Long have I thought about doing a Top Ten 'wheel-chasers' (chasse-roues in French) but never quite got around to it. Now, after discovering this wonderful specimen in the Place des Vosges I've decided to plunge in. I doubt I'll be able to dream up many stories to accompany them, which is one of the reasons I hesitated. After all, what can you say about a chunk of metal or concrete designed to stop carriage wheels from damaging the buildings, or is it the other way around? Still, there is such a huge variety of these things I reckon it's worth delving into, so here goes. Close your eyes, and imagine, if you will, a time when the horse was the... horsepower of predilection for those who could afford one. And people complain about dog poo on the streets these days - they really don't know how lucky they've got it!
Sab's Top Ten Wicked Paris Wheel Chasers No.1 ~ "Crumbling Anachronism"
Two fine examples here of the long-lost art of the chasse-roues - now how do you say that in English - because they go in pairs, you know...
My biggest worry is that some day they'll decide they've gotta go, not serving much purpose now, and being in such a crumbling state, that's a danger.
This one is great, because you can really see the inner workings of the thing. It's kinda gruesome, with its innards hanging out, but kinda fascinating at the same time. One can only imagine how it arrived at such a pitiful state. Was it cruelly cutting carriage wheels that did this or simply countless winters and countless gents cleaning their crotte-encrusted boots on the thing?
We will never know. But here it is in all its glory, a useless relic from another time, now amusing 21st century bloggers, but for how long?
The one on the other side is in an even sorrier state and looks like it's lived a very hard life indeed.
Honestly, I'd love to know how something so seemingly solid could have been reduced to such a mess. Was it lorries backing into it or huge heavy loads being placed upon it? One can only wonder.
Now people pass by unseeing and unthinking about such things, as I probably should be doing too.
I know that I'm not alone in my obsession, though, because I've seen others writing about the same thing. I am not alone - there are other wheel-chasing loonies out there too - a reassuring thought, and I need them.
Now I'll be off to chase other wheel-chasers and they are not in short-supply in this city. The Louvre has a fine pair, for example. As do all manner of fine old residences around the place just waiting for a little lost glory from the times when splendid young things would trot by to the neighing of equestrian beauties - ahh, those were the days.
* 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...