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25
Jan

Rue Charlemagne – A Soundwalk

RUE CHARLEMAGNE IS a street in the Marais quarter of the 4th arrondissement of Paris. It stretches for 236 metres from rue Saint-Paul to the junction of rue de Fourcy and rue des Nonnains-d’Hyères.

01

The green arrow shows my soundwalk along rue Charlemagne

Rue Charlemagne – A Soundwalk:

There’s been a street of some sort hereabouts since the middle of the 14th Century and during its lifetime it has had a variety of names. Originally known as rue de Jouy, the street became rue de l’Abbé-de-Jouy, rue de la Fausse-Poterne, rue de la Fausse-Poterne-Saint-Paul, rue de l’Archet-Saint-Paul and rue des Prêtres-Saint-Paul.

Rue Charlemagne

The name, rue Charlemagne, dates from 1844 and it comes from the name of the school in the street, the Lycée Charlemagne, which in turn is named after Charlemagne, or Charles I, King of the Franks, who united most of Western Europe during the Middle Ages and laid the foundations for modern France and Germany.

Rue Charlemagne

Rue Charlemagne looking from East to West

The Lycée Charlemagne is a significant feature of the street. It was founded by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1804 although it occupies buildings that are very much older and were once home to the Order of Jesuits.

Rue Charlemagne

Main entrance to the Lycée Charlemagne

Today, the Lycée offers two-year courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering science preparing students for entry to the Grandes écoles.

Rue Charlemagne

Another significant feature of rue Charlemagne are the longest surviving remains of the Philippe Auguste Wall.

Rue Charlemagne

Remains of the Philippe Auguste wall

Before leaving for the Third Crusade, Philip II of France (Philippe Auguste) ordered a stone wall to be built to protect Paris in his absence. The wall was built between 1190 and 1215 and it was 5,100 metres long, between six and eight metres high and enclosed an area of 253 hectares.

Rue Charlemagne

These remains of the Philippe Auguste wall stretch from rue Charlemagne along the Jardins Saint-Paul but on the corner with rue Charlemagne are the remains of the Tour Montgomery named after Gabriel, comte de Montgomery, a French nobleman and a captain in King Henry II’s Scots Guards.

Rue Charlemagne

Remains of le Tour Montgomery

Montgomery is remembered for mortally wounding King Henry in a jousting accident. For a short time after the accident, Montgomery was imprisoned in what became the Tour Montgomery. From his deathbed Henry absolved Montgomery of any blame, but, finding himself disgraced, Montgomery retreated to his estates in Normandy. There he studied theology and converted to Protestantism, making him an enemy of the state.

Rue Charlemagne

Fontaine Charlemagne

Next to the Lycée Charlemagne is the Fontaine Charlemagne, a decorative fountain built against the presbytery wall of the church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis. On the pediment above the fountain are the Coat of Arms of the City of Paris and the Roman numerals indicating the year 1840, the year the fountain was created.

Rue Charlemagne

The fountain itself comprises a niche decorated with aquatic plants and animals and a cast iron basin supported by dolphins with a statue of a child holding a seashell over his head.

Rue Charlemagne

At the eastern end of rue Charlemagne is a courtyard with a cluster of art and antique shops.

Rue Charlemagne

Rue Charlemagne

As I walked along rue Charlemagne recording the sounds around me, I came upon some children playing football in the Jardins Saint-Paul in the shadow of the Philippe-Auguste wall.

Rue Charlemagne

Jardins Saint-Paul

As I approached, some of these children spilled over into rue Charlemagne itself just below the Tour Montgomery and from there they seemed to form an unexpected centrepiece to my soundwalk.

Rue Charlemagne

Rue Charlemagne looking from East to West

18
Jan

Showtime in the Champs Élysées

AFTER THE SPECTACULAR sound and light show attended by some 600,000 people in the Champs Élysées the night before, New Year’s Day 2015 saw la plus belle avenue du monde filled with marching bands, colourful floats and circus performers for le défilé du jour de l’An, the New Year’s Day parade.

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Organised by the association, Le Monde Festif, under the chairmanship of the celebrated showman, Marcel Campion, the parade consisted of musicians, clowns, jugglers and acrobats from five famous circuses (Pinder, Bouglione, Muller, Phoenix and Romanès), as well as fifteen marching bands from a dozen countries and a fleet of classic cars and decorated floats.

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

I spent the afternoon of New Year’s Day in the Champs Élysées capturing the sounds and savouring the atmosphere.

Showtime in the Champs Élysées:

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

Champs Elysées - New Year’s Day Parade

12
Jan

Charlie Hebdo March – Vive la Liberté

IT WAS THE LARGEST number of people ever to fill the streets of Paris. Somewhere between one-and-a-half and two million people stretching from Place de la République to Place de la Nation in a display of unity and solidarity.

