Friday, 25 January 2013

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios: "Holey Spire"

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
4th Arrondissement: Quirk 3 ~ "Holey Spire"

It's quirk number 3 in the 4th arrondissement and I'm offering you three curiosities for the price of one - now you can't say fairer than that, can you?

The first thing that strikes you about the Eglise Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile, from afar, in fact, isn't something that's there, but rather something that's missing. Unique in Paris this modest church has got huge gaping holes all the way down its spire!

The story's quite simple really, and gently amusing in a slightly irreverent kind of way. The first half of the 18th century was particularly trying for the church. The powers that be saw fit to send first storms to destroy the roof in 1701, killing several of the faithful. Then in 1740 lightning took out the bell tower. Something had to be done.

That something can be seen today, in the form of a, quite literally, very holey spire indeed. This hopefully made it less susceptible to dangers from the wind on the gusty isle.

It's time to look at the second curiosity, which can also be seen in the first two pictures. Did you guess? Yes, it's the clock.

Sticking out from the side of the building, as opposed to stuck on it, the reason is again highly pragmatic.

The street is too narrow to easily see the hour from directly beneath so the clock face(s) are at right angles to the facade and can thus be read from way down the street, very handy when hurrying to evening service hoping the spire isn't going to fall on top of you...

Which brings us to the third oddity, a dark plaque attached to the side of the church as was (and still is) often the case.

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The inscription reads: "Loix et Actes de L'Autorité Publique".

These were put up during revolutionary times and below were posted the various and numerous new laws and judgements being passed in the flurry of the end of the 18th century.

It was strictly forbidden to cover them up or tear them down, and considering that quite a few of the notices posted must have been to announce imminent beheadings, I imagine this was respected pretty carefully.

* 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...

© 2013 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

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