Paris Time Patrol number huit

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Place Maubert, 1964*

I discovered Place Maubert in 1970, not very long after this photo. I was starting College up the hill, at the Collège Sainte-Barbe, close to the Panthéon. After class one would walk down Rue Valette, then Rue des Carmes, cross Rue des Ecoles, and arrive at Place Maubert, on the Boulevard Saint-Germain and catch the metro. The cars still had wooden doors that could be opened manually between stations. That would be a no-no to-day. Security. “Non, monsieur, c’est interdit!” Maubert was a popular neighbourhood then, with an open air market that still goes on. Look at the children by the stairs. The blue-collar man with a cap on. A discarded baby carriage on the street to the right. You can catch a glimpse of Notre-Dame at the end of the street to the left. All dark and sooty.

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Place Maubert today is all “bourgeois”.

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Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). He witnessed the fall of the Monarchy in 1848. The rise – and fall – of the second Republic. Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte’s coup d’état and the second Empire. The defeat at Sedan in 1870. The third Republic and the beginning of WWI. He died one year short of the end of WWI. His superb house and garden have been transformed into to-day’s Musée Rodin. An absolute must in any Paris visit.

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Les bourgeois de Calais. c. 2015. During the 100 year war with our English “cousins”, in 1347, Calais was under siege by King Edward III of England. To ensure that the population would not be slaughtered, the six richest “bourgeois” of Calais, led by Eustache de Saint-Pierre, surrendered to the English, dressed in a chemise, a long “shirt” which then the undergarment, with the keys of the city and a rope around their neck to be hanged, in sacrifice for the population to be spared. They were eventually pardoned and not executed. Today Calais is the converging point of many migrants who try to hop on lorries to enter the UK. Mankind never learns, right?

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“The shade”, c.1964 in Rodin’s gardens.*

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Hotel de ville, City hall, c.1964*. This is the exact angle of Doisneau’s famous “Baiser de l’Hôtel de ville” (The kiss at City Hall). Note the vintage Citroën automobile in the centre behind the newspaper delivery man and his bicycle, and the Peugeot 203 to the left. We had a Peugeot just like that in the early sixties.

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City Hall today. c. 2016. Always a place of enormous power City Hall houses the ambitions of many a future Presidential candidate. (God spare us from Anne Hidalgo please!)

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The Arc de triomphe, place de l’Etoile. Construction started in 1806, under Napoleon’s reign to celebrate his military triumphs/victories and lasted 30 years until 1836, under the reign of Louis-Philippe, the last king of France. A true Parisian (at heart) I’ve never climbed the stairs up to the top. I know. I will get therapy.

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Arc de triomphe, 1964*, probably taken from the Avenue de Wagram. It is now prohibited to feed the pigeons. Note the line on the old lady’s hose… Stitched in those days…

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Arc de triomphe, c. 2015. The bas-relief, or ronde-bosse to the right is the representation by sculptor François Rude of “La Marseillaise”. (In French “rude” means “rough”, not ill-mannered). And to the right:


The Roman style celebration of Napoleon’s victories: a winged angel or deity to the right places a laurel wreath on Napoleon’s head. Sculptor: Jean-Pierre Cortot.

1964 images come from “The Paris I love”, printed  on the 15th of May 1964. (c) by Editions Sun Paris. World rights reserved. Printed in France by Draeger and Braun. Photographs (marked with a *) by Patrice Molinard. The recent ones are mine.

The Captain, Chief Engineer Scotty and crew thank you ever so much for flying Equinoxio’s Time-Space shuttle and wish you a safe week wherever you land.

41 thoughts on “Paris Time Patrol number huit

  1. That first photo is especially glorious, Brian. Of course there’s a tangential connection between Rodin and Kenya. Giselle Bunau-Varilla (from Parisian family) was his student, and did much fund raising for the Musee Rodin. She later set her sights on Count Mario Rocco and they went off ivory hunting in the Congo and, with the proceeds, built the extraordinary house, Olerai, on the north shore of Lake Naivasha.

    • Truly amazing, Tish. Connection-wise. I didn’t know or remember that. Though my parents knew the Rocco, in the late sixties. At one or the other cocktail parties I guess. They always referred to Mirella and Oria as “Yeah, the Rocco girls”. They were quite beautiful and talented young women. I have Mirella’s book, African saga. Where she talks about the house (I haven’t seen it myself. Have you?) and how she moved into her father’s room after he died. There are not that many great books on Africa. I understand she has moved to London. To stay close to her grandchildren… Oria, well, I also have their book “Elephants and us”. She and Douglas-Hamilton have stayed in Africa. I understand their daughter Saba has made quite a good name for herself. Those are the books and destinies that I find make it so hard to explain to… europeans: “That was the normal life. Been there.” “Come on! That is fiction. Nobody lives like that!”. I’m sure you see what I mean? (And you probably met many of those legendary characters) Kwaheri Memsahib. 🙂

      • I have the books you mention too. And yes, we have stayed in the Douglas Hamiltons’ cottage at Olerai, and had a guided tour around the main house, which is extraordinary. Oria was a great one for painting the girls and family in very whimsical, self-regarding murals. There’s one on the balustrade of ‘minstrel’s gallery’ overlooking the main great hall. It’s as if they were fantasising their own lives in Africa somehow. Much intentional conjuring of idyll if you know what I mean. You could stay in the house at huge expense. The kitchen was the best bit. I gather Mario used to cook, and it was a true European kitchen from which great dishes surely emerged. There was also a phenomenal ‘stately home’ style library. Meanwhile hippos came at night to graze in the garden…

      • How grand that you should have been there. Now the hippo thing is my point entirely. Tell people that in the UK, and they will not believe you. 🙂
        But I do. (Been there)
        Bon week-end, rafiki.

  2. I didn’t make it to see Rodin’s place. Too bad. Love the sculpture you featured. Amazing to think what he lived through. Hard to retain hope.

    Even I made it to the top of the Arch. Lovely view. I was surprised at how beautiful the sculpture was on it and the lighting at night is lovely.


    • That leaves you with many things to still see, next time you go to Paris. (With Eric and Colin).
      Hope? Well… Comes and goes…
      And yes, I imagine the view must be superb. Particularly at night, which I hadn’t thought of. Mental not made for next trip. 🙂
      Be good.

  3. Lovely photos Brian, there is something magical about cities before the car ‘took over’. I’ve never seen that version of the Burghers of Calais. The Rodin version (one of them I guess) sits in the gardens next to the Houses of Parliament in London – it’s a beautiful piece, although the last time I was at Parliament it was missing from its plinth. Maybe being melted down to pay for Brexit!

  4. I love the older photos; the children on the stairs, the woman and the pigeons. Rodin’s works move me with their raw power. I cannot imagine the wars and trials of life he had survived in his long life only to die in the midst of the horrific war to end all wars without seeing it’s resolution.

    • Yes those vintage photos called me. I remembered the book from when I was a child. Spotted it on a shelf the other day. Thought how fun it would be to mix with today’s photos. Yes, dying in 1917 must have had an added dreary side. My great-grandmother died in Brittany in 1944. Before the Allied landing in Normandy. So, she too, never knew that France , and Europe would eventually be free. 😦

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