Saturday, May 5, 2012

At the Palais Royal with Ray

Ray - Pont des Arts
6:48 AM - Ray, who lives near Sydney (Australia), on a business trip to France, took advantage of this Saturday morning to do a visit of Paris by running. Ray is an experienced coach who trains high-level athletes (See Ray's web site). It is thus with a good pace that we went to discover the city.

Having run on the left bank, we crossed the river Seine by the "Ile de la Cité" then joined the Palais Royal (Royal Palace), very quiet in the morning.

Ray - Garden of the Palais Royal

The Palais Royal was built by Cardinal de Richelieu in 1628. The Palace was then called the Cardinal Palace. After the death of Richelieu, the Regent Anne of Austria settled down there. His sons, king Louis XIV and his brother spent their first years there. The period of "La Fronde" (The sling) where the parliament and the noble persons dispute the royal authority, brought the king Louis XIV outside Paris. The Palace of Versailles was one of its biggest creations outside the capital.

Palais Royal and Palais Royal's garden

After the Sling and the departure of young king Louis XIV, the Royal Palace witnessed numerous historic periods, the feasts of the Regency at the beginning of the 18th century for example, the debates of ideas and the start of the Revolution of 1789, then with the 19th century, the world of Cafés, houses of games and of prostitution (games and soliciting were forbidden in the 1830s)...

Do you remember of the small cannon of the Palais Royal about which we had spoken here?

More recently, in 1986, the Palais Royal exhibited a work of modern Art, "Les Deux plateaux" of the artist Daniel Buren, so called the "Columns of Buren":

Ray - Palais Royal - Columns of Buren

These columns aroused an important debate within the population and in the media. The work of Art was nearly demolished.

Very recently, as seen at the left of the photo above, quite wooden, a new theater appeared, the "Théâtre de l'Ephémère" (Short-lived Theatre), which replaces temporarily the nice building of "La Comédie Française", currently being renovated.

Merci Ray !

The route of the tour:

Friday, May 4, 2012

Four mornings to explore Paris with Sarah

Sarah - Hôtel de Ville
6:30 AM - Sarah of Houston (USA), wished to discover Paris by running four following mornings with Paris Running Tour. It is thus with a big enthusiasm that we investigated the center of Paris as well right bank as left bank (see routes at the end of the post).

Did you know that the metric system was set up during the Revolution?
The National Convention (constitutional and legislative revolutionary assembly), to generalize the use of the metric system disposed sixteen marble standard meters at the most frequented places of Paris.
These meters were installed between February, 1796 and December, 1797. With Sarah, during our explorations, we found both last ones who remain at present in Paris, the one of the right photo being the only one who is still on its original site:

Standard meter Place Vendôme - Standard meter street of Vaugirard

On the "grands boulevards", we discovered two triumphal arches:

Porte Saint-Martin - Porte Saint-Denis

Yes, before the Arcs of Triumph wanted by Napoleon the 1st, place de l'Etoile and in the Carrousel of the Louvre, Louis XIV ordered the construction of these two Arcs in honor of his military victories (See the inscription at the top of the Arcs: "Ludovico Magno", Louis the Great). Louis XIV, Sun King did not only make Versailles!

The Arc of "La Porte Saint Denis" ("Porte"=door) and the Arc of "La Porte Saint-Martin" are in the location of former fortified doors of Paris, both belonging to the surrounding wall of king Charles V.
Indeed, the "Grand boulevards" which we know now correspond to the ancient surrounding fortifications of Paris, built by Charles V, widened by Louis XIII, then destroyed under Louis XIV
The word "Boulevard" comes moreover from the word "Bolevers" which comes itself from the ancient Dutch word "Bolewerk" meaning "Ramparts".

From the Charles V's surrounding wall (1383) to the "nouveau Cours" (1705 ) - Representation of the door Saint-Martin

See these trees planted all along the Boulevard. The Parisians called them "boules vertes" (Green balls). Boules vertes = Boulevards! Other origin of the word!

Among our other historic explorations, we found the ancient Arenas of Lutetia (Lutetia = Paris before the third century later JC). They were accidentally discovered by chance during works in 1870. These Roman arenas could contain more than 10000 spectators. Under their eyes took place gladiators' fights, fights of wildcats but also representations of comedies or dramas.

Sarah - Arenas of Lutetia

Nowadays, it is a quiet place for games of balls or tournaments of petanque. From time to time, theater companies play there. 

Merci Sarah !

The routes of the four tours:

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