Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Paris’ Category

prisoner n° 280–the widow capet–& her défenseur officieux

Lock her up!  Lock her up!  Lock her up!  —Attorney General Jeff Sessions & conservative high students during a speech

Off with his head! Off with his head! Off with his head!  —Queen of Hearts

“How many did they say?” “I do not understand you.” “—At the last post. How many to the Guillotine to-day?” “Fifty-two.” “I said so! A brave number! My fellow-citizen here would have it forty-two; ten more heads are worth having. The Guillotine goes handsomely. I love it. Hi forward. Whoop!”—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

On the way to the guillotine, she collapsed in the tumbrel and cried “You are going to hurt me! Why?!” Terrified, she screamed for mercy and begged the indifferent crowd for help. Her last words to the executioner were: “One more moment, Mr. Executioner, I beg you!”  –Madame du Barry, on 8 December 1793.

Claude François Chauveau-Lagarde.  That was his name, Marie-Antoinette’s lawyer.  He tried to save her from the guillotine.  He nearly lost his head, too.

He is my neighbor.  Around the corner from my apartment and on the other side of the wall of the cimetière de Montparnasse, he rests in Division 1.  The street near Chemin Circulaire in the cemetery, where he is buried, is named allée Chauveau-Lagarde.  His marker says simply, “CI-GIT CHAUVEAU-LAGARDE AVOCAT DE LA REINE AU PROCES DE 1793.’

At a crucial, dramatic moment during the French Revolution, he was asked to defend several men and women who were charged for high crimes before the Revolutionary Tribunal and faced execution by guillotine.  He had a title, which did not exist before the Revolution, of défenseur officieux, or public defender.

Among his ‘clients’ were several women who were major figures in their own right and at their deaths showed great courage, according to contemporary accounts.  For example, he was the advocate for Madame Élisabeth (sister of King Louis XVI), Charlotte Corday (assassin of Jean-Paul Marat), Marie-Antoinette (the last Queen of France), and Madame Roland (a supporter of the French Revolution and influential member of the Girondist faction).

I learned about Chauveau-Lagarde, un défenseur au tribunal révolutionnaire, for the first time, when I visited the Chapelle expiatoire in the Square Louis XVI and saw the exposition Chauveau-Lagarde avocat de Marie-Antoinette. But wait, there’s more!

un moment après être descendu du #28 bus

When you are inquisitive, Jane, you always make me smile. You open your eyes like an eager bird, and make every now and then a restless movement, as if answers in speech did not flow fast enough for you, and you wanted to read the tablet of one’s heart.  ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.  —Marcel Proust

Where I live in Paris, the bus routes are convenient.  I am in the south of Paris near the catacombs, Montparnasse Cemetery, and Denfert-Rochereau.  The bus lines from there, #38, #68, and #28, run north and south, more or less, and fan out to the northwest corner, to Place Clichy, or through the center to the Gare du Nord.  Those lines will take me to the Seine, or nearby,  where I can transfer to an east-west route, or vice-versa.  Within a short time I can be most any where in Paris.

Some days I will choose a bus, not knowing where I am going, and spontaneously get off and walk.  I might choose to get off near the Seine and transfer to another bus and then get off in a quartier where I have not lately explored.

Previously, I had suggested in a series of posts that one can have a wonderful tourist experience in Paris that does not require focussing one’s attention on the major tourist attractions.  What you need is a willingness to walk, or to take a bus, a resolve to choose a restaurant wisely, and to look around when you walk.  A wonderful day will happen.

One day I chose to take the #28 bus to the end of the line for no reason other than I had not done it, ever.  I looked at the stops for the bus route and its destination and noticed it wound its way toward the northwest corner and the west side of Paris.

However, the bus did not go all the way to the end.  It stopped near the Ecole Militaire where another bus #28 took you the final distance.  Once it stopped, I decided I wanted to walk.  I had changed my plans.  I considered crossing the Seine and heading to the Square Louis XVI, the place where King Louis VI and Marie Antoinette had once been buried.

After looking at the map on my phone for directions and then in my contact list of restaurants, I saw that the Restaurant Mollard was not far from the Square: a tourist destination (Square Louis XVI), a potentially good restaurant (Restaurant Mollard), and I was walking a good distance to get there.  All three criteria were present for a wonderful day.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

But wait, there’s more!

on the doors, doors, and porte-cochères

I got back on the runway and took all of it and some of the hedge and gave the front door the heavy shoulder. This was foolish. About the only part of a California house you can’t put your foot through is the front door. All it did was hurt my shoulder and make me mad.  ― Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep.

Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.  ― Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

L’année dernière, j’ai emménagé dans une maison en Normandie dans laquelle, pour la première fois de ma vie, j’ai un bureau avec une porte fermée, une pièce à moi.  –Agnès Desarthe, La Chance de Leur Vie.

In 1967 I saw the Doors before they released their first album, The Doors.  They performed at a dance at the Masonic Temple in Portland.  I assumed it was a dance, because the hall had no chairs.  Few were dancing though.  Like spectators watching a theatrical production, we were more captivated by Jim Morrison’s singing and prancing on the stage.

I understand it was Morrison who suggested the name for the band.  He was inspired by Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception which was in turn a reference to a William Blake quotation, ”If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

A significant change to the architectural design of Paris buildings and homes occurred in the 1600’s during the reign of Louis XIV.

In the Seven Ages of ParisAlistair Horne writes, “Strict rules were laid down: private dwellings had to be built of stone, instead of the fire-prone timber frames and lath and plaster of earlier ages . . . . More ornate interiors were counterpointed by sober simplicity in exterior design. External modesty was also a feature of the grand hôtels particuliers of the epoch (and indeed of later ones), where extensive private gardens and displays of conspicuous consumption within lay concealed from public gaze behind a sombre porte-cochère [carriage entrance] which gave on to the street.”

But wait, there’s more!

looking for hemingway & his apartments, a triangle, part 3

Imagine a triangle overlaying the center of Paris on the right bank, and the Jardin du Luxembourg is in the center.  The north tip points more or less at Saint-Sulpice or maybe further to Saint-Germain-des-Prés.  The west point is somewhere near La Closerie des Lilas, and the eastern point is in the Mouffetard area.  It is an awkward triangle, maybe not an equilateral triangle, but it does the three points.

Inside the triangle was the world of Hemingway when he lived in Paris in the 1920’s.  Except for an apartment on rue Froidevaux, where he stayed briefly, he rented apartments near the Jardin du Luxembourg and he spent a good deal of time walking there and through it to the cafés in the Montparnasse area.

His apartments, his favorite cafés, Gertrude Stein, the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, the Jardin du Luxembourg where he loved to walk, the restaurants where he liked to eat, all can be found within the triangle, more or less, fudging a bit, serving my ends for the moment.

In 1921 Ernest Hemingway and Hadley, his first wife, arrived in Paris and moved into an apartment on rue du Cardinal Lemoine.  He rented a small room around the corner on rue Descartes for the purpose of a writing studio.  Hadley became pregnant and the two left Paris in August, 1923 for Toronto where she gave birth.  One can find some comments on this part of his life in “looking for hemingway’s paris and the génération perdue, part 1.”

The couple and their son returned to Paris in February, 1924 and moved into an apartment at 113, rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs.  It was down the street from La Closerie des Lilas where he wrote much of The Sun Also Rises.  Ezra Pound lived nearby at 70 bis, rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs.  He helped edit Hemingway’s writing and in turn Hemingway gave him boxing lessons. But wait, there’s more!