Landing the modern in the heart of history.
Bonjour Parismarais Readers,
We just celebrated the New Year in le Marais in the fabulous Musée des Arts et Métiers, definitely the number one museum in the district. The structure is comprised of the former church of Saint Martin des Champs and a gigantic complex of buildings that includes one of the best universities in Paris. This institution is open all year to anyone who wants to take evening classes and improve their education in all technical and sociological fields. The presentation is great and all information is provided in French and English, unlike most Parisian museums. For more details, visit http://www.parismarais.com/paris-le-marais-city-tour.htm.
Our mayor, Pierre Aidenbaum and his team including Sophie Queran, in charge of communications (and who also pitched in to serve a few cakes) welcomed thousands of residents of the third arrondissement for a celebration and to tell us their plans for improving the daily life in le Marais over the next year. A fantastic buffet and unlimited champagne and drinks were served to thousands of visitors free of charge. Everybody was welcome to attend this spectacular event – from the local knights of industry to the homeless – as it was a great way to keep in contact with the local residents.
I must say that I’m happy to pay my minimal local taxes (less than 300 euros per year) to finance and enjoy such a great occasion, not to mention the many other incredible events we are treated to in the third arrondissement. In fact, just this January a new program began called ”POUR RIRE,” a series of free films playing all year in the gigantic ball room of the city hall. It’s all about comedy, even if some subjects are not laughing matters – the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore will be shown on February 8 at 4:15 pm – as well as French and international classics such as Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Laughing is wonderful therapy and a great way to enjoy life, especially when we live in the best district of the most popular city in the world! Merci Monsieur le Maire et merci Paris!
THE THIRD ARRONDISSEMENT
Forget about Reine-le-Château and other such fantaisies - there was nothing mysterious about the Order of the Knights Templar, nor about its treasure. Following is the true story of the mighty knights, and it was here, on the very soil of the Marais, that much of it was played out.
The following excerpt is adapted from Thirza Vallois' Around and About Paris series (Volume 1 - From the Dawn of Time to The Eiffel Tower).
Around and About Paris, (Volume 1, 2 and 3) is published by Iliad Books, UK Romantic Paris is published by Interlink, US and Arris Books, UK
For more information and to order Thirza Vallois's Around and About Paris and Romantic Paris, go to www.thirzavallois.com
“A few street names are all that is left of the Enclos du Temple, the mighty fortress of the Knights Templar, the founding fathers of the 3rd arrondissement. Initially, they were a fighting order in the Holy Land (1118 AD), set up for the protection of Christian pilgrims from the Muslims. After the collapse of the Christian Kingdom, they retreated to Cyprus and from there spread all over Europe. The great wealth they had acquired through gifts bestowed upon them by appreciative Christians enabled them to purchase vast estates and accelerate the process. One such estate was situated on the eastern edge of Paris, close to today's Hôtel de Ville, where a group of them settled in 1139.
To the north east lay stretches of marshland, remnants of the ancient branch of the Seine that had once flowed down from the heights of Belleville, east of Paris. It took the hardy Templars barely a century to turn it into the market garden (marais) of the capital, emulating the monks of Saint Martin des Champs who had dried up the swamps on the western fringe of the future arrondissement a century earlier. Having redeemed the land, they moved to its north-eastern edge, where they built a fortified compound, l'Enclos du Temple, which also served as their European headquarters. Forget about Reine-le-Château and other such fantaisies - there was nothing mysterious about the Order. Rather, it was their sophisticated farming methods that enabled them to redeem the marshy land of the future Marais, and it was their acute business acumen that incited them to use their geographical dispersion to advantage and develop a kind of international deposit bank which contributed to the continual increase of their wealth. This, and their independence, were jealously kept behind the crenellated walls of the Enclos du Temple, roughly on the site of today's rue du Temple, rue de Bretagne, rue de Picardie and rue Béranger, south of Place de la République. It was complete with watch towers and a drawbridge that led to the Temple's only gate (now corner of rue des Fontaines-du-Temple and rue du Temple).
The kings of France were happy with the situation until the end of the 13th century. Philip Augustus even entrusted some of his treasures to them in 1190, before leaving on the Third Crusade, and Saint Louis did not take offence when, in 1254, Henry III of England stayed at the Temple rather than in his own palace on the Ile de la Cité (the site of the Palais de Justice). But Philip the Fair, an ambitious king who had even stood up to the church of Rome, could not tolerate this wealthy state within his state, the less so as he himself was in chronic financial straits. During a mass rising in 1306, he accepted the Templars' kind offer to shelter him and took the measure of their stupendous wealth. Eaten up with envy, he set out to contrive their downfall by spreading treacherous rumours and slanders against them. After hideous trials, false accusations, humiliations, torture and the burning of 54 Templars on Ile aux Juifs (now the southern edge of Place Dauphine), the French branch of the Order was disbanded in 1313. On 12 March 1314, Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Temple, was brought to the stake on l'Ile aux Juifs, where, in the presence of the King, he thundered out prophecies about the King's and the Pope's impending encounter with God. Both Philip the Fair and Pope Clement V were to die that year - whether by the man of God or of man has never been established. The gullible and the romantically inclined may be disappointed, but the mystification of the lost treasure of the Templars has no historical foundