Archive for the ‘Trivia’ Category
Ascenseur pour l’Échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) is a 1958 film noir classic by Louis Malle. Miles Davis, who was in town to play at the Club Saint-Germain, was commissioned to compose the soundtrack. He and his sidemen showed up at the studio and improvised the entire soundtrack using only a few harmonic cues from Davis while watching key sequences of the film. The resulting soundtrack is a classic in its own right. However, the combined forces of Davis and Malle and lead-actress Jeanne Moreau’s smoldering screen presence over a late fifties Paris backdrop is enough to make even those too young to remember the film coming out nostalgic for the Paris of the late 50s and early 60s.
A period film taking place in Paris, Hugo Cabret is Scorcese’s first 3D movie. Parts of the film were shot in in the capital last summer, and it is due to come out later this year. Hugo stars Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz. “Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.”(synopsis from IMDb).
Below are some behind-the-scenes pictures from the film shoot in the 5th and 9th arrondisements of Paris. 30 vintage vehicles from the 30s were used, and the producers had to coordinate a team of 250 technicians and 250 extras. Over three days scenes were shot in the Sorbonne, Bibliothèque Saint-Geneviève, place Edouard VII, square Louis-Jouvet and rue Boudreau, as well as the interior of the Théâtre de l’Athénée-Louis-Jouvet.
Photos ©GK Films LLC, Mairie de Paris
The fortress-prison has since been demolished, but the area where the French Revolution began on July 14, 1789, can still be visited. This infamous prison kept guard over common criminals as well as religious dissenters and pamphleteers. Freethinkers and polemicists like Voltaire and the Marquis de Sade also had their sejours in the Bastille.
The main purpose of storming the Bastille was to secure gunpowder and ammunition, and came after several days of unrest. The Third Estate, made up of commoners, was locked out of the meeting of the Estates-General by the king. Feeling a crackdown by the king was imminent, the commoners decided to arm themselves.
Today, in place of the fortress-prison, is the Opera de Bastille. In the center of Place de Bastille is the Colonne de Juille, which is a commemoration to another revolution in 1830. Parts of the fortress were excavated while digging the tunnel for the LIne 1 metro in 1899. These remnants have been moved nearby and can be seen in the square Henri-Galli, some 500 meters away at the intersection of quai des Célestins and Boulevard Henri IV. (see on Google maps)
The storming of the Hôtel des Invalides came before Bastille. Here the demonstrators obtained muskets, but still needed gunpowder and ammunition. Their attention was thus turned towards the Bastille.
Formerly the seat of the medieval kings of France, at the end of the 13th century the palace was converted for use as a prison after the king moved to the Louvre. During the revolution’s bloodiest phase, the Reign of Terror, La Conciergerie was known as the “antechamber to the guillotine”. The Revolutionary Tribunal was housed here and as well as some 1200 prisoners. It was here that Marie Antoinette, as prisoner number 280, spent her last days.
Place de la Concorde
Formerly named Place Louis XV, during the revolution the King’s statue was torn down, the Place was renamed Place de la Révolution, and guillotines were set up. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed here.
Now renamed Place de la Concorde, today a 23-meter tall obelisk stands in the center, given to the French by the Egyptian government in the nineteenth century.
Jardin des Tuileries
At the beginning of the French Revolution Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were brought to the Tuileries Palace. They were kept here under heavy surveillance after a failed attempt to flee France. Eventually a mob stormed the palace and the King’s Swiss guards were chased out into the gardens and massacred.
By the way, all of these places are listed on Paris M&M, our iPhone app. Using your phone’s GPS location, it will point out which sites of revolutionary Paris are closest, and how to get to the others.
As you know with the launch of Paris M&M, our free iPhone app, we here at Paris Museums love serendipity when it comes to exploring this vast city. But, just like a jazz musician improvises from a base of bebop scales, a little guidance always makes your journeys more enjoyable.
The Mairie de Paris (Paris City Hall) keeps this in mind with its Heritage Strolls. They are not associated with any of the organized tours, and each stroll is organized by a different theme. Just print out the documents (linked below) and follow whatever portion of the routes interest you the most. The Mairie says you’ll be tempted to duck into many of the museums along the way. Our app, which utilizes the built-in GPS of your iPhone, is perfect for keeping you informed of what attraction is closest to you.
- The Vestiges of Ancient Paris Stroll: Discover the city’s rich ancient Roman heritage
- The Great Minds Stroll: Walk in the footsteps of great thinkers like Rousseau, Compte, Diderot and Voltaire
- The Paris Bell-Tower Stroll: A tour of some of Paris’ impressive Bell Towers
- The Mosaics Stroll: Thanks to their popularity at the turn of the century, mosaics can be found in edifices all over the city. This is a tour of some of the most remarkable among them
- The Paris Bridge-and-Statue Stroll: Explore some of the most notable bridges and statues along the world-famous Seine
- The Knights and Horses Stroll: A historic swath of the city punctuated by statues of military heroes featuring, for the most part, horses
Distraught because you only have a few days in Paris, with so many things to see? There just might be a solution. There is a checklist of requirements, however, and in 1976 French film director Claude Lelouch met them all:
1) Balls of steel? check
2) In possession of a Ferrari 275GTB? check
3) A general disregard for pigeons and red lights? check
4) Up at 5:30 in the morning? check
5) Late for a date with a beautiful mademoiselle at the top of Montmarte? check
6) Insane enough to make a date with said mademoiselle at 5:30 in the morning? check
The result as you see above is the infamous short film C’était un Rendezvous. Shot in one take, with a 35 millimeter camera mounted to the front of a car, the film shows a high-speed drive through the streets of Paris in the early morning hours. Starting at the Périphérique at Porte Dauphine, the car tears past some of Paris’ best-known monuments such as Arc de Triomphe, Opéra Garnier, Place de la Concorde and Champs-Élysées, ending up at the foot of the Basilique du Sacré Coeur atop Montmartre.
So much of Paris’ landscape has changed since 1976. Well worth a watch.
Pere Lachaise was originally constructed in 1804 in the 20eme arrondissement of Paris. As it was on the outskirts of the city center, few people chose to be buried there until cemetery administrators decided to move in some famous remains starting in the 1820s. The rest… is history. After the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, it is one of the most popular places to visit in Paris.
Covering a massive 44 hectares and containing over 100,000 burial places, Pere Lachaise is considered Paris’ most beautiful burial ground. At the cemetery’s main entrance from Boulevard de Ménilmontant, one can get a map listing the hundreds of famous remains within its walls. Traversing the maze-like paths and some of the steep climbs can take up a good portion of your day. In the summer, the best times to visit are in the morning.
Download a map of Pere Lachaise prior to your visit.
Here is a list of some of the celebrities buried in Pere Lachaise. Below are more pictures of famous resting spots.