Friday, February 13, 2015

Paris - La Samaritaine, love locks, graffiti and more (part I)

When I started my blog, in March 2009, I wrote in the "Introduction" that it was mostly intended for my grandchildren (then aged 2 years+ and 9 months) and would contain my recollections of my past in Paris and my travels.  Now, in 2015, we have four grandchildren aged 8, 6, 3 and 1 1/2 years old.  I have not reminisced much about my childhood so far, so I'll try to include some more recollections in my future posts.  Today I'll start with some remembrances of Paris.

Growing up in Paris as a child, and even during my teenage years, my mother and I would often visit the department stores in the city.  When the weather was pleasant we liked to have a pastry and a refreshment in the cafe of the rooftop terraces which could be found in the Galeries Lafayette, the Printemps, the Bazar de l'Hotel de Ville and La Samaritaine department stores.  We liked the terrace of La Samaritaine because of the panoramic view of the river Seine, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and on the other side, the Sacre Coeur de Montmartre and more.  I cannot count the times we went there but I never took photographs.  (Click on collages and/or photos to enlarge.)

My mother, who in later years developed Parkinson's disease, entered an assisted living establishment in the fall of 2000.  After visiting her there from the US a couple of times I realized, in 2001, that she had no pictures on her walls.  I went back to the terrace of the Samaritaine department store and took photos with my film camera, set on "panorama."  The pictures were not very good, but I had them developed and placed them on her bedroom walls so she could still see Paris around her (she was born in Paris and lived there all her life.)  I found these pictures in a box a few days ago and scanned them - see some of them below.

From then on, whenever I went to Paris I took pictures.  Two famous bridges are close to the Samaritaine, le Pont Neuf (the New Bridge) and Le Pont des Arts (the Bridge of the Arts.)

The Pont Neuf, or new bridge, is the oldest bridge in Paris.  It was started in 1578 under King Henry III and finished under King Henry IV in 1604.  In 1607 it was named Pont Neuf, or New Bridge by King Henry IV as it was a new bridge in comparison to the other old Paris bridges that were lined on both sides with houses.  It connects the Right Bank to the Left Bank of the river, going through the Island of the City.  It was renovated in 1994 and completed in 2007 for its 400th anniversary.  Below are some postcards of the Pont Neuf.

I also took a photo of it last May 2011.

Le Pont Neuf has been an inspiration for many artists.  Below on top is the Pont Neuf in 1940 by Gustave Cariot, French, 1872-1959.  Below on the right is the Pont Neuf in 1872 painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French, 1841-1919 next to the Pont Neuf in the Snow by Camille Pissaro, French, 1830-1903.

Below is a print by French photographer Noel Paymal Lerebourg (1807-1873) from a daguerreotype taken in 1842 from the Pont Neuf near the statue of King Henry IV and looking toward the Pont des Arts.

From the top of the Samaritaine there was a good view of the Pont des Arts (Bridge of the Arts.)  I took this photo for my mother in 2001.  Even from this distance you can see how lovely this bridge is, so light and airy.

The Pont des Arts was built between 1802 and 1804 under the reign of Napoleon I (Napoleon Bonaparte) to link the Institut de France and the central square of the Louvre Palace which, at the time, was called the Palace of the Arts, hence the name of this bridge.  This was the first metal bridge built in Paris and it served pedestrians, only.  It was a very advanced design for the time and used light materials.  From the start Parisians loved this bridge even though, when it opened in 1804, you had to pay a toll to cross it - 64,000 people paid the toll to cross it in 1804.  Below are some vintage postcards of this bridge.

From the beginning the Pont des Arts attracted local, tourists, and famous photographers, such as Charles Augustin Lhermitte, French, 1881-1945, Andor Kertesz, Hungarian, 1894-1985, Brassai, Hungarian, 1899-1984, Marcel Bovis, French, 1904-1997, Robert Doisneau, French, 1912-1994 and Edouard Boubat, French 1923-1999 - see their photographs below.

There are so many paintings of the Pont des Arts that it was difficult to chose just a few.  Below are paintings from Edward Hopper, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bernard Buffet and Stanislas Lepine.

