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. But what is it?
The last bastion standing
Today only one significant element of the city’s 19th century fortifications remains standing. Where is the Bastion n°1 and what purpose does it serve today?
The World's Oldest Surviving Basketball Court
How did a game invented by the YMCA in America cross the Atlantic in the late 19th century, and why has this Paris court survived so long?
Friday, 18 September 2015
Le Musée des Moulages at the Hôpital St Louis
This museum of dermatological casts is a fascinating glimpse into the hospital's past, but certainly not an experience for everyone. In the 19th century the hospital developed a world-renowned speciality in infectious skin diseases, then employed an expert modeller to capture these afflictions for training and identification purposes. The results are gruesome and haunting, but also endowed with an artistic grace.
The Siège du Parti Communiste
Oscar Niemeyer's creation for the French Communist party is at once futuristic and elegantly retro. From the underground auditorium to the rooftop terrace, it is a wonderful and playful building to discover.
The Cité Napoleon
The city's first experiment with social housing during the Second Empire (the Napoleon here is Louis not Bonaparte) was something of a failure, but it remains a unique location in Paris. Visit for the light, the greenery and the interesting staircases.
The Tunnel Napoleon
Another Second Empire creation (Louis again...), this 'tunnel' is in fact a warren of storage units dedicated to the wine trade. The whole sector is menaced with demolition, so don't miss the opportunity to visit. As a bonus, there will also be food and drink offered by the wine traders and cheese merchants who are currently housed in the tunnel.
The world's oldest surviving basketball court
Basketball was invented by a Canadian in America, but the sport was quickly exported thanks to the international YMCA network. One of the earliest adopters was the Paris branch who built a strange court with two metallic posts in the centre and a cycling ring above. Even more strange was the fact that this outdated facility survived for so long, but, though still impractical it is now the pride of the still-active YMCA centre.
Auguste Comte and the Positivists
Auguste Comte was a rather austere philosopher who spent his life building a new secular religion. Over the weekend you can visit his home - an intriguing and untouched 19th century bourgeois apartment - and the chapel that was built for worshippers of his cult, which primarily included Brazilians.
The Palais d'Iéna
Architect August Perret left several interesting buildings around Paris, but perhaps his chef d'oeuvre was the Palais d'Iéna. Originally built as possibly the world's dullest museum, it is still massively underused today, but its emptiness gives it extra gravitas.
Thursday, 27 August 2015
I'm not particularly fond of Hemingway the writer, and even less enamoured of the man himself, but I was pleasantly surprised by a recent book I received, "Hemingway's Paris: A Writer's City in Words and Images", by photographer Robert Wheeler.
Friday, 24 July 2015
I decided to take a closer look at this immense haven of fields, lakes, forests and prairies - although even finding an access point already proved to be quite a challenge!
Sunday, 28 June 2015
Thursday, 21 May 2015
I enjoy receiving unusual missions, and the one sent by reader Dave was atypical to say the least. “Somewhere in the 16e arrondissement is a building with a vomiting man sculpted into the façade,” he wrote. “Please can you tell me where it is and the story behind it?”