Thursday, November 14, 2013

PARIS - A Flâneur's History Walk

A Flâneur's walk is pleasure when it has no purpose other than to look upon the world and wonder.  Of course, afterwards, the flâneur offers his observations.

Étienne Marcel
Provost of Paris





Etienne Marcel and Hotel de Ville, Paris by DG Hudson


Étienne Marcel, who was born into a wealthy Parisian merchant family, served as Provost of Paris in 1302 and 1310 – 31 July 1358. A provost is a seignorial officer in charge of managing burgh affairs and rural estates, and administering local justice.

In 1357, Étienne found himself at the head of a reform movement that tried to institute a controlled French monarchy. What monarchy at that time would willingly accept such changes? This reform movement threatened the royal power of the Dauphin, the heir to the throne. On the night of July 31, when Marcel would have opened the gates to his compatriots, he was killed by the guards at the Porte Saint-Antoine, one of the gates into Paris. During the following days, all his colleagues were also dispatched. The Dauphin re-entered Paris. Did the Parisian bourgeoise arrange for Étienne's death or was the guard loyal to the Dauphin?

(Note: Our rental apartment in the Marais was a few blocks away; we walked near the spot where this historical event took place on our way to Pere Lachaise Cemetery.)

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At the Musee d'Orsay, Esplanade

Three of the Six Continents, allegorical statues placed in the esplanade.



Three of the Six Continents statues, Musee d'Orsay, by DG Hudson




The statues of the Six Continents were designed for the L'Exposition universelle in 1878 at the Trocadèro palace. Six female statues are embellished with various details identifying the continent they represent. Recovered from Nantes where they had been discarded, the statues were exchanged for a painting by Sisley which would be displayed at the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Nantes. The six pieces, created by six different artists, represent Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America and Australia/Oceania.

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Every Flaneur's dream
The Eiffel Tower draws people.
People are interesting to watch.
 


Eiffel Tower, and Champ de Mars, by DG Hudson



The Iron Lady, the Eiffel Tower, provides ample opportunity for any flâneur to observe various types of people. Some will be travellers taking silly or serious shots, while the ubiquitous bicycles glide by, and the tour buses unload. Visitors from all over the world want to see the symbol of Paris.

For more posts on the Eiffel Tower:

http://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.ca/2012/04/e-eiffel-tower-to-z-blog-challenge.html

http://dghudson.blogspot.ca/2012/03/eiffel-tower-paris-photo-study.html

On a recent travel show I learned the Eiffel Tower sometimes becomes a skating rink near Christmas. It's another of those little touches that Paris does which sets it apart. This is done for the people of Paris. (as is the faux beaches complete with sand in the summer)

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Are you interested in statues? Do you wonder who they are, if you don't know (historical figures)? Do you stop to read plaques commemorating statues or other city sculptures? Where have you seen statues or monuments that made a big impression on you?

Please share your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for dropping by. I'm always listening.

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References:

http://lartnouveau.com/orsay/sculptures/les_continents.htm
Sculptures from 1878 at Musee d'Orsay

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fl%C3%A2neur
Flâneur means a saunterer or a person who strolls about city streets observing life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champ_de_Mars Champ de Mars, Paris, originally used for military drills and gathering place for large events.

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21 comments:

  1. I like to take pics of statues but I rarely remember who they are unless it's obvious....like Queen Victoria in Victoria BC.

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    1. I have forgotten, in my attempt to get the photos, to find out who the artist is, especially with art outdoors.

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  2. Those statues would be interesting studies to see how the artist created one form to represent an entire continent. Can a person tell must by looking at them which continent it is?
    I always read the plagues on statues. My daughter took on one of her favorite walking trails through Boston last time we were there and I saw lots of monuments to people I'd never heard of. It was very interesting.

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    1. Susan, the first link shown above shows closeups of the individual statues and you can see what they chose for each continent. We studied these closely when we were there.

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  3. Oh, to be a flaneur in Paris. I do enjoy seeing famous statues and buildings. Got a huge thrill out of seeing Westminster Abbey, Parliament, and the Tower of London. Like celebrities. :P

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    1. You've seen the English celebs I'd like to see. I'd be looking for English tweeds and Irish walking hats.

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  4. I do stop to read about the statues, and I take a photo of the statue and dedication plate if it interests me. The Air Force Academy near me has an Honor Court with a bunch of cool statues. Some are planes, some are people. A Tuskegee Airman created a sculpture of an unnamed Tuskegee Airman, which stands there. There's a sculpture of a female pilot, and other important people in Air Force history. I like to walk through those statues.

    On the other hand, we have a statue in the middle of a road downtown, which causes issues. Every few years, there's a movement to move it, which brings people out fighting to keep it right where it is, despite how irritating it makes the drive through there. That statue is of Palmer, an important man in our history. I have yet to photograph it, as it's in such an awkward place.

    I'd never heard of the Six Continents. What a cool set of sculptures! I would love to see them.

    The Warrior Muse

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    1. I believe the Joan d'Arc statue is in the middle of the road (not the intersection, on one side.) So. . . Hubs knew of the Tuskegee Airman squadron. Check the link at the end of the post for closeups of the statues.

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  5. I don't remember seeing the statues, although I did visit the museum. Perhaps I did see them, but didn't realize what they were. I really enjoy seeing your pictures of Paris. They make me want to go back!

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    1. They make me feel the same, Sherry. Depending on when you were there, they may not have been installed at the Musee d'Orsay.

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  6. I like to pose with statues, whenever this is feasible. It usually just makes me look more tiny than I already am. The Lincoln Memorial fascinates. I'd love to go to Paris. For now, I'll enjoy your photos. Thanks, DG.

    xoRobyn

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    1. I like to take the photos without me in them. I've always preferred being the camera geek not the model. They never get my good side.

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  7. Oh yay, I was hoping you'd explain what a flaneur is. Good word.

    It depends what kind of a mood I'm in whether I stop to read the plaque or not. The most excited I ever remember getting about a random statue was happening upon Abraham Lincoln in London.

    I hope your WIPs are going well! It was very, very fun having you stop by last week to admire my tiny knights. :)

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    1. Congrats on the win! I look forward to reading the results of the joust. I liked the little hamster stuffed into that mini-knight's armor best.

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  8. Beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing. I love that hotel.

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    1. There's a lot to love in Paris, Sylvia, thanks for dropping by!

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  9. It's interesting that in so many places, statues are prominent. In some, like in New York City or Washington D.C., the statues are so numerous that it becomes tough not to just pass them by - we started our trips to both those cities reading every plaque, but after a few days, we would just stop at some.
    Where we live, in Washington state (not D.C.), there are far fewer statues and monuments. Outdoor art is often modern and not of any one person or historical moment. We stop at the statues here, if we haven't before, because they are so few and so far between.

    Thanks for the post!

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    2. I'll try this again. Our art is likely similar to yours, Tyrean, since BC is north of Washington state. We also have a lot of First Nations art. Dolphins, Whales and giant crabs, that's Vancouver.

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  10. "No purpose other than to look upon the world and wonder" -- this I like. Should do more of it! When I visited Paris, we went up into the tower at night; but I'd like to see the daytime view someday.

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    1. At night, you see the sparkle of Paris, in the day, you see the grandeur. On the Eiffel and on the Arc de Triomphe I felt on top of the world - I love aerial views!

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