Place de la République - Charlie Hebdo

Last week, two gunmen killed twelve people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo while another man murdered a police officer and then four hostages at a kosher supermarket in the east of Paris. These tragic events left the city and the country shocked but unbowed.

Rue Nicolas Appert - Charlie Hebdo

The offices of Charlie Hebdo where the attack took place

Rue Nicolas Appert - Charlie Hebdo

Outside the Charlie Hebdo offices after the attack

Boulevard Richard Lenoir - Charlie Hebdo

Tributes left at the site where the police officer, Ahmed Merabet, was shot in the head as he lay wounded in the street.

Rue Nicolas Appert - Charlie Hebdo

Over the last sixteen years, I’ve witnessed countless marches and demonstrations in Paris but I’ve never experienced anything quite like Sunday’s march.

The march was attended by over forty heads of government from Europe and the Middle east but the day was not about them – it was about ordinary people standing up and being counted; ordinary people demonstrating the power of unity and freedom of expression over fanaticism and terror.

Vive la France – Vive la Liberté!

Sounds of the Charlie Hebdo march:

Place de la République - Charlie Hebdo

Place de la République - Charlie Hebdo

Place de la République - Charlie Hebdo

Place de la République - Charlie Hebdo

Place de la République - Charlie Hebdo

Place de la République - Charlie Hebdo

Boulevard Voltaire - Charlie Hebdo

Place de la République - Charlie Hebdo

Boulevard Voltaire - Charlie Hebdo

Boulevard Voltaire - Charlie Hebdo

Boulevard Voltaire - Charlie Hebdo

Boulevard Voltaire - Charlie Hebdo

Rue Nicolas Appert - Charlie Hebdo

8
Jan

“Je Suis Charlie”

WHAT A DIFFERENCE a day makes!

Shortly before 11.00 this morning I arrived in Place Jean-Paul II, the open space in front of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, to find that it was home to a selection of the world’s media. Radio and TV broadcasters were busy establishing satellite links with their studios and preparing to broadcast ‘live’ to their audiences around the world.

Notre Dame - Charlie Hebdo

Yet twenty-four hours earlier the media would have been hard pressed to find a story here – any story – let alone a story worth reporting. But then, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, everything changed.

Notre Dame - Charlie Hebdo

Shortly before 11.30 yesterday morning, 7th January, two masked gunmen armed with Kalashnikov rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher stormed the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in rue Nicolas Appert in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. They shot and killed twelve people, including eight Charlie Hebdo employees and two police officers, and wounded eleven others.

After the news broke, there was an outpouring of sympathy for the victims, support for freedom of speech, and defiance against the perpetrators. The symbol for all this became encapsulated by the declaration, “Je Suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”).

03

At midday today people in Paris and across France paused for a minute of silence to mourn the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Notre Dame - Charlie Hebdo

In declaring today a day of national mourning it was decreed that flags on all public buildings should be flown at half mast and that the bells of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris should be rung in honour of the victims.

The Bells of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris speaking for the nation:

From the Place Jean-Paul II I listened as the cathedral bells began to peal a minute or two before midday. The rain fell, a crowd gathered and then the sound of the bells faded and the crowd fell silent. The sound of a police siren in the distance reminded us why we were here and brought into stark relief the names of those who were not, those who were murdered at around this time yesterday …

  • Frédéric Boisseau, 42, building maintenance worker for Sodexo, killed in the lobby
  • Franck Brinsolaro, 49, police officer, was assigned as a bodyguard for Charb
  • Cabu (Jean Cabut) 76, cartoonist
  • Elsa Cayat, 54, psychoanalyst and columnist
  • Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier), 47, cartoonist, columnist and editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo
  • Philippe Honoré, 74, cartoonist
  • Bernard Maris, 68, economist, editor, and columnist
  • Ahmed Merabet, 42, police officer, shot in the head as he lay wounded on the ground outside.
  • Moustapha Ourad, proofreader
  • Michel Renaud, 69, festival organiser, a guest at the meeting
  • Tignous (Bernard Verlhac), 57, cartoonist
  • Georges Wolinski, 80, cartoonist

After the silence the bells began to peal again and they did so for a further twenty minutes. Despite the heavy rain, practically everyone stayed until the bells had finished after which there was spontaneous applause.

It seemed to me that the silence, surrounded by the sound of the bells and the sound of the rain falling like tears from the sky said everything that needed to be said.

Notre Dame - Charlie Hebdo

The remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo have announced that publication will continue, with next week’s edition of the newspaper to be released as usual except that, with eight pages, it will be half its usual length – but it will have a print run of one million copies compared to its usual 60,000.

Notre Dame - Charlie Hebdo