Shadows on the Seine: Paris 1952

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The hydraulic engineer Belgrand built a water channel from the Marne River , and pumps to hoist the water up thirty-five meters to a lake in the park, which served to water the park and to fill the lakes, streams and cascades.

Davioud decorated the new park with fantasy temples, cafes kiosks and chalets. The park was completed with the addition of a racetrack, the Hippodrome de Vincennes , in , a public firing range for pistols, rifles, and archery; and the Imperial farm, with orchards, fields, sheep and cows, so the urban residents of Paris could see a real farm at work [28]. The Bois de Vincennes was the site of the cycling events of the Olympics , in a forty-thousand seat stadium built especially for that event.

The Park was also the site of two large Colonial Expositions, in and , celebrating the peoples and products France's empire. Several vestiges of the exhibits remain, including the old pavilion of French Cameroon , which was converted into a Buddhist temple and Institute in The Paris zoo was built for the exposition, and moved in to its present location in the east of the park, next to a sixty-five meter high man-made mountain, inhabited by alpine goats. The Parc des Buttes Chaumont , twenty-seven hectares in size in the north of the city, was an unpromising site for a garden; The soil was very poor, and the land bare of vegetation; its original name was "Chauvre-mont" or "bald hill.

From it served as a sewage dump, and much of the site had been used as a stone quarry. Alphand began to build in Two years and one thousand workers were required simply to terrace the site and to bring in two hundred thousand square meters of topsoil. A small railroad line was built to carry the earth. Gunpowder was used to blast the rock, and to sculpt the meter-high central promontory. A two hectare lake was dug at the foot of the promontory.

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Alphand laid out five kilometers of paths and roads, and Belgrand installed pumps and pipes to hoist water from the Ourq canal to supply the cascades and lake and water the new gardens. Davioud designed a grotto, using the tunnels of the old stone quarry; a circular temple, based on the Temple of Vesta, Tivoli , to crown the promontory, as well as four bridges to span the lake. The park opened in April 1, , the opening day of the Paris Universal Exposition. An urban legend says that bodies of Communards killing during the suppression of the Paris Commune are entombed inside the old stone quarries in the Promentory.

In fact bodies were placed there briefly for a short time after the fighting ended, but were buried in the city cemeteries soon afterwards. Parc Montsouris was the last of the four large parks created by Napoleon III at the four cardinal points of the compass around Paris. It was precisely south of the exact center of Paris- a monument in the park placed by Napoleon I indicated the prime meridian which French maps used until , instead of Greenwich, as the zero degree of longitude. Napoleon III decreed to construction of the park in , but purchasing the land took time, and work did not begin until Work was also delayed because several hundred corpses that had been placed in the catacombs of Paris , part of which lay under the park, had to be moved.

The park was inaugurated in , but was not actually finished until , under Alphand, who continued his work as the Director of Public Works of Paris under the French Third Republic. Parc Montsouris, It also had a remarkable folly: the Palais de Bardo, a reduced-scale replica of the summer residence of the beys of Tunis , which had originally been part of the Paris Universal Exposition of Made of wood and stucco, it was installed in the center of the park, where it served as a weather station, but gradually suffered from vandalism and neglect.

It burned down in , and was not replaced. He finished Parc Montsouris and several smaller squares, including square Boucicault now Square Maurice-Gardette and square d'Anvers Much of Alphand's abundant energy was devoted to the building of the universal expositions of and , each of which included extensive gardens. He was in charge of building the Paris Exposition of , including the construction of the Eiffel Tower. It was his last great project before his death in His most impressive accomplishment was the Serres d'Auteuil , an ensemble of greenhouses which provided flowers, trees and shrubs for all of the parks of Paris.

The Trocadero had originally been the site of a country house of Catherine de' Medici , then of a monastery, destroyed during the French Revolution. Under Napoleon III, Alphand had built a basin, paths radiating outwards, a large lawn, and a stairway descending from the hill down the edge of the river. When the site was chosen in for the part of the Paris Universal Exposition of , the architects Gabriel Davioud and Jules Bordais were chosen to construct the Palais de Trocadero, a massive temporary structure in a vaguely Moorish style, with large rotunda flanked by two towers, with curving wings on either side.

Sabine Weiss Photography

The gardens, designed by Alphand, occupied the slope from the Palace on the top of the hill down to the Seine. The center of the garden was occupied by a long series of cascades ending in a large basin at the bottom at the bottom of the hill. The largest piece of statuary in the garden was the head of the Statue of Liberty , made before the rest of the statue, and displayed in order to raise funds for its completion.

When the Exposition was finished, the gardens were redesigned into an English landscape garden ; groves of trees were planted, winding paths laid out, and a stream and grotto were constructed. The gardens remained in place for the Paris Universal Exposition of For the Paris International Exposition of the palace was replaced by a modernist structure and the fountains were rebuilt, but the picturesque gardens on the hillsidewere left as they were. See parks and gardens of the s below. The Champ de Mars , During the French Revolution it was the site of large patriotic festivals, including the Festival of the Supreme Being conducted by Robespierre in It was surrounded by a moat and not open to the public until , when Napoleon III filled in the moat and planted trees along the borders, but it still remained the property of the Army.

It was the site of the Paris Universal Exposition , which featured a large domed pavilion in the center, surrounded a garden, which itself surrounded by a large oval-shaped gallery.

Walking Paris's STUNNING Seine Riverside at Sunset

The rest of the Champ de Mars was occupied by exposition halls and extensive landscape gardens, designed by Alphand. A gigantic palace of glass and iron meters long occupied he center of the park, surrounded by gardens designed by Alphand. The space around the Eiffel tower and between the galleries and palaces was filled by a large landscape garden, which extended along the axis between the Eiffel Tower and the Seine, and ended at the river at a colossal fountain with a group of allegorical figures, called The City of Paris Illuminates the World with her Torch.

The fountain was lit at night by electric lights shining up from the water through plates of colored glass. It was used once more for the Paris Universal Exposition of , and, then, beginning in until , it was developed into a public park. It was an unusual site; it was the only large park in Paris not enclosed with a fence, and it was crossed by three major boulevards.

The huge Gallery of Machines, which occupied much of the site, was demolished in The long central axis was lined with paths and rows of trees; a basin with fountains was placed in the center; playgrounds were built along the sides. The original gardens from the exhibition, around the Eiffel Tower, were preserved in their original form and can still be seen.

Like other French formal gardens, it was best seen from above, in this case from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Several small parks were created between and the beginning of World War II. Square Laurent-Prache was created in on the north side of the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, on the site of the old Abbey of Saint-Germain, which was destroyed during the French Revolution in The wall of the church next to the park is decorated with gothic arcades taken from the destroyed Chapel of the Virgin.

The centerpiece of the park today is a bronze head made by Pablo Picasso in , in homage to the poet Apollinaire. Its most famous feature is the oldest living tree in Paris, a robinier , a variety of acacia , which was planted there in by the botanist Jean Robin. The park also contains a medieval well and fragments of gothic architecture from Notre-Dame Cathedral, taken out during its 19th-century restoration.

Jean-Charles Alphand's plan called for a park that would descend eighty meters from the parvis in front of the church to the street at the bottom of the hill. The work on the church began in the s, but proceeded very slowly, because of the difficulty of anchoring the church to the hillside, site of a former quarry. The Basilica was not dedicated until The original name of the park was Square Willette, but in , under the socialist government of Mayor Bernard Delenoye, it was renamed Square Louise Michel , after the anarchist and revolutionary who had played an active role in the Paris Commune.


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The s saw an important change in the style of Paris gardens. Beginning in the s, each Paris garden had a different designer, and the styles were varied. They tended to be more regular and more geometric, more like the classical French formal garden , and made greater use of sculpture, particularly the work of the modernist sculptors of the period. The gardens also tended to be smaller, and were placed in the outer neighborhoods, near the edge of the city. Several of the new parks were built on land which had been the old fortified zone around the city, a wide strip where no building was allowed, created between and by Adolphe Thiers.

