Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios: "One Of Our Towers Is Missing"


Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios
Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

The title says it all: quirks and curiosities. And as luck would have it, Paris is packed with them; you just have to know where to look!

In this on-going series I offer you some hand picked, photographed and commented oddities which particularly interested me, and I hope will do the same for you.

I'm an avid collector of such items so any comments and suggestions you may have would be very welcome. So, without further ado, let's get straight onto...

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios
1st Arrondissement: Quirk 13 ~ "One Of Our Towers Is Missing"

For some reason it never occurred to me until someone pointed it out to me: the superb Saint Eustache church is seriously missing a tower!

From the side, the one facing Les Halles, it looks rightly splendid. Flying buttresses support an impressive tower and the whole thing is mightily breathtaking, even during the works in 2012 you can see in the picture below.

When you move round to the front, however, the aspect changes. There's no doubt about it. Either someone's nicked the right-hand, most southerly tower, or it weren't never there...

The present Saint Eustache replaced a more modest chapel dedicated to Saint Agnès, constructed by rich bourgoies Jean Alais. This had been enlarged several times over the decades but was having problems coping with the growing Les Halles population.

Finally construction on the new church was started in 1532, the first stone being placed by François I himself. He didn't see it finished, though, as it was only completed and consacrated in 1637.

That's enough exciting history, names and dates, methinks. What about the missing tower?!

Well, it appears that the facade we can see here wasn't the first, which was still uncompleted when another one was offered thanks to a generous donations but which also remained and remains unfinished.

This recalls another church, the vast Saint Sulpice, larger than Notre Dame, which also boasts a very dodgy right-hand tower.

The thing is, from around these times onwards wars, political strife and above all revolutions and counter revolutions were rife. This meant that funds for fancy but frivolous things like a church's new facade were likely to be sidelined when there were battles of various kinds to be fought.

Now on iTunes & Google Play!
Poor old Saint Eustache's right-hand tower, therefore, remains a glorious, gory stump, in stark contrast to its renaissance-style left-handed brother.

So next time you're in the Les Halles area, whether the brand new design has been completed or not, cast your eyes upward in the direction of Saint Eustache's western facade.

Clear evidence that Paris isn't as perfect as some make it out to be, but laden down with the weight of history and all it has to teach us and remind us of. Maybe one day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* 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...

                       
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios: "Queens & Wizards Abroad"


Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios
Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

The title says it all: quirks and curiosities. And as luck would have it, Paris is packed with them; you just have to know where to look!

In this on-going series I offer you some hand picked, photographed and commented oddities which particularly interested me, and I hope will do the same for you.

I'm an avid collector of such items so any comments and suggestions you may have would be very welcome. So, without further ado, let's get straight onto...

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios
1st Arrondissement: Quirk 11 ~ "Queens & Wizards Abroad"

I'm treating you to one of my first ever iPhone photos here from way back in 2010 as I have a bit of a soft spot for it.

Things have moved on from the 3GS of course and the other photos on this page are from the iPhone 5. That's right, not a Nikon SLR in sight - shhh, don't tell anyone, what would the purists say?

Anyway, this is the sight as you emerge from one of the exits of the Les Halles shopping centre, or what's left of it, and a splendid sight it is too.

The column, known as the Colonne Médicis, was actually attached to a splendid palace known as the Hôtel de la Reine, with the queen in question being Catherine de Médicis, wife of Henri II.

Henri had been killed about 15 years previously (to the construction of the column) in 1559, in a jousting tournament, and the intertwined 'H' and 'C's on the fluted sides are Catherine's tribute to her lost king.

Catherine was somewhat obsessed by astrology, and even accused by some of witchcraft. This column is thought to be linked to this activity and was used by her close friend, astronomer and some say sorcerer, Cosimo Ruggieri, to carry out his unearthly experiments.

The column was accessible at first floor level from the queen's apartments and used to be capped by a glass dome. All that's left now is the iron supporting structure. Depending on which source you believe, either the sides, or corners, of the square plinth face the four cardinal points, although Google Maps would beg to differ on both counts.

The whole story's pretty weird and complicated but goes roughly like this. The queen was living at the Louvre and had ordered another grand palace to be built, the Tuileries, just next door. Strangely, in 1570, all the work was stopped on the Tuileries and the queen ordered another complex, the future Hôtel de la Reine, also known as the Hôtel de Soissons, to be constructed forthwith.

Why? Although nothing is clear, it is thought that her magician Ruggieri predicted that she would die 'by Saint Germain'. As the Louvre was right next to the Saint Germain l'Auxerrois church this is bound to have troubled her. Hence the hasty move, as she is apparently thought to have believed everything the sorcerer told her.

