Friday, 18 January 2013

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios: "Fantasy Island"

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 17 ~ "Fantasy Island"

There really is something fantastical about this marvellous creation which cropped up in Paris in 2000 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Paris metro.

As can be seen from my second picture, below, it's actually quite tricky to photograph. This is due in large part to the very messy backdrop of trees, buildings, lamp posts and of course incessant traffic, tourists and rubbish sacks. Great!

The answer, as you may have guessed, is to get in close to some of those wild and wonderful forms and shot up at them. The problem with this is that the bright sky makes everything look terribly dull and you need to do some tricky stuff to get anything worthwhile at all.

Anyway, here are my shots of the Kiosk des Noctambules, which means something along the lines of night birds' or night owls' kiosk. It's made of two domes of giant glass beads interspersed with aluminium rings and balls and is quite spectacular and totally unexpected in this classical area of Paris between the Louvre and the Palais Royal.

It's also got a nice woven metal railing, again made up of aluminium  hoops and a public bench, again, you guessed it, in chilly aluminium.

The architect is called Jean-Michel Othoniel and his concept is linked to night and day. The reds, oranges and yellows represent the waking hours and the blues, whites and lilacs conjure up the eponymous night-lovers.

Inside the metro entrance, for that's what the Kiosk des Noctambules encapsulates, the work continues. The staircase walls are shaded in subtle dark gold and two display cases with more of the coloured balls are found within, again suggesting night and day.

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Personally, I'd like to see a few more crazy things like this popping up more often, although I accept that you can have too much of a good thing and that Disneyland is on the end of line A, not in the middle of line 1... (for it does look like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland).

The fact is that weird sculptures do appear on a regular basis for one artistic reason or another, all over the city, whether in the parks and gardens or the streets, and you just have to keep your eyes open for them.

It's just been a few weeks now since Paris really surprised me so I guess I'm getting an itchy shutter finger waiting for the next great thing to write home about. It won't be long, I'm sure of that.

* 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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