Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Challenge 9: the Morrison Hotel Mystery

The death of Jim Morrison is not the only mystery in the Rue Beautreillis. On this street where the leader of The Doors spent the last few months of his life and where he (probably) died, another door stands curiously alone. This large stone gateway is the last remaining element of the Hotel Raoul, a historic house in the Marais, but why was it preserved when the rest of the building was demolished? This is the question that has been asked by one of my readers, Karen.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The prickly problem of the Russian Christmas tree

The tallest Christmas tree in Paris this December is also the thorniest. Standing almost half the height of the Notre Dame towers, this impressive evergreen was not paid for by parishioners or the city of Paris, but by the Russian government. With tensions running high between Moscow and other European capitals, this gift - or gesture of geopolitical grandstanding - is a feast for the eyes, but something of an embarrassment for the French state.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The last bastion standing

For nearly 80 years, the city of Paris was protected by thick walls and bastions known as the enceinte de Thiers or the fortifs. Today only one significant element of these fortifications remains standing, although this seems to be more by accident than design. Where is the Bastion n°1 and what purpose does it serve today? 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Challenge 8: what lies beneath?

Near the Parc Floral gardens in the Bois de Vincennes are two staircases that lead down to…a brick wall. What was their original purpose and what lies between the two? In this post you will find not only the answer to these two questions but also what this abandoned territory will be used for in the near future.

Friday, 17 October 2014

The life, death and afterlife of Auguste Comte

One of the most lastingly popular posts on this blog* - to my continual surprise - concerns Auguste Comte, the 19th century French philosopher behind the doctrine of positivism. Five years after making that post, I finally got around to visiting his Paris apartment and the secular chapel that was opened in his honour nearly 50 years after his death. Take a look inside both here.
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