In 1976 the Paris city government made a study of the bridge and determined that it was no longer safe for pedestrians.  After two wars and collisions with ships, etc., the bridge had been weakened and was dismantled in 1980.  It was rebuilt to the same design and inaugurated by then Paris Mayor Jacques Chirac on June 27, 1984.

My mother and I did love to look at the Seine and the Paris bridges from the rooftop cafe of the Samaritaine.  We went there many, many times.  Ernest Cognacq and his wife Louise Jay opened a small shop in 1869 which they called La Samaritaine after a hydraulic water pump near the  Pont Neuf.  They enticed customers with their new selling methods - the display of fixed prices and the opportunity to try clothes.  The store expanded in 1883 and 1933.  They also sold items through mail order (with a low margin of profit.)  Below are a 1927 postcard of Les Grands Magasins de la Samaritaine and some advertisements.

In 1904 the buildings were renovated in the Art Nouveau style.

The interior of the stores had beautiful mosaics and decorative steel work.

The last time I shopped at La Samaritaine must have been in 2004 when I purchased some soap from Provence and a French CD.  The stores were closed in 2005 after it was found that buildings nos. 2 and 4 were not up to fire safety standards.  A French Luxury Group had purchased the buildings and obtained a permit to upgrade them to a new Japanese architectural plan.  But in December 2012 the Society for the Protection of Landscapes and Aesthetics of Paris filed a complaint over the plans arguing that the modern design would not fit within historical Paris and would distort the charm of the area.  The Japanese plans anticipated a 470 million Euros ($535 million) renovation with a massive undulating glass facade over the building.

The Luxury Group owners wanted to transform this historic landmark into a luxury hotel, high end restaurants, designer stores, duty-free shops and other luxury shops (intended mostly for Chinese tourists) and office space.  After numerous complaints by environmental and historical societies as well as from Paris citizens who said it would be an "eyesore" the Court of Appeal revoked the planning commission in January 2015 and halted further renovation.  Who knows what will happen now.  As for the Parisians (who compared the new facade to a shower curtain,) they feel that they gained a victory and hope that a new plan may be proposed that will retain more of the 18th and 19th century Haussmann style buildings.  As for me, I hope the Samaritaine will not end up looking like another super modern shopping center that can be found in Dubai or Los Angeles.  (Below postcard of one of the buildings of La Samaritaine in the 1950s.)

I wish that I had taken photos when we shopped in Paris.  I had a small box camera but I used it mainly during vacations.  It was not like now with digital cameras, cell phones, iPads and more, photos had to be developed and this was expensive for my student budget.  I looked at my old albums to see if I had a photo from my teenage years in the 1950s.  I found one taken during vacations at Courseulles sur Mer in Normandy in the summer of 1954 when I was 14.  It was taken on the beach.  I used to like walking behind the sand dunes and look at the German WWII bunkers.  This beach had been called "Juno Beach" during the Normandy landing of World War II.  In fact, this is where, on June 6, 1944, 14,000 Canadian soldiers landed.  Ten year later, spending a month by the beach on holiday was not so long after the war - 2005 was ten years ago and it seems close, no?  (The other pictures in the collage courtesy Wikipedia, click on collage to read better.)

This post is getting long, so I'll call it part one and finish in part two.  Tomorrow, Saturday 14 February is Valentine Day, so I'll stop with a couple of vintage postcard greeting this happy day.


Amanda said...

My mom took be to "La Samaritaine" a lot when I was growing up. I cannot remember the last time I went inside, but probably early 2,000. I still miss it!

I love your photo as a teenager. Time goes by so quickly, doesn't it?

Joyeuse Saint Valentin!

ELFI said...

merci pour ces vielles photos.. qui me font rêver... et cette jeune fille avec un rappelle une photo de moi sur la plage au même âge...:))

Nadezda said...

I love all old photos and paintings of Samaritaine, Vagabonde!
I think it was a very interesting work to find these details about Paris and recollect your old photos especially your photo on the beach. Thanks for sharing!

biebkriebels said...

