Place de la Concorde, one of the most popular squares—and the largest in terms of sheer size—in the City of Light, may be beautiful and picturesque today, but at one time it witnessed dozens of bloody executions during the French Revolution. In fact, it’s the exact site where King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were made a foot shorter on top via the guillotine. Visitors today, enamored of the square’s gilded fountains, soaring Egyptian obelisk and unfettered views of some of Paris’s most iconic sites, are probably unaware of the area’s decidedly grotesque past. Even the square’s name today—essentially The Place of Harmony—belies its dark history. Continue Reading →
One of the things I love about Paris are the scores of fountains scattered throughout the city. Many are quite famous as tourist sights: the Fontaine Saint-Michel on the Left Bank, the Fontaine des Innocents near Les Halles, the Medici Fountain in the Jardin du Luxembourg, and the fountains at Place de la Concorde, Place des Vosges and the Louvre pryamid, to name just a few.
But one of my favorites–and one I came across completely by happenstance–is the Fontaine Louvais … Continue Reading →
Many tourists in Paris make a trip to gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th Arrondissement to admire its exquisite landscaping, children playing with toy boats on its circular basin, more than 100 statues and other monuments scattered throughout the park’s nearly 57 acres and the ornate Luxembourg Palace, which today serves as home to the French Senate. One of the true gems of the Luxembourg Gardens, however, is not as frequently visited—the Medici Fountain. And that’s a shame, because the fountain is not only beautiful, but is deeply rooted in Paris’s rich history. Continue Reading →
Just a stone’s throw from the Sainte Chapelle church is one of Paris’s most glorious “monumental” fountains that is surprisingly not as popular among tourists as other sights in the area—the Fontaine Saint-Michel. Although many guidebooks include the fountain in their sight-seeing recommendations, it usually doesn’t fall on traveler’s “must-see” lists for the City of Light, particularly for first-time visitors. And that’s a shame, because a less-than-five-minute stroll from either Sainte-Chapelle or equality popular Notre Dame puts you directly on the charming Place de Saint-Michel, which is dominated by the gorgeous (and extremely photogenic) fountain at its southern end. Continue Reading →
In addition to visiting Paris’s futuristic Pompidou Center, many tourists also enjoy the next-door Fontaine Stravinsky (Stravinsky Fountain), a quirky, kinetic public fountain designed to honor composer Igor Stravinsky, a Russian composer—later a naturalized French citizen—considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century. The Paris fountain that honors the composer was created in 1983 by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, known for his kinetic-art pieces, and his wife, French sculptor, painter and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle. The 580-square-meter basin is ornamented with 16 pieces of sculpture and water-movement installations that represent 16 of Stravinsky’s works, including those from his best-known ballet “The Rite of Spring.” Continue Reading →