A morning walk, Paris

Little G. helping an old Lady tag the wall. Paris, 2022

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1900-1944. The author of Vol de nuit (Night flight), Terre des hommes (Wind, sand and stars), The Little prince, and others, was born in Lyon in 1900. With his friends Mermoz, Guillaumet et al, he opened the world to air travel. During WWII, he joined the Free French Forces as a pilot, rank of Colonel. He was shot by an enemy plane on the 31st of July 1944. Nearly two months after the Allies had landed in Normandy on June 6, and two weeks before the Allied landing in Provence.

Saint-Exupéry, Saint-Ex for short, lived in this building before the war. The building is on Place Vauban, facing the Invalids and the tomb of Napoleon. The Mercedes was not his. A nice vintage though. I’ve seen it parked in several different places in the area.

Nearby, the little Prince says of the fox: “I’ve made him my friend, now he is unique.”

“Common portrait #4″. Can you identify the six original artists whose combined work turned into this unique portrait? Tip: look closely, each fragment has the artist’s signature…

Pont Alexandre III. The most beautiful bridge in Paris. Above and below (detail) The golden statue above is “La renommée de la guerre”, something like “The fame of war”. (I didn’t know. I swear. Just researched…)

The bridge was built in 1900 for the Universal Expo.

Look who’s here. The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889, for another Universal Expo… View from the Champs de Mars. Black & White suits the old lady, doesn’t it?

Crossing the Seine, upriver. The Palais de Tokyo. Built in 1937 (for yet another International Expo!) it is a masterpiece of Art Déco. Probably one of the last buildings of that school. It used to be the modern art museum. Until Beaubourg was built and half its collections were transferred to the Centre Pompidou. Wonderful architecture, statues and bas-reliefs. (see below) (And thank you to all of you who sent me tutorials on how to do a panoramic with the I-phone… I am learning) 🙏🏻

Palais de Tokyo. “The legend of earth”, by Alfred Janniot, bas-relief dedicated to Thalie or Thalia, Greek muse of Comedy. Makes one think of Shakespeare: the legend of Earth is but one big comedy? “A tale told by an idiot… signifying nothing”?

Musée de l’Armée, the Museum of the Army, is located in the Invalides. Close to Napoleon’s tomb. Those are German armours, Palatinat if I recall, early 1500’s. Note the space allocated to fit the mustache of the valiant knight…

Outside the Museum of the Army, an Ouragan (Hurricane), the first French fighter jet ever produced. My brother helped me out, I thought it might be a Mystère. The stork on the nose is a reminder of Guynemer’s “Escadrille des cigognes”, the Stork squadron, one of the most prestigious units of the French Air Force in WWI.

213 “Ouragans” were delivered by Dassault between 1952 and 1954. Two years. That is the time it takes to build one single unit of the current French fighter plane, the Rafale.

The Rafale (and the Eiffel Tower). The French Air Force currently has 96 Rafale. In 1975, the Air Force had 450 fighter planes… Not classified info. It’s public domain. Any further question? The People rest their case your Honor.

The moat of les Invalides has been invaded by rabbits. I swear. Here’s proof. I’d read about it, not believing it. 350 rabbits have been identified in and around the Invalides… (We have more rabbits than fighter planes) A strategy is being designed to capture them all. The rabbits. Alive… (And since I am in a sarcastic mood, we have 3.5 as many rabbits as we have fighter planes…)

Jean Moulin was sent by De Gaulle to occupied France in 1942 to unify the Résistance movements. He was arrested near Lyon in 1943 by the Gestapo. Tortured, he died during a transfer. Some say he was betrayed by a member of his own network. Jean Moulin was made a “Compagnon de la Libération”, an exclusive and limited order created by de Gaulle during the war to honour those who fought for the Liberation of France. The museum of the Order of Liberation is situated inside the Invalides. We stayed nearby, at École Militaire, so many of the mailboxes on the street, bore the portraits of the members of the Order. In this case: Jean Moulin. (1899-1943).

Trocadéro. Facing the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, the Palais de Chaillot was built at the same time as the Palais de Tokyo. Another superb example of Art Nouveau, it houses various museums. This block of statues is called “La jeunesse” (youth) by Pierre Poisson. (There will be more)

sThe Virgin Mary and Saint John. Tuscany, earky 1200’s. Musée Cluny. I’ve known that museum for close to 50 years now when I was a student in the Latin Quarter. A unique collection of Middle Age art, it was closed for restoration for a few years. Just reopened. I was favourably surprised that they did a fairly good job. Not like a few other museums I will not mention. Most of the art is religious (as my dear friend Carol mentioned), but those were the ways of the time. It also tells us how people dressed then… See Carol’s blog here: https://casdinteret.com/

The lady and the unicorn. Cluny holds that series of six tapestries done in the late 1400’s, early 1500’s. The series has led to many interpretations, symbolic, hidden meaning, what have you. This one is supposed to represent Taste, one of the six senses. I don’t think we will ever find the true original meaning of the tapestries. The interest to me lies in the décor, the symbols, the lion, the unicorn. In Gheerbrant’s Dictionary of symbols, the unicorn is a symbol of power and purity. So be it. The rabbits were already very much present as in the Invalides today… Note the dresses. And the servant kneeling to present a beverage to her mistress, portrayed much taller. (To be continued…)

Thank you for flying Equinoxio Airways. Enjoy Paris. We’ll be back.