I am glad they cancelled the Japanese plans to transform le Samaritain into a hotel. It seems that every big city in Europe is selling their historic old cities to the commerce. In Amsterdam they do the same, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 5 historic canal houses! They had to do inside demolition to connect them. How mad can you be. Nice to see all the old pictures of Paris.

Mae Travels said...

As always, I enjoyed your memories of Paris and how you experienced it. It's sad that the old department store building has to stand empty while there's so much demand for every type of space in Paris, but I think the end result has a hope of preserving the attractions of the past.

Happy Valentine's Day to you!

Rosaria Williams said...

Such beautiful memories! Have a wonderful valentine.

La Table De Nana said...

So nice of you to have brought photos for your mom♥

Frances said...

Vagabonde, you have given us a beautiful Valentine with this post's tributes to Paris, then and now.

Your words and the pictures compliment each other very well.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next post. I have heard about the love locks and their endangering the bridge.

Meanwhile, a very Happy Valentine's Day to you and your husband. xo

David said...

Vagabonde, One of the best things about Paris is that much has been done to preserve the tradition and beauty of the past. I really enjoy visiting large cities...especially historic ones, but I actually wouldn't want to live in any of them unless I had lots and lots of money so I could do it right. I prefer the semi-rural setting that we live in now. We have beauty, peace and tranquility.

You write very well indeed and its great that you have some fond and clear memories of your youth in Paris. Thanks for all of the nice photos and history! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

DJan said...

I love the pictures of the city so much. Isn't it called the City of Love? On Valentine's Day? :-)

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Paris is a spectacular historical place and influenced a lot of thinkers and doers!
We loved our visit last may and stayed in the Latin quarters right by Notre Dame.Lafayette was a dream of hubby's to visit.Buddy wanted to stand at ti Eiffel tower. We loved every precious minute there.
I'm finding your post charming a you go back in your timeline.

Carola Bartz said...

I remember going to La Samaritaine in the late seventies when I went to Paris at least once a year. I'm glad that this new modern design didn't make it - the resemblance of a shower curtain is correct! I also hope it won't end up like those modern stores you can see in any big city, that would be such a shame. As of modern designs - do you remember when the Centre Pompidou was first built? It still doesn't fit, but it is a rather individual and interesting style.
I have always loved the Pont Neuf - and Pont Alexandre III which is quite different from the "simple" style of Pont Neuf.
Loevely post - I look forward to part 2!

Anonymous said...

✽ ✽ ✽

C'est très beau et très émouvant !

MERCI chère Vagabonde ! J'adore ce que tu partages !

GROS BISOUS D'ASIE et bon dimanche !!!!! ܓܓ✿ܓ✿ܓ✿ܓ

DeniseinVA said...

Your pictures of Paris are wonderful. They must have given your mother a lot of pleasure to see them on the wall. You are such a thoughtful daughter. Having been in Paris last summer for a very short while, and after seeing this post of yours, it makes me want to visit again and spend more time. I will keep my fingers crossed and hopefully that will happen one day :)

Ginnie Hart said...

It always amazes me, Vagabonde, how you can come up with one building and make not only one post of it but more than one!

The delightful thing about this one in particular is that several years ago, in my past life, we ate lunch here with sister Ruth as our guide. It was everything you have described, especially of the views. And as it would happen, the Pont Neuf became Ruth's own special bridge in Paris. Ruth became Pont Neuf in our family because of the rhyme. :)

bayou said...

Such beautiful pictures of your Paris, dear Vagabonde. I haven't been for some years now - the last time I went, I stayed with colleagues on a houseboat instead of a hotel close to Sacré Coeur, very special that was. I love the picture of you on Juno beach :-). Looking forward to part 2 now.

Jeanie said...

I love your Paris history and memory posts and the photos in this take my breath away. My wish for La Samaritaine is that someone converts it back to its original Deco style. I have been by it many times but of course it was closed by then.

Your photos/postcards/illustrations are fantastic and I am truly reveling in this visit to Paris with you! Let the stories continue!

Miss_Yves said...

Quelles belles vues, et quel beau parcours historique!

Deb said...