The land was finally turned over to the city in , and supporters of green space urged that it be turned into a belt of parkland around the city, but instead the government of the Third Republic chose to use much of the land for public housing and industrial sites. Instead of a circular belt of green space, they built a series of small squares, including square du Serment du Koufra in the 14th arrondissement; square du Docteur-Calmette in the 15th arrondissement; and square Marcel-Sembat in the 18th arrondissement.

The major Paris architectural and landscape project of the s was the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in , on the hill of Chaillot.

The old Palace of Trocadero, which had been used in two previous exhibits, was demolished and replaced by a large terrace with a panoramic view of the Seine and Eiffel Tower, and by the modernist white Palais de Chaillot , with two wings which enveloped the top of the hill. The central element of the garden became a series of cascades, lined with statues, and a long basin containing rows of fountains and two powerful water cannon.

The basins, fountains and dramatic lighting at night were designed by Roger-Henri Expert , who also designed the interior decoration on the famous French ocean liner Normandie. Many of the statues from the exposition, by the leading French sculptors of the time, were kept in place after the Exposition, or found new homes in the other new city parks of the period.

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The Parc de la Butte-du-Chapeau-Rouge , originally known as the Square de la Butte-du-Chapeau-Rouge, in the 19th arrondissement, is one of a series of squares built in the old fortified zone which surrounded the city since the reign of Louis-Philippe. The broad lawns and winding paths took advantage of the steep slope and served as a showcase for sculpture. At the high end of the park, Two belvederes, reached by winding paths, offer panoramic views of the city. Parc Kellermann was built at the same time as the Square de la Butte-du-Chapeau-Rouge, at the southern end of the city, at the edge of the 13th arrondissement.

It was slightly larger than Chapeau-Rouge, 5.

River Bank with long shadows, Paris 1963

It originally served as a site for several of the several smaller pavilions of the Exposition. The upper part, bordered by boulevard Kellermann, is a s combination of classicism and modernism, with a cement portico, two brick excedres decorated with bas-relief sculptures in the s style; a large parterre and basin; and long tree-lined alleys. The upper part of the park today offers exceptional views of the city, but also suffers from the noise of the neighboring highway that circles Paris. In , Paris had twenty hectares of sports fields; In the Paris government published a plan to build an additional two hundred hectares of sports facilities and playing fields, mostly using the vacant land in the old fortified zone on the edge of the city.

The emphasis given to playgrounds and sports fields continued in the years after the War. The priorities of the successive French governments were the repair of the infrastructure destroyed by the War and building public housing. A number of squares were created, though most of the space was usually devoted to playgrounds rather than gardens.


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The new parks and squares included Squares Docteurs-Dejerine , Emmanuel-Fleury and Leon Frapie in the 20th arrondissement; Squares Emile-Cohl and Georges-Melies in the 12th arrondissement; the squares around the porte de Champerret in the 17th arrondissement; and the square de la Porte-de-Plaine in the 15th arrondissement. Square Andre-Ullmann , in the 17th arrondissement, is one of the typical postwar gardens; symmetrical and austere, it occupies a triangular space, with a pavilion with a rotunda in one corner, two alleys of plane trees, a central green, and bushes and shrubs carved into geometric shapes.

Square Emmanuel Fleury in the 20th arrondissement, with an area of 2. Square Sainte-Odile , in the 17th arrondissement, by landscape architect Jean Camand, was one of the first of a new model of gardens which appeared in the s and s; occupying a small space 1. The largest new garden created in Paris in the second part of the 20th century was the Parc floral de Paris, covering 31 hectares, which was built within the Bois de Vincennes in In and that park had been the site of a large international flower show, the Floralies internationales, and the two events had been so popular that the city decided to make a permanent site for flower exhibitions.