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Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Posted by on November 20, 2019:  


This post is about the newer La Grande Arche (1982-1989) not the far more famous Arc De Triomphe (1806-1836).

La Grande Arche de la Défense is a monument and building in the business district of La Défense and in the commune of Puteaux, to the west of Paris, France. It is usually known as the Arche de la Défense or simply as La Grande Arche. A 110-metre-high (360 ft) cube, La Grande Arche is part of the perspective from the Louvre to Arc de Triomphe. The distance from La Grande Arche to Arc de Triomphe is 4 km (2 1⁄2 miles).

Design and construction
A great national design competition was launched in 1982 as the initiative of French president François Mitterrand. Danish architect Johan Otto von Spreckelsen (1929–1987) and Danish engineer Erik Reitzel (1941-2012) designed the winning entry to be a late-20th-century version of the Arc de Triomphe: a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals rather than military victories. The construction of the monument began in 1985. Spreckelsen resigned in July 1986 and ratified the transfer of all his architectural responsibilities to his associate, French architect Paul Andreu. Reitzel continued his work until the monument was completed in 1989.

From the courtyard of La Grande Arche de Defense, in the distance, two miles to the east, down a classic Paris tree-lined avenue is the famed Arc de Triomphe

The Arche is in the approximate shape of a cube with a width, height and depth of 110 m (360 ft); it has been suggested that the structure looks like a hypercube (a tesseract) projected onto the three-dimensional world. It has a prestressed concrete frame covered with glass and Carrara marble from Italy and was built by the French civil engineering company Bouygues.

La Grande Arche was inaugurated in July 1989, with grand military parades that marked the bicentennial of the French Revolution. It completed the line of monuments that forms the Axe historique running through Paris. The Arche is turned at an angle of 6.33° about the vertical axis. The most important reason for this turn was technical: with a métro station, an RER station, and a motorway all situated directly underneath the Arche, the angle was the only way to accommodate the structure's giant foundations. In addition, from an architectural point of view, the turn emphasizes the depth of the monument and is similar to the turn of the Louvre at the other end of the Axe historique.

Grande Arche at night
In addition, the Arche is placed so that it forms a secondary axis with the two of the highest buildings in Paris at the time, the Tour Eiffel and the Tour Montparnasse.

The two sides of the Arche house government offices. The roof section was closed in 2010 following an accident without injury and opened again to the public in 2017 after seven years of renovation works. It features panoramic views of Paris and includes a restaurant and an exhibition area dedicated to photojournalism.—Wikipedia.
Christmas at La Grande Arche

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


CENTURY AGO—Sylvia Beach, an American ex-pat in Paris opened Shakespeare & Company Bookstore in Paris on November 19, 1919.  Above, is her 2nd location at 12 Rue de L'Odeon (far right), which she operated from 1922 to 1941 shown here in 1939.  
 Shakespeare & Company, the bookstore founded by American ex-pat Sylvia Beach opened its doors on November 19, 1919.  For the next 20 years the shop became the vortex of a literary whirlwind, which transformed literature in France, England and the United States. Located in Paris at 12 rue de l’Odéon, the shop was half bookstore and half lending library. It attracted the great expat writers of the time—Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Eliot, Pound—including some of the century’s most compelling female voices: Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, Janet Flanner, Kay Boyle, and Mina Loy.

The bookstore was also frequented by celebrated French authors, such as André Gide, Paul Valéry, and Jules Romains.
CIRCA 1920--Sylvia Beach poses with Irish author James Joyce in Paris in front of her original shop at 8 Dupuytren. She is credited with providing the funds, printing acumen, which led to her publishing the first edition of Joyce’s novel “Ulysses.” 
Beach’s shop served as the writers’ home away from home, postal address, and—when they were desperate—a loan service. Beach also helped usher in modern literature: she published her friend James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922 when no one else dared.

In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway wrote of Beach: “Sylvia had a lively, sharply sculptured face, brown eyes that were as alive as a small animal's and as gay as a young girl's . . . She was kind, cheerful and interested, and loved to make jokes and gossip. No one that I ever knew was nicer to me.”

SHOP No. 1—Posed with her “best customer,”Ernest Hemingway, after he returned wounded from his role in WWI, is bookstore owner Sylvia Beach at her original 8 Duputuren shop.  She moved the store in 1922 to 12 Rue de L’Odeon in 1922.