I'm so glad that ugly renovation of La Samaritaine has been stopped. Well done people of Paris.

claude said...

Bonjour Vagabonde
Comme tu dois t'en douter, je viens de me régaler avec cette publication.
Nous sommes toutes les deux de grandes amoureuses de Paris.
Je dois connaître tous les grands magasins de la capitale, ainsi que le Marché Saint pierre où ma Mémé, couturière, achetait ses tissus, souvent pour nous confectionner des vêtements.
Je suis triste pour la Samaritaine, nous ne sommes même pas fichus de préserver notre patrimoine parisien. Quant à l'entourer de verre à la niponne alors là, NON !
Décidément nous avons quelques points communs toutes les deux, imagine toi que Courseulle sur Mer, j'y suis allée gamine, avec mes Grands-Parents, mon Pépé était Normand et c'est son pays.
Je suis contente de voir le Pont des Arts tel que je l'ai connu dans mon enfance et ma jeunesse ; je n'aime pas ce qu'il est devenu avec tous ses cadenas à la c.. !
Pour la St Valentin certains couples on remis des cadenas ; c'est démoralisant.
Merci pour ce beau billet bien illustré comme d'habitude.

marciamayo said...

Another delightful post, Vagabonde! Thank you for taking the time to put all of this together.

Jeanne said...

So enjoyed reading your post and also seeing one of your mmain purposes in your blog. Do you plan to publish this as a book eventually? I recently started a blog just for my new granddaughter, and when she is one, plan to make it in to a book for her. I always love your photos and your postcards. There could not have been a better place to grow up than in paris. It is the most amazing city. Have had the privelege of going there twice and would love to go back again. Maybe someday!!!!

Ruth said...

I see that my sister has anticipated me a bit. My brother does call me "Pont Reuf." :)

I love this area, the bridge, the Samaritaine, though I never went to the roof to look out. I should have. I was so disappointed in 2006, my last time back, and the store was closed.

I wrote a bit about the restaurant Toupary in the store, which became special. My husband and I went for our 25th anniversary, and yes, Ginnie and her partner went with me. I posted about it with photos at my Paris blog <a href=">here</a>.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Vagabonde!

How beautiful is this post! The paintings and photographs show the passage of time. On several visits to Paris Samaritaine was closed so have never seen inside it. It must have been amazing in the day! I wonder how it will end up. That's a massive renovation bill!

Thanks for the pictures of my two favourite bridges in Paris too! How beautiful they are. Time seems to stand still when you stand in the middle of a Parisian bridge and dream.

Thanks for your help/suggestions for my new book. A 'pantser' is a writer who starts writing without much more than an idea and plots as the story develops 'by the seat of his/her pants'. The opposite to an outliner/plotter who might spend ages planning the book before writing it. There's good and bad to both. Somewhere in between is probably a good place to be.

Yes, I have a new working title: La Petite Paris Kitchen. We'll see how it develops. As I said, the love locks will now take a very minor role.

Thanks again!

Denise :-)

Jenny Woolf said...

I look at some of my old pictures of London and I'm glad I took them. There is something so... I don't know, just cosy I guess, about the top picture of Paris all those years ago.
I think the idea of scrubbing your heart clean is really quaint! :)

dritanje said...

A great treat to see these pictures of Paris. I wonder how I could have missed going to La Samaritaine? Ah but then, I don't go shopping in Paris or rather, I do, but it's only to the bookshops.But had I known about the terrasse I would have gone, only now it's too late it seems.
I also have a funny story about Le Pont Neuf. Maybe I will do a post about it. Thankyou for these marvellous images vagabonde

Al said...

Lots of interesting information and photos in this post!

Linda said...

I absolutely love these old photos, what a fantastic post! Thank you so much for sharing!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

What an interesting life you've had! Exotic places (to me) and they were just everyday for you! This is what's great about blogging... I love learning what it would have been like to live in Paris!

I can relate to wanting to make your moms room a happy place .. I tried to do that too back then. Your panorama shots of her beautiful city were great and I'm sure they made her happy.

Arti said...

