paris Top 10s, so don't despair, boat, plaque and drain cover lovers, there's plenty more where this one came from. Float on!
* 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...