Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios: "Ambush of Tigers"


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 15 ~ "Ambush of Tigers"

Roaring, defiant and proud, this guy hardly looks like a victim. Yet he is, and the roars may be more out of frustration and pain than anything else.

To see why we need to tread on the hallowed, out-of-bounds lawn of the Tuileries in order to witness the damage.

There in his muscular shoulder for all to see are the unmistakable marks of two bullets or shells, dating back to the last days of the German occupation of the city back in August 1944.

This whole area was heavily involved in the liberation battles and there is clear evidence of the events of those days on some of the buildings around the Rue de Rivoli and Place de la Concorde area, some of which may well crop up in future installments of this series.

The statue itself is rather uninventively called 'Tigre terrassant un crocodile' (Tiger flooring a crocodile) from 1869, and is by someone called Auguste Nicolas Cain. That's all the more silly too because crocodiles are generally found crawling along the floor in the first place, in my experience, at least.

The stately Louvre is in the background, and it's always sobering to imagine tanks and guns and soldiers crawling all over these now gentle gardens where we eat our sandwiches peacefully and watch kiddies playing with wooden boats on the circular pond.

And even as De Gaulle hammered out his victory speech from the Hôtel de Ville, he reminded Paris that the struggle wasn't quite over yet for France.

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"I speak of her duties first, and I will sum them all up by saying that for now, it is a matter of the duties of war. The enemy is staggering, but he is not beaten yet. He remains on our soil.

It will not even be enough that we have, with the help of our dear and admirable Allies, chased him from our home for us to consider ourselves satisfied after what has happened. We want to enter his territory as is fitting, as victors."

This brutalised beast, still defending the Louvre, sharp fangs gleaming, is certainly one of the lesser-known legacies of the Second World War here in Paris, but only one of many we will discover over the course of this rapidly growing Parisian quirks and curios opus.

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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...

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

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