Monday, July 21, 2014

Quaint Paris

Every two steps we took in Paris there was something to discover.We had to focus and keep moving to see just a few spots on our list otherwise we wouldn't have gone too far. That was one of the many reasons we have to go back there to take in every nook and cranny, new or historical, that make this city interesting and full of surprises.

These are just a few of the wonderful stops we took.

The Fontaine Saint-Michel, constructed in 1860 by Gabriel Davioud is a delightful fountain and a nice meeting/resting place. The central figure is the Archangel Michael wrestling with the devil.

Doors are delightful. It is interesting to see different kinds all around the world, with often unique door knobs and handles. These examples were just a handful we managed to photograph, but there were so many more picturesque ones that we couldn't walk over each time to take a picture of it. Kept our focus!

 There are several signposts for the Metro stations that are worthy of a second look. The Metro's original Art Nouveau entrances are iconic, designed by Hector Guimard in 1899. Out of 180 original signposts designed, only about 80 or so remain. The rest were replaced in a wave of modernization without realizing the artistic importance of these objects that add to the charm of Paris.

Art Nouveau is an international style of decoration and architecture in the 1880s and 1890s that drew inspiration from nature and natural forms. The gate below on the left has curvilinear lines and was inspired by vines and flowers. Symmetrical, floral lights frame the Metro sign, both lighting the entrance and advertising the Métropolitan.

The Métro signposts were a 1920s innovation of the Nord-Sud company. The Val d'Osne design consists of a globe-shaped lamp atop a "MÉTRO" sign surrounded by an ornate cast-iron frieze. The simpler Dervaux lampposts as on the right below, (named after their architect) became common in the 1930s, following the contemporary trend away from decorative embellishment.

Avanti la Musica is a quaint little shop selling wind-up musical boxes at the street opposite the Notre Dame on Quai de la Tournelle. The owner is a delightful lady who'll have a little chat with you in English and show you some nice pieces, all of which are made by her husband himself.

Parisians love their pets! There were many roaming the streets with their owners. Also, they realise that begging with a dog at your side gets more money in the hat. This little one was tied to a bench with a note saying his mom was inside the building and will be out soon.

The Parapluies Simon had gorgeous designer (read expensive) umbrellas on display but we didn't venture in. The sign board held more fascination for us.

 Night time was even more mesmerising. The Luxor Obelix at Place de la Concorde was a gift from Egypt and originally at the entrance to Amon Temple in Luxor, Egypt. It is more than 3,300 years old and is decorated with hieroglyphics portraying the reigns of the Pharaohs Ramses II and Ramses III. The square where it's housed was infamous as many revolutionaries were beheaded here. If you look closely, it also has an assembly manual etched on the side since it had to be dismantled while shipping.

The Grand Palais looks stunning at night with the French flag fluttering at the top of the dome.

Finally, the Fontaines de la Concorde are 2 stunning fountains placed next to each other in front of the Tuileries gardens. They were designed by Jacques Ignace Hittorff in 1840. The Maritime Fountain commemorates the maritime commerce and industry of France, and the Fountain of the Rivers (below) commemorates navigation and commerce on the rivers of France. The central figures were created in cast-iron, whereas the 12 Triton and mermaid statues (6 in each fountain) were cast in bronze. The fountain below is adorned with allegorical figures representing the Rhone and the Rhine, the arts of the harvesting of flowers and fruits, harvesting and grape growing; and the geniuses of river navigation.

So much to see, so little time!

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