VOL. 10 NO. 3
|The Independent Traveler's Newsletter|
|Off the Beaten
Path ~ life
in the 12th arrondissement
A Post Card from Paris by Rosemary Bell
Beaten Path ~
Ici et Là
from Occupied France
For that reason, we decided it would be fitting to revisit the Auvergne, a region where the group will tour and where there is a museum in the Général's former home.
We also take you to Château de Vollore, now owned and operated as a bed & breakfast by direct ancestors of La Fayette.
We hope you
enjoy this regional feature.
can be overwhelming with all its twists and turns, arrondissements,
and grand boulevards. When I see locals on the métro looking
at a city map I feel much better. Everyone has heard of the Eiffel
Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre. I am awestruck that you can find
these beloved treasures in one city, and I haven't even begun to scratch
the surface. But, let us take a look at an area of Paris that isn't
on the “top ten attractions in Paris” list.
I am fortunate to be on sabbatical from my teaching responsibilities and spending seven weeks in Paris. My colleague and I needed to rent an apartment that wasn't too expensive yet close to her teaching assignment. Tucked in the southeastern corner of Paris, lies the 12th arrondissement of which there are twenty in Paris. Each arrondissement is divided into four quartiers. The 12th is considered one of the largest and one of the most affordable. It has been my home for these past weeks.
The easternmost part of the arrondissement is called Bercy; the western part, which backs up against the 4th and 13th arrondissements, is called Reuilly. Historically, Bercy was a major wine-producing area. Since the late ‘60s, Bercy has been a pet project of the city and is enjoying a major face lift. New, affordable housing, shops, bars and restaurants are built on the site of warehouses where wine being shipped up the Seine by barge was once housed. Bercy is presently home to Le Parc de Bercy and the Bercy Exposition where major music and sporting events take place.
Although on the map it may look far away from the pulse of Paris, the 12th is a thriving neighborhood that is centrally located to all major Paris attractions. A ride of the efficient métro and you'll be walking the Champs de Elysées in less than twenty minutes.
I am an historian, so it is only natural for me to wonder about my surroundings. Why is that street named Voltaire? What does that statue in the middle of the Place de Nation represent? Who is Diderot? I wonder who or what Picpus means? What does this have to do with the 12th arrondissement? Plenty.
Shops in former wine warehouses of Bercy
12th is rich in history. Who would have thought that the Enlightenment
would be represented in the 12th? Who have thought that this relatively
quiet, unobtrusive neighborhood would be a catalyst for revolution?
Who would have thought that what became the 12th arrondissement was a place
were heads rolled. Yes. The guillotine did its work in this
area in the 1790s since it was outside the city center. Those living
in the city center were fed up with the smell of death and blood wafting
up from the streets, and the area around the Bastille was tired of the
all the gore and the crowds. Remember, this was a time when executions
by guillotine were popular entertainment. There were programs listing
the names of those who were going to die on any given day, tickets were
sometimes sold for the best seats, and these events were considered a family
> to read our review of the handy little book, Paris Métro ~ An Underground History.
> to meet enjoy this issue's Franco - American Portrait ~ not about an American expat living in France, but a French expat, Patrick Dumont, living in the US!
> for a behind the scenes look at Château Mouton Rothschild and to share in a recent Bordeaux Grand Cru Tour, join château owner, Ronald Rens, in this issue's French Wine Report.
Message to our Readers
We regret that
Part Three of Panos Kakaviatos' series, France Wine Travel, was
not available for this issue of our newsletter. We hope to bring
it to you very soon.
ENIGMAS . . . A Quiz on Your Knowledge of Historic
by Arthur Gillette
Question from the last issue: What is the origin of the La Samaritaine (Good Samaritan) department store?
Answer: On nearby 17th century Pont Neuf there was a huge pump which provided water to irrigate the Tuileries gardens. It included a sumptuous bridge-top manor house (with its own bells) as well as a very well-paid hereditary Governorship. So, it was call 'Good Samaritan' for more than one reason. When Ernest Cognac-Jay opened his store in 1907, he thought the name of the long-gone pump would draw crowds. It did ~ by 1926 the store had a staff of no less than 6,000 and had to expand.
Our new question: What is the origin of the word gibet (gallows), as in the infamous Gibet de Montfaucon near today's Place de Stalingrad, where in the Middle Ages as many as 14 people were hanged at the same time?
Gillette, and take advantage of his truly amazing knowledge of Paris
[See the answer to this edition's question revealed in our December 2006 issue]
SPONSORING THIS ISSUE:
Friends of Lafayette and Merci Lafayette French American Alliance
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