Another beautiful and informative post. Lots to learn. Love that photo of that young teenager at 14. Juno Beach, we Canadians hear it often enough, and proud to have involved. Actually, my father was on board a British (not a Canadian yet) navy ship during the Normandy invasion, but his mission was guarding the English Channel at the time. A piece of WWII history right in my family.

Anonymous said...

j'aimes ces avants clichés

Vicki Lane said...

A wonderful post. I have only visited Paris once -- over forty years ago -- and I remember only being overwhelmed by its size and beauty. And what a nice thing you did for your mother and what a nice thing you are doping for your grandchildren!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

How wonderful to have had the opportunity to grow up in an exciting and vibrant city such as Paris. Your photos must have been a comfort to your mother, an irreplaceable gift given from the heart. And your grandchildren will reap the rewards of your writing all of their lives.

Glenda Beall said...

Your photos give me such a great image of Paris. I love what you did for your mother. I especially enjoyed the valentine post cards. Those were romantic, not like most of what we see today.

Kay said...

I loved seeing your photos! You were/are certainly a beautiful young teenager.

I remember going to Samaritaine and Printemps. I still have the t-shirt I got at Printemps.

Cergie said...

Un formidable message d'amour dédié ta maman, tes petits'enfants et Paris. Mon fils nous reproche de ne pas trop raconter, c'est au moment des enterrements lorsque l'on sort des photos de famille que l'on découvre un tas de choses, mais il est vrai que la mémoire s'éteint comme on dit en Afrique : lorsque un vieillard disparaît c'est une bibliothèque qui brûle... Juste avant qu'elle ne décède j'ai encore appris beaucoup de ma tante et pourtant elle avait 96 ans et oublié pas mal.
Cependant... Sur un blog public peut on tout raconter ce qui est de l'intime ?

Cergie said...

Si tu vivais à Paris de nos jours tu te régalerais avec les expositions gratuites à l'Hôtel de Ville, la dernière que j'ai vue était consacrée à l'agence Magnum. J'ai découvert les photos de Brassai, Izis, le Paris des impressionnistes etc, etc. Et tu ne pourrais profiter de la vue de la Samaritaine qui est en travaux pour je ne sais encore combien de temps. Tu pourrais aller sur la terrasse de l'Institut du Monde Arabe qui donne sur l'arrière de la Cathédrale. Et bien sûr profiter de la vue en extra comme tu l'as sans doute fait en allant çà une exposition du Centre Beaubourg

Cergie said...

Tu as eu une merveilleuse idée de prendre des photos pour ta maman des lieux qu'elle a aimé fréquenter avec toi. C'étaient de beaux souvenirs à chérir, une ligne entre vous deux.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Vagabonde .. your grandchildren will be delighted with your blog and your remembrances. I'm glad the refurbishment of the building has been put on hold ... definitely didn't seem right. Love the photo of you ... and the history of the before, after and today, 70 years later ...

Great post - cheers Hilary

Magic Love Crow said...

Such a beautiful, amazing post! Hugs ;o)

Pat said...

What a lovely thing to do for your mother. I hope she enjoyed the photographs. Sadly many, many years ago when I had a relationship in Paris I hadn't started taking photos so it was lovely to see yours.
I remember visiting the roof of Samaritaine and once having arranged to meet my friend on Le Pont Neuf going down the wrong steps and getting lost. Panic!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

You were so sweet to have taken the photos for your mother's room. I know they must have given her so much pleasure. This is a wonderful post for your family.

Thérèse said...

Des souvenirs a cherir, a transmettre comme vous savez si bien le faire. Une bien douce idee que ces photos a partager avec votre maman et avec vos petits-enfants maintenant pour que la connection perdure.
Merveilleuses images d'un Paris eternel ou chaque promenade souleve des emotions, saurons=nous continuer a les susciter avec de nouvelles constructions ou reamenagements?
L'episode "Samaritaine" montre quand meme la victoire du nombre de voix qui s'elevent quand le changement est trop brutal. Une note d'espoir.
Ah Courseulles sur Mer ou j'essaye de retourner a chacun de mes retours en Normandie, surtout le long du port avec tous ces pecheurs vendant le fruit de leur peche!

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