'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 Perplexing Paris Pavement Plaques series, I'd be delighted to hear about them!
Sab's Top Ten Perplexing Paris Pavement Plaques No.11 ~ "What The Plaque!"
This one's a mystery.
I mean, I know where it is and everything, I just don't know what it is. OK, I didn't actually ask, but sometimes it's nicer to have a bit of intrigue for a while, so I'll wait until next time I go back, or someone tells me, whichever happens first.
I should be able to get my dad or Google or something to translate the Latin. As for the monogram in the middle... that's anyone's guess.
It greatly reminds me of certain royal insignia, such as that of Louis XIV who intertwingled his 'L's with the 'M' and 'T' of his cousinly amour, Marie-Thérèse of Austria into a single symbol.
Here I can kind of distinguish 'L's and a 'W', which is strange for France, but then you could also imaging that there are 'D's, 'C's and why not 'P's and goodness knows what else. As I said, anyone's guess...
It resides in the Orangerie art gallery, and doesn't come with an explanation. I was also a bit nervous about taking the shot, as they have a no-pics policy, but I asked one of those sitting-dead who pass for museum curators who shrugged non-committedly with a look that implied he couldn't imagine anything more stupid than taking a picture of this particular plaque, so I did.
So, Google says that dediderunt qui dedicauerunt quae means 'surrendered to the dedicated', which I suppose may or may not actually mean something. Looks like it'll be my dad after all.
To make matters even more obscure, there's a little diamond of letters above the main design, namely J, G, P and W, although you'd be hard pressed to say for sure that they were all included in the twirly whirly letters and curls below, if indeed they are.
Then, finally, there's a date: MCMLXV. Which would be 1000 + (1000-100) + 50 + 10 + 5, which also happens to be the year of my birth, which is... even spookier! Could it be a sign? Am I about to take part in the next Dan Brown novel? After nearly 20 years in the city have I finally discovered a real and deeper reason for actually being here?
I think it's maybe almost probably certain that there's something strange going on here but I'm not quite sure what... any help would be greatly appreciated and will earn you a well-merited mention immediately below! Thanks.
~ Sab's TOP 10 PERPLEXING PARIS PAVEMENT PLAQUES ~
* 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...