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September 12, 2012

3

Alésia

by soundlandscapes

DID YOU KNOW that the Battle of Alésia is the oldest event commemorated on the Paris Métro? It took place in France in 52 BC when the Romans took on the Celts.

The Romans were led by Caesar and the Celts by Vercingétorix and the Romans won when Vercingétorix eventually surrendered. Vercingétorix was banished to Rome and after spending six years in prison Caesar had him strangled to death.

A more recent piece of history associated with the Alésia Métro station is this wonderful 1960’s Métro sign. Very few of these were used so this one is quite rare.

Next to the Alésia Métro station is the church of Saint-Pierre de Montrouge with its tall bell tower looking out over the centre of the quartier, the Place Victor-et-Hélène-Basch. The church was built in 1863 by the French architect Joseph Auguste Émile Vaudremer who was noted for building several public buildings including Paris’s Prison de la Santé.

I was in the 14th arrondissement on Saturday in the Alésia quartier and I went into the church to find that it was all decked out for a wedding. So, with my sound recorder to hand I was once again in the right place at the right time!

The Bride Arrives:

I didn’t stay for the entire service but I did stay long enough to see the bride enter the church and to hear the organist improvise brilliantly when it became clear that bride’s walk up the aisle was going to extend beyond the end of the music!

As the service got underway I left and walked across the street to a café where I toasted the happy couple and became engaged in a fascinating conversation with an elderly gentleman sitting next to me.

The Bells:

Before I knew it, the church bells were ringing as the service came to an end. Family and friends gathered outside the church waiting for the bride and groom to appear while I watched from the café. I raised a glass and wished them well.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great photos as usual! I didn’t know about the Alésia connection, very interesting. In the earlier days of the subway the city’s Metro system had a competitor who also built an underground system and tried to differentiate their station décor from the others — I wonder if that could be the reason for that different-looking Metro sign…

    Reply
    • Sep 14 2012

      Thanks for the comment Corey. Yes, there was a second Métro company in the early days and they did have distinctive signage but this example is from the 1960’s long after the two companies had been combined. It was part of an attempt to modernise the Métro in the 1950’s and 1960’s when several different signs were tried out. I don’t know about you, but I rather like this particular sign.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the clarification. It’s true I had my doubts that this sign looked old enough to be part of the original system; I guess the historical dreamer in me was getting a bit carried away. 🙂

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