And French author André Chamson said that Beach “did more to link England, the United States, Ireland, and France than four great ambassadors combined.”Beach’s bookstore was open until 1941, when the Germans occupied Paris. One day that December, a Nazi officer entered her store and demanded Beach’s last copy of Finnegans Wake. Beach declined to sell him the book.
HIMSELVES—Among those who hung out at Sylvia Beach’s bookstore, included Ezra Pound (left to right) John Quinn, Ford Maddox Ford and James Joyce.

The officer said he would return in the afternoon to confiscate all of Beach’s goods and to close her bookstore. After he left, Beach immediately moved all the shop’s books and belongings to an upstairs apartment. In the end, she would spend six months in an internment camp in Vittel, and her bookshop would never reopen.

In 1959, Beach published her memoir, Shakespeare and Company, which begins with her childhood in America and ends with the liberation of Paris after the Second World War. Beach passed away in 1962 in Paris.

TODAY readers will find a third location for Shakespeare & Company in Paris.  This one is located at 37 Rue de la Bucherie—not far from the Seine.  This location, owned by the Whitman Family, was not associated with Sylvia Beach.

Monday, November 18, 2019


Editor’s note: This week we celebrate the City of Light.  All week we deleve into all this Parisian in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Company Book Store.  See coverage of Ms. Beach triumph on November 19, 1919.  But for now let’s visit the City of Light from outer space.

Here’s NASA’s account of the images.

Around local midnight, astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of Paris, often referred to as the “City of Light.” The pattern of the street grid dominates at night, providing a completely different set of visual features from those visible during the day. For instance, the winding Seine River is a main visual cue by day, but here the thin black line of the river is hard to detect until you focus on the strong meanders and the street lights on both banks.

The brightest boulevard in the dense network of streets is the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the historical axis of the city, as designed in the 17th century. Every year on Bastille Day (July 14), the largest military parade in Europe processes down the Champs Élysées, reviewed by the President of the Republic. This grand avenue joins the royal Palace of the Tuileries—whose gardens appear as a dark rectangle on the river—to the star-like meeting place of eleven major boulevards at the Arc de Triomphe.

This famous plaza is also referred to as the Étoile, or “star.”
The many forested parks of Paris stand out as black polygons—such as the Bois de Boulogne and Vincennes. Even the lit paths through the Bois de Boulogne can be seen clearly in the closeup image.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


“One of the thousands upon thousands of cafés on the boulevards of Paris.” Pen and ink illustration by American artist William James Glackens (1870–1938) for Dreiser’s essay on Paris in the October 1913 issue of Century Magazine; reproduced in Dreiser’s book A Traveler at Forty, published later that same year.
Editor’s note: This week we celebrate the City of Light.  All week (beginning today) we delve into all things Parisian in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Company Book Store.  See coverage of Ms. Beach triumph on November 19, 1919.  But for now, let’s revisit American author Theodore Dreiser's love letter to Paris.


An excerpt from “Americans in Paris: a literary anthology.”
By Theodore Dreiser, American, [1871-1945]

As we neared Paris he had built this city up so thoroughly in my mood that I am satisfied that I could not have seen it with a realistic eye if I had tried. It was something—I cannot tell you what—Napoleon, the Louvre, the art quarter, Montmartre, the gay restaurants, the boulevards, Balzac, Hugo, the Seine and the soldiery, a score and a hundred things too numerous to mention and all greatly exaggerated.

I hoped to see something which was perfect in its artistic appearance—exteriorly speaking. I expected, after reading George Moore and others, a wine-like atmosphere; a throbbing world of gay life; women of exceptional charm of face and dress; the bizarre, the unique, the emotional, the spirited.

At Amiens, I had seen enough women entering the trains to realize that the commonplace of the English woman was gone. Instead the young married women that we saw were positively daring compared to what England could show—shapely, piquant, sensitive, their eyes showing a birdlike awareness of what this world has to offer.

I fancied Paris would be like that, only more so; and as I look back on it now I can honestly say that I was not greatly disappointed. It was not all that I thought it would be, but it was enough. It is a gay, brilliant, beautiful city, with the spirit of New York and more than the distinction of London.  It is like a brilliant, fragile child—not made for contests and brutal battles, but gay beyond reproach.

Source: From Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology
(Library of America, 2004), pages 202–10.
Originally published in A Traveler at Forty (1913).