Meantime, lest we forget:

Free 🇺🇦

Respect the election in 🇧🇷

69 thoughts on “A morning walk, Paris

  1. Goeiedag Brian. I was challenged by your question to name the six artists of whom the portrait is compiled of. And I recognized Botticelli, Da Vinci and Modigliani by myself. The top right I gave to Velasquez. They other two I could not name. Then I disovered the names written on the pieces and found out I was wrong about the Velezquez. Now I still am puzzeled about the one bottem right. I think I read V. Corius, but I have no clue who that could be, although somehow I do believe I know the painting that it’s off. Anyway – lovely walk again. Tot later.

  2. Another enjoyable Paris tour with our favorite guide! (True confession time: I thought Little G. was part of the painting, and I was very impressed with the three-dimensionality the artist achieved. *facepalm*)

    • It was very nice to be all be together for a few days all together.
      You need to come back to see the Palais de Tokyo… 😉
      The mustache was interesting fashionwise. Mustache no beard! LOL.

  3. A marvellous collection of art and history, Brian. I have no.idea about the portrait such is my appalling lack of knowledge of classical art. An interesting tour nonetheless.

      • LOL. I can imagine. Which is an interesting information. So you, as probably many others view your posts on your phone? I only skim on my phone. I like a bigger screen. (Plus specs…) 🤓

      • I switch between phone, tablet and desktop. Gosh first world problems that I have.
        Having said that – most people use cellphones for everything now. Reading is on the run.

      • In Australia, one of the big Telco companies, called Optus, just got hacked. Although my cybersecurity guru son says it can’ t be a hack when there security has holes everywhere. Millions of Australians who used optus had their identity info stolen, requiring them to change all passwords, renew drivers’ licenses, passports, all online accounts and especially bank details. It is a nightmare. Even ex optus customers weren’t deleted so they have been affected too. The lines at the passport and licensing office have been extensive for several weeks. And who pays?

      • Aggravating. Who pays? The consumer. The end-user. An old friend of my daughter’s got her phone stolen, her Apple ID hacked, all her bank accounts emptied. Plus blackmail: if you want all your cloud files back, pay…

  4. so much to take in, wonderful as usual. That merc was a great one and in my view the last of a generation of mercs that were worth buying. I’m not familiar with that piece of art so no, i don’t know the four artists – do tell. Saint Exupery – tragic loss to this day. years ago I read an article on how the Resistance wasn’t quite as united as they’d led us to believe and that different cells had different politics and would sometimes expose an internal enemy to gain control or keep a certain view in the cell.

    • I was puzzled by “merc”. Until I went back to the post and remembered the Mercedes. True. That was a great model.
      The artists are identified by their signature on each piece. L. to r. top to bottom: Caravaggio, Parmiggianino (Didn’t know him), Botticelli, da Vinci and Modigliani. Last one I don’t know.
      And yes, there were many cells and networks from the Communists to the right. Everyone pushing for gaining power after the war. One of de Gaulle’s major efforts was to unify all movements. Difficult.

  5. There are so many wonderful things mentioned in this post, it’s hard to know what to comment on. The death of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry at only 44 is a tragedy. I am always reading books about war in an effort to understand the psychology of war and why mankind keeps having them when they are so destructive. I only recognised three of the artists in your picture. I feel like a philistine and shall have to read up more about art.

    • You don’t say? Must have brought some sweet memories.
      The palais de Tokyo? I love it. On the outside. The inside collections have been “pilfered” Beaubourg, I was a bit disappointed when I went a few years back. Maybe I will give it another try… But the walk outside is unique.

  6. Tu fais aimer Paris .
    A propos d’avions de chasse: bombardiers de l’armée j’ ai une appréhension qu’on soit comme en en 1940 . Mais la France peut -elle subvenir à toutes les formes modernes d’armement? Question angoissante ?

  7. Ah combien de fois ai je lu le Petit Prince.. et de decouvrir de nouvelles interpretations a chaque fois. Un de mes livres fetiches

  8. Thanks for the link Brieuc! You have so much here that I want to comment on. I think I already told you about my first visit to Cluny last summer. It is wonderful how they’ve wrapped the ancient in modern surroundings here and there.

    I was also hoping to visit Musée de l’Armée but couldn’t go for some reason. I don’t recall now if it was closed because of work being done. I love the Palais de Tokyo—much preferring the architecture and natural light within the building compared to Pompidou. Great panoramic photo of the place!

    That Common Portrait is really cool. Where was that?

    One of these days I hope to read Saint-Exupéry’s Vol de nuit. I actually own a used copy that I found at the bookstore of our local library. Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

    • Hi Carol. Yes, I remember your comments about the multitude of saints and virgin Marys…😉
      Tokyo is unique. The collections not that much.
      Not sure where the common portrait was, but by pic number I would say between Le Pont des arts et la Rue de Buci.
      Vol de nuit or Terre des hommes are must-reads…
      A bientôt

  9. Two good friends recently moved to Paris and I’ve yet to visit, this just adds to the incentive, Brian. I’m sure you’ve shared other photos of the The Palais de Tokyo, it’s really intriguing.

    • You’ve been putting Paris off for a while. 😉 Your friends are a good reason to visit. The city is increasingly chaotic thanks to our dear Mayor… But it’s still worth a trip. Au revoir.

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