March 2, 2017

Paris' Belle Epoche under the rain

Paris was at it's February best when I took my seat on the bus to reach our meeting point in front of the impressive Opera Garnier building. It was cold, it was windy and it was raining. Equipped with my doudoune coat, a black hat and a pink umbrella I was the last one to join the group... just in time!

The young Corsican-German tour guide was charming with delicate features and soft manners. How is he ever going to survive the jungle of Paris was the first thought that crossed my mind.

Sure enough he guided us across the grands boulevards warding off traffic and making sure we were admitted to places usually not easily accessible with a group of 20 chattering International Expats. Young Monsieur Henri highlighted the main places of Parisian aristocrats' and Grand bourgeois' life during the Belle Epoche.

During the second half of the 19th century from so-called French "Second Empire" to "Belle Epoque" era, Paris was probably the most well-known destination for leisure and shopping in Europe: Opera Garnier, Opera Comique, covered passages such as Galerie Vivienne or Passage Jouffroy, as well as historical bank headquarters and the French stock-exchange, le Palais Brongniart.

So although he might need to work on his story-telling a bit - for he knew his facts and figures - it was a pleasure following our aristocratic guide through "his" Paris on a rainy winter morning.

Streets and architecture were completely renewed under Napoleon III and his famous prefect Baron Haussmann. Nowadays the 9th arrondissement of Paris is still an exceptional illustration of these impressive changes.

The one and only ... 

A majestic historical bank headquarter...

... clearly inspired by the Chateau de Chambord

Passage Jouffroy

I wonder where that staircase leads to?!?

Paris' wax museum is definately worth a visit 

Pretending to be a shopper in the 19th century

Covered arcades used iron and glass, materials very new for their epoche

A merchand preparing for the local book fair

The poshest and most beautiful of all covered galleries

Details of the Gallerie Vivienne

Symbol of Hermes, messenger of the gods, god of trade, thieves, travelers, sports, athletes, border crossings and guide to the Underworld... I wonder what the architect was thinking?!?

With the raising of the bourgeoisie, these galleries were created in order to facilitate the connection between the city centre and the Grands Boulevards

Today they are a beautiful tourist attraction 

Some French sense of humour hidden between the lines

Your local city hall of the 9ème arrondissement 

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