Parisian Angels and Demons
It wasn’t until I saw Rosemary Flannery’s new book, “Angels of Paris: An Architectural Tour through the History of Paris” (Parler Paris Recommended Reading) that I realized fully how surrounded we are by angels, in spite of the demons that haunt our Parisian past. With Halloween and All Saints Day on the horizon, angel/demons might come to mind, too, such as our celebrated Marie-Antoinette whose headless body is the rage at every formidable costume party. (Marie-Antoinette )
Angels, a great bit less demonic than Marie, adorn Paris in hundreds of unsuspecting spots around town — even on my very own corner that I’d passed thousands of times, but never noticed until Flannery’s 228-page “lushly photographed” book pointed out. In an email to me earlier this year, Flannery explained that the book, to be released this November 6th, tells “the story of angels in architecture seen all throughout Paris, from the middle ages to the 20th-century.”
Then I started to look up and there they were…everywhere.
During the intermission of “West Side Story” at the Théâtre du Châtelet Sunday afternoon, we wandered out to the balcony for a breath of fresh air and discovered yet another angel atop the column at the Fontaine du Palmier at the Place du Châtelet. Commissioned by Napoleaon in 1806, it is surmounted by a gilded bronze “Victory” angel waving laurels of victory. The statue by sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot is actually a copy as the original is in the courtyard of the Musée Carnavalet.
Flannery spotted another one in the immediate vicinity, but one we failed to see — an angel holding a lightning rod atop the Théâtre du Châtelet’s roof itself! Others for which to be on the outlook — angels “adorning a seventeenth-century gilded sundial inside a courtyard at the Sorbonne, angels hovering above a railroad headquarters where a beautiful stone frieze features young angels flying in to work on the tracks…” and hundreds more.
“The angels are a part of the fanciful and romantic spirit of Paris,” Amazon’s book description explains, but I believe they are much more than just ‘fanciful.’ They protect us from the demons, “n’est-ce pas?”
If you’re in the Angels and Demons mood this week, don your headless Marie-Antoinette costume and head for a moonrise picnic at the Pont des Arts (gathered around a bench towards the Left Bank side of the bridge) on October 31st beginning at 6 p.m. (moonrise at 6:30 p.m.). Captain Bob, host of the picnic, reports that “The official full moon is two days (and one hour) earlier, but we’ll get an even better view of craters and shadows on the moon, perfect for Halloween.” He calls it the “All Hallows Eve Moon.”
If you go, you are expected to bring food and drink to share. “Hot drinks will make you especially popular: hot cider, hot chocolate, spiced wine, tea, coffee, etc.,” says the Captain. “Keep your eyes out for a small white telescope on tripod if the sky is clear. Check in by cell phone if you can’t find us (06.14.17.37.97) and wear costumes. I’ll bring the jack-o-lanterns.”
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. The producers of House Hunters International are looking for apartments in Nice that can be filmed the weekend of November 23-26 that fit the following description: 40 to 60 square meters, one bedroom, with balcony or terrace. If this sounds like yours, and you will allow a film crew of four plus the three “subjects” to spend about three hours in your apartment filming, please contact us immediately at [email protected]. Thank you!
P.P.S. “Geriatric Yoga” chez moi with Nancy Szczepanski on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. continues and we’re seeking more participants (men or women) who want to stretch their muscles and feel younger and healthier. Cost is 15€ per session of one hour. It’s easy, fun and rewarding. Bring a yoga mat and wear comfortable clothing. To reserve, email us at [email protected]