NORTH TO MONTMARTRE
Lycee Condorcet, rue Caumartin
Jostled by Prisunic, nudged by Au Printemps, this is the best neo-Classical building in Paris. It was built as a Capuchin convent and is one of those pre-Revolutionary buildings which re-stated the parts of classical architecture with a terrible simplicity. Here, serving the old regime and the old religion, is the new spirit. For in the long low front with proportions like a Georgian stable-block, pediments and doors are fixed on to the plain wall surface with overpowering force and an exactness of placing which even Ledoux could not achieve. (The left-hand wing of the front is the church of Saint-Louis-d’Antin; but Brongniart’s intentions have been completely altered in redecoration.)
Trips To Paris France Photo Gallery
Gare Saint-Lazare: Metro bloging hall
A whirling Art Nouveau arabesque without a single decorative trick to it; everything is done by shape and style. The hall is squashed under the station forecourt – circular walls, eight central columns, a circular bloging office. The ribs of the vault, outlined in green tile, loop over tense and elliptical, putting the whole space into continuous stretched movement, echoed even in the way the electric wiring is collected and festooned along the walls. It is a much deeper achievement than Guimard’s Metro railings; yet it could so easily have been as impersonal as the Underground at Piccadilly Circus.
What To Do In Paris France Square des Batignolles
A local centre tucked away north of Saint-Lazare, served only by a single open-backed bus. All the ordinary marvellous Parisian things, laid out around one of Alphand’s little parks – this one, on a slight slope, does wonders with a single stream A complete change from the boulevards near Saint-Lazare, which with the big stores are amongst the most harassing in Paris; here, Au Printemps might be a hundred miles away and there is all the time in the world for a game of boules and a cheap and leisurely lunch.
Paris Information Church of la Trinite
A thoroughly jolly performance, owing something to almost every style and almost no discipline. Just where it is needed, too, at the northern edge of the Grands Boulevards when the asphalt begins to wear down the feet. There is one basic tower perched up on a westwork, but the facade is prepared to break out into cupolas and groups of statuary on the least provocation. The inside is overloaded, airy, mildly emotional, gently devotional, on the point of nipping across the road for a beer – a real chansonnier.
(An absorbing contrast with Saint-Augustin, a mile to the west on the other side of the Gare Saint-Lazare. This, begun by Baltard of les Halles in 1860, is far more interesting and inventive, with its iron construction and wedge-shaped plan. Yet without personality, all the ingenuity is useless.)
Place de la Trinite
The square in front of the church is one of the best in Paris, a compendium of all the things that make the city unforgettable. There is no special reason for tourists to come here, and so the onlookers are not out of balance. Six-storey Haussmann hotels all around, providing at the same time the shape of the square and the local population which keeps the place lived in, not trampled-on. A good deal of traffic but not too much, big cafes, a public garden immediately underneath the church, and everyone using their city – the park benches house lovers, tramps, knitting mothers, and grandmothers who are beyond purling even the simplest jumper. It is as near pure urban freedom as anywhere in the world.
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