Place de la Bastille
Although the mother of all revolutions has no monument to commemorate it at the spot where it started, there is one for a far lesser upheaval four decades later. La Colonne de Juillet, the July Column, poking up in the cobblestone vastness of Place de la Bastille, honors Parisians who lost their lives in the Revolution of July 1830, which toppled Charles X, the last Bourbon king, and brought his cousin Louis-Philippe to power.
Victor Hugo watched the July Column going up in the early 1830s when he was a neighbor at the Place des Vosges. A “gigantic stove adorned with a stovepipe,” he called it. But the elephant was another story. This was a giant plaster and wood mock-up of an elephant that was supposed to be the centerpiece of a magnificent fountain dreamed up by Napoléon. The mock-up was built in 1812, but the empire collapsed before it could be bronzed. The poor pachyderm was removed from its base to make way for the “stovepipe” and shunted to the edge of the Place de la Bastille, near where the Opéra is now. Punished for decades by wind, sun, and rain, the aged eyesore moved Hugo deeply. In Les Misérables he wrote:
In that open and deserted corner of the Square, the broad front of the colossus, his trunk, his tusks, his size, his enormous rump, his four feet like columns, produced at night, under a starry sky, a startling and terrible outline. One couldn’t tell what it meant. It was a sort of symbol of the force of the people. It was gloomy, enigmatic, and immense. It was a mysterious and mighty phantom, visible standing by the side of the invisible specter of the Bastille.
In one of the most touching scenes in the novel, the resourceful street urchin Gavroche takes two little lost boys he finds wandering on Rue Saint-Antoine into the comfy nest he has built for himself in the belly of the beast, protected from the rats infesting the structure by a cage made of copper mesh appropriated from the Jardin des Plantes. The little boys are the brothers Gavroche did not know he had.
The story about the “Stovepipe” and the Elephant comes straight from the pages of David Burke’s excellent book Writers in Paris, Literary Lives in the City of Light. His principal work now is his series of literary walking tours. David Burke’s Writers in Paris Walking Tours: www.writersinpariswalkingtours.blogspot.fr
We missed seeing many of you at the opening, so please come by another time this week. The gallery is open today and Wednesday, 12PM to 7PM, Tuesday 2:30PM-7PM, and Thursday 12PM-8PM, as we will have a closing party from 6PM-8PM.
102 rue Cherche-Midi, 75006
Metro: Vaneau, Sevres-Babyone, Saint Placide
My Paris Apartment for Rent
I am renting my fabulous Paris apartment in the heart of the Marais near St. Paul metro, from November 30 to December 16, a total of 17 nights. It's a spacious one-bedroom 750 sq. ft. loft style apartment with 12 ft. ceilings, decorated in chic Mid-Century Modern furniture and sleeps two people in a Queen size bed. Amenities include washer/dryer, 16" flat screen TV, dishwasher, internet connection/Wifi and free long distance calls to the U.S. The apartment is located on the second floor with a large elevator.
The price is 2800 euros/165 per night for 17 nights, 1500 euros for 7 nights, and anything in between 7 & 15 nights, 175 euros per night. Minimum rental 7 nights or 1500 euros. Photos upon request.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
Tours cost 210 euros for up to 3 people, and 70 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour