You might have scrimped together enough centimes to take yourself off to Paris, which is an impressive enough feat in itself. However, unless you’re Marty McFly or some other time-travelling wise guy, you’ve probably only seen the city in its present state. Not many of us can say we’ve played witness to the City of Light during the Dark Ages (see what I did there) or the Roman occupation, or through the French Revolution.
Here’s a chance to compare some of your favourite attractions as they look today alongside how they looked roughly one hundred years ago. Sometimes the changes over the past century are only slight; sometimes they are monumental. Our tireless investigator Sandrine has done her best to find perspectives that match as closely as possible in order to provide the best comparison. Hold on to your corset as you step back into the past with us.
Place du Carrousel and Musée du Louvre (1910/2007)
Before the Louvre pyramid was built in 1988, the courtyard held a huge statue in honour of Gambetta. In 1941, all bronze elements were removed for use in the war effort.
Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel (1899/2007)
The Triumphal Arch was built between 1806 and 1808. This was to commemorate Napoleon’s military victories of the previous years.
Jardin des Tuileries (1895/2008)
In the early 16th Century this area was a clay quarry for tiles (hence its name). In 1559, after the death of Catherine de Médici’s husband Henri II, she built a palace at the Tuileries place and named it Tuileries Palace. The palace featured a large garden referring to the Italian style in order to remind Catherine of Tuscany, her native place.
Place de La Victoire (1910/2008)
A lovely old square with an equestrian statue representing King Louis XIV (also called the Sun King).
Place de la République (1910/2008)
This square was named after the French Third Republic. Here is where most demonstrations in Paris start or finish, including those on 1st May for la Fête du Travail.
Cathédrale Notre Dame (also called “Our Lady of Paris”) (1900/2007)
Did you know that the three doors at the front have a name? The middle is called “The Door of Judgment”, the right is “Sainte Anne’s Door” and the left is “The Door of the Virgin”. Notre Dame Cathedral is the most visited building in France!
Place de la Bastille with la Colonne de Juillet (1906/2004)
This square is where the Bastille prison stood until it was destroyed in the Storming of the Bastille on the 14th July 1789 during the French Revolution. The Bastille was known to be a place of horror and oppression; it was a symbol of authority of the King. The July Column was built in 1830 to commemorate the memory of all victims of two other Revolutions (in 1830 and in 1848) in honor of the fall of Charles X and the commencement of the “July Monarchy” of Louis-Philippe.
The Pantheon was originally built as a church dedicated to, and containing the relic of, St. Genevieve. However, after many changes the Pantheon became a secular mausoleum. The Pantheon offers views over all of Paris.
Jardin and Palais du Luxembourg (1900/2008)
Luxembourg Palace stands north of Jardin du Luxembourg. It was originally built for Marie de Medici (who was the mother of Louis XIII, king of France). However, when the building was finished, Marie had been banished. Nowadays this building is used as the French Senate.
Odeon Theater (1910/2008)
This building was constructed in 1782. The statue in front of the theater represented Emile Augier, a dramaturge French poet who was very famous in 1878. He wrote a lot of plays that appeared at Odeon. The statue was destroyed during the second world war.
Musée d’Orsay (1920/2008)
Musée d’Orsay was originally a train station from 1900 to 1945, before it was finally turned into a museum and art gallery, which hosts statues and paintings, in 1986.
Tour Eiffel (1937/2007)
The Eiffel Tower was built between 1887 and 1889. These photos have been taken from the Palais de Chaillot. You can see that two structures are missing on the recent photo; both were constructed in 1937 for the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (International Exposition dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life) and were removed in 2003. The Nazi German pavilion on the left was built by an architect under Hitler, and was capped by a huge eagle. The USSR pavilion on the right held a 25m statue of the ‘Worker and Kolkhoz Woman’. The International Exhibition was supposed to promote peace between these three countries in a difficult economic situation, whereas the world would witness quite a different relationship in the murderous years that followed. And as a free gift you have two Parisian pigeons!
Hôtel des Invalides (1830/2008)
Hôtel des Invalides was once protected by a row of canons; now they are just decorative pieces. However, their position is not meaningless. The canons point to the north – toward the Seine, the old King’s courtyard and the Champs Élysées – reminding visitors of the sovereignty of the French population. The original purpose of Hôtel des Invalides was a hospital and retirement home for war veterans; nowadays it is a complex of museums about France’s military history. You can also discover burial sites for some of France’s war heroes, such as Napoleon Bonaparte.
Avenue des Champs Élysées (1890/2007)
This street runs Place de la Concorde to Arc de Triomphe. You can see two equestrian statues on either side of each picture. They have marked the beginning of Avenue des Champs Élysées since 1794 (from 1745 to 1794 they stood in Marly Park according to the wishes of King Louis XV). The current statues are just copies; since 1984 the originals have been placed in the Louvre museum.
Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile (1910/2007)
This was built to commemorate all victims of war. The arch stands over the tomb of an unknown soldier, which is set in the floor, with a flame that never dies burning over it. France’s significant military victories are depicted in frescoes carved in the stonework of the Arch.
Arc de Triomphe is associated with numerous quirks of history, such as the man who cooked eggs over the eternal flame, or the time French aviator Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane through the arch to protest against the lack of aviation in the 14th July Parade in 1919. The plane’s wingspan reached 9 metres, whilst the arch’s pillars stand 14 metres apart. This particular feat is likely to remain uncontested, thanks to Paris’ ban on low-flying aircraft.
Galeries Lafayette (1871/2011)
Along with shops such as Berlin’s KaDeWe and London’s Harrods, Galeries LaFayette is one of the most famous shops in the world. Its beginnings can be traced back to 1893, when Alphonse Khan and Théophile Bader founded a haberdasher’s shop. The shop has seen its fair share of famous visitors throughout its history, including Edith Piaf, who sang there in 1950. Inside, Galeries LaFayette boasts an impressive Art Nouveau design, with a glass and steel dome in the roof and steel staircases ascending ten floors.
Porte Saint Denis (1910/2007)
This building, inspired by the Arc of Titus in Rome, was commissioned in 1673 by king Louis XIV to celebrate his military victories.
Place de la Nation and Triomphe de la République (1910/2008)
This square was built in 1899 by Aimé Jules Dalou; the statue of Marianne represents an allegory of the French Republic. A figure of Liberty, with a torch in his hand, guides the chariot of universal suffrage drawn by two lions. The statue remains on the new photo, but the crocodiles in the water pond have disappeared. They symbolised the opponents of the Republic. Is it still safe?
Parc Montsouris (1910/2011)
This lovely park was built in 1868 by Jean Charles Alphand under the orders of the Baron Haussmann. Haussman had the task of destroying Paris in order to rebuild it according to the wishes of Napoleon III. Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte wanted to offer green spaces to Parisians because at this time Paris was devoid of nature.
Moulin Rouge (1900/2009)
Everyone knows of this famous cabaret in Paris, which was built in 1889 by Joseph Oller. The Moulin Rouge is the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of can-can dancing, which was introduced by courtesans as a seductive dance. The Moulin Rouge was more recently brought into the limelight thanks to Baz Luhrman’s musical film.
L’Eglise du Sacré Coeur at Montmartre (1905/2011)
This Church is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city, and is a very popular religious building. Basilique du Sacre-Coeur is a Roman Catholic Church and minor basilica that was dedicated to the heart of Jesus. Construction began in 1875 and finished in 1914. Many people from all over the world come to visit it. This is the second most visited monument in France after the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral.
It’s fascinating to see the changes that our environments have gone through, even in recent history. We hope you’ve enjoyed looking through our little window into time. Which city would you like to see next? Feel welcome to leave a comment below. A thousand thanks to Sandrine, whose insight into Paris has once again proved invaluable. We’ll be back soon. Until then, bon voyage.
Thanks also to: (1) http://www.flickr.com/photos/trialsanderrors/ (2) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Alvesgaspar (3) http://www.flickr.com/photos/josefnovak33/ (4) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pline (5) http://www.flickr.com/photos/76204898@N00 (6) http://www.flickr.com/photos/chris-yunker/ (7) http://etb.ht/A4jMO4 (8) http://www.flickr.com/photos/14422680@N06/ (9) http://www.flickr.com/photos/franzois/ (10)http://www.flickr.com/photos/patrickpeccatte/ (11)http://www.flickr.com/photos/franzois/ (12)http://www.flickr.com/photos/hatwar/ (13)http://etb.ht/yF9dOo (14)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Kaihsu (15)http://www.flickr.com/photos/9858729@N08/ (16)http://www.flickr.com/photos/23416307@N04/ (17)http://www.flickr.com/photos/frankyr/ (18)http://etb.ht/wqiKol (19)http://etb.ht/wREgmk (20)http://www.flickr.com/photos/michelamazzoli/ (21)http://etb.ht/yLzCfT (22)http://www.flickr.com/photos/b00nj/ (23)http://www.flickr.com/photos/daninmarseille/ (24)http://www.flickr.com/photos/7726011@N07/ (25)http://www.flickr.com/photos/altuwa/ (26)http://www.flickr.com/photos/thadspics/ (27)http://etb.ht/A7uDrr (28)http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosebennet/ (29)http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1465629 (30)http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Coyau (31)http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeanlouis_zimmermann/ (32)http://etb.ht/xQtIHz (33)http://www.flickr.com/photos/landscape_photography/ (34)http://etb.ht/yFpXCn (35)http://www.flickr.com/photos/vigo74/ (36)http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Tonchino