Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios: "Curved Wall Curveball"

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios
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 14 ~ "Curved Wall Curveball"

This is definitely something you could walk past a thousand times without realising it was something much more than an average Parisian wall.

I know, I've done it. Until I started researching for a walk along the route of the old Philippe Auguste wall, that is.

For it passed by this way, you see, and you can see, quite clearly, the interior of one of the many towers which lined its route.

If I remember rightly, because the informative panel has fallen off, this was rediscovered during the construction of an air vent for the new line 14 of the metro, the automatic one with no driver at all at all.

Looking up, the curve of the tower is cosily cuddled by two higher buildings. According to my sources, if you wander around the back and beg entrance to one of the buildings on the other street, there is a place where you can see the back side of this curve. I haven't managed to do so as yet but I'm always open to the opportunity.

Following the old Philippe Auguste wall, which you can easily find out more about by Googling it, around the city is a surprisingly rich experience. There are many visible remains and hints of remains if you know where to look. There's a great book in the legendary Parigramme series (in French) documenting all the various walls and enclosures which have attempted to seal in (or keep barbarians out of) the ever-growing Paris at one time or another.

Another intriguing aspect of this particular relic can be seen by looking down. My last photo below shows you what you can see quite clearly.

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It appears there was some sort of hollow tube built into the side of the wall itself. This too small for a spiral staircase and I doubt any man would have wanted to be lowered down or hauled up that way either. (The discarded shoe is, I assume, from more recent times.)

So perhaps it was for hoisting up goods or food supplies from down below. Who knows? My book isn't clear on this matter, but does think that the wall may have been hollowed out since its construction - i.e. isn't as thick as it originally was - in order to gain valuable space in later days.

Whatever the truth, it makes a fascinating find and a worthy member of the several vestiges of this unmissable aspect of historic Paris right before, above and below our very eyes.

* 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!

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