This is fairly likely as another, much more famous fortune teller, Nostradamus, had already correctly predicted the unfortunate death of her husband. As it famously turns out, the priest who gave her the last rites as she lay dying in Blois in 1589 was a certain Julien de Saint Germain...

Now on iTunes & Google Play!
As a matter of interest, Ruggieri also astutely predicted that Catherine de Médicis would become queen when she married only the second in line for the throne. Also that she would bear ten children, which she eventually did.

For us today, the Colonne Médicis is a wonderful reminder of times and intrigues gone by. It's also something of a miracle that it's actually survived to modern times. Maybe thanks to a spell by a certain magician named Cosimo?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* 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...

                       
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

Sab's Totally Crap Paris: No.15 ~ "Trash It!"


Sab's Totally Crap Paris
Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

Inspired unashamedly by a photo book I spotted whilst over in the British capital, the weekend of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, as chance would have it, called 'Shit London', I proudly present my latest délire, as the French would say: Sab's Totally Crap Paris.

It occurred to me, as I flicked through the aforementioned tome of images of run down neighbourhoods, horrendously spelt or imagined shop names, wildly-less-than-desirable eateries, and, yes, turds on the streets, that Paris didn't have much to be ashamed of, in an inverted snobbery kind of way if you see what I mean. Hell, Paris streets can out-shit the best of 'em, that's what I say!

My next challenge was the name of my latest genius idea. 'Shit Paris' was obviously an option, but I quickly crossed it off, for several reasons. First of all, given my inspiration, the existing 'Shit London', it would hardly be original, and may encounter slippy-slidy copyright problems down the line, who knows.

Then there's aesthetics. Prude as I'm not, words like 'shit' don't worry me too much, but having said that they don't always project the image or subtlety I'm after. Naff Paris was an option, but a little too colloquial. Crap Paris seemed to me the ideal compromise between vulgarity, slang and vapidly timid slander. The ´totally´added the personal touch I was after.

So there you have it. Expect blindingly banal boutiques with Anglicised names to weep over, screamingly uninviting ´trottoirs´, weary tourists, endless queues, rainy days, strikes, homeless souls and basically anything and everything that strikes me as crap about Paris, including, no doubt, the odd dose of, you know, that... brown stuff (shh*t)!

Sab's Totally Crap Paris
No.15 ~ "Trash It!"


A friendly Facebook fiend asked me recently if I do anything other than 'trash', photographically speaking. I'm not quite sure what he meant by 'photographically speaking', but on reflection, and especially with my Totally Crap Paris series, I'm seriously thinking the answer is probably 'no' right now. There you go!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Discover all of Sab's Totally Crap Paris... 

1) COMING SOON  ~ 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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* 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...

                       
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Sab's Totally Crap Paris: No.14 ~ "In Lieu Of Vultures"


Sab's Totally Crap Paris
Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

Inspired unashamedly by a photo book I spotted whilst over in the British capital, the weekend of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, as chance would have it, called 'Shit London', I proudly present my latest délire, as the French would say: Sab's Totally Crap Paris.

It occurred to me, as I flicked through the aforementioned tome of images of run down neighbourhoods, horrendously spelt or imagined shop names, wildly-less-than-desirable eateries, and, yes, turds on the streets, that Paris didn't have much to be ashamed of, in an inverted snobbery kind of way if you see what I mean. Hell, Paris streets can out-shit the best of 'em, that's what I say!

My next challenge was the name of my latest genius idea. 'Shit Paris' was obviously an option, but I quickly crossed it off, for several reasons. First of all, given my inspiration, the existing 'Shit London', it would hardly be original, and may encounter slippy-slidy copyright problems down the line, who knows.

Then there's aesthetics. Prude as I'm not, words like 'shit' don't worry me too much, but having said that they don't always project the image or subtlety I'm after. Naff Paris was an option, but a little too colloquial. Crap Paris seemed to me the ideal compromise between vulgarity, slang and vapidly timid slander. The ´totally´added the personal touch I was after.

So there you have it. Expect blindingly banal boutiques with Anglicised names to weep over, screamingly uninviting ´trottoirs´, weary tourists, endless queues, rainy days, strikes, homeless souls and basically anything and everything that strikes me as crap about Paris, including, no doubt, the odd dose of, you know, that... brown stuff (shh*t)!

Sab's Totally Crap Paris
No.14 ~ "In Lieu Of Vultures"


The proprietor (I assume) of this abode was sheltering a few metres away in the doorway of the Sainte Odile church in the 17th arrondissement. The pigeons were circling. People occasionally give him a coin. Charity on your doorstep, as it were. Far from easy. But home for now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Discover all of Sab's Totally Crap Paris... 

1) COMING SOON  ~ 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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* 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...

                       
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...