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January 29, 2016

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Passage d’Eupatoria and its Sounds

by soundlandscapes

I CAME UPON IT by chance as I was walking alongside l’Eglise Notre Dame De La Croix in Ménilmontant in the 20th arrondissement. At just twenty-five metres long and five metres wide, the Passage d’Eupatoria is easily missed.

Passage D’Eupatoria - Ménilmontant

Passage d’Eupatoria Passage from rue d’Eupatoria

Opened in 1856 as the Passage de l’Alma, the name was changed on 1st February 1857 to Passage d’Eupatoria because it leads off the adjacent rue d’Eupatoria.

Passage D’Eupatoria - Ménilmontant

When I saw the street sign at the head of the passage I was curious about the name ‘Eupatoria’.

Had I known more European history of course, I would have known that Eupatoria is a Black Sea port in Crimea. It was briefly occupied in 1854 by British, French and Turkish troops during the Crimean War, when it was the site of the Battle of Eupatoria during which the Ottomans and their allies successfully defeated an assault by the Russians on the port.

It is after this battle that rue d’Eupatoria and subsequently the Passage d’Eupatoria are named.

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Bataille d’Eupatoria (1854). Huile sur bois. Musée des beaux-arts, Nantes.

Eupatoria is still a city of regional significance in Crimea (it’s known as Yevpatoria in Crimea), a region which, since March 2014, has been disputed between Ukraine (as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) and Russia (as the Republic of Crimea).

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Passage d’Eupatoria in 1948 © René-Jacques / BHVP / Roger-Viollet

Image courtesy of Paris en Images

Originally, the Passage d’Eupatoria was longer than it is today. A subsequent widening of some of the surrounding streets and the replacement of substandard buildings with newer ones resulted in the length of the passage being reduced.

Passage D’Eupatoria - Ménilmontant

Passage d’Eupatoria looking towards rue d’Eupatoria and L’Eglise Notre Dame De La Croix

Over the years, I’ve collected sounds from many small, inconspicuous looking Parisian streets and so I was keen to explore the sounds here, in the Passage d’Eupatoria. I walked to the wall at the end of the street, set up my microphones pointing towards rue d’Eupatoria, turned on my sound recorder and then walked away to explore the street.

Passage D’Eupatoria - Ménilmontant

I was expecting to capture little more than the sounds of the breeze rustling through the trees, maybe a little birdsong and undoubtedly the sound of traffic and people passing along rue d’Euparoria at the southern end of the passage.

What I actually captured were sounds that I had not expected.

Passage D’Eupatoria - Ménilmontant

Sounds in the passage d’Eupatoria:

Passage D’Eupatoria - Ménilmontant

I had become so absorbed in exploring the writing on the walls of the passage that I had completely failed to notice that a schoolyard ran along the eastern side of the passage. As I began record, children appeared in the yard and their unrestrained voices unexpectedly brought the Passage d’Eupatoria to life.

I don’t know how long the present school has been there but it’s not the first school in these parts.

For many years, the now demolished ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ school was located at N° 3 Passage d’Eupatoria and so, for me, the sound of today’s children playing alongside the street provided an audible link with the past.

Passage D’Eupatoria - Ménilmontant

L’Eglise Notre Dame De La Croix from Passage d’Eupatoria

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. hmunro
    Jan 30 2016

    Don’t you love the sound of a Parisian schoolyard? It always sounds a bit “Lord of the Flies” to me, in contrast to the otherwise sedate and well-behaved children one encounters running errands with their parents and playing with sailboats in the Luxembourg gardens. I can’t help but wonder if the pupils of the former Jeanne D’Arc school were equally rowdy during their recess …

    Reply
    • Feb 2 2016

      Thanks, Heather.
      I was so intrigued with the art on the walls that I really had no idea the school was there … at least not until the children came out to play.
      I expect children have been much the same throughout the ages. And these ones certainly livened up the street!

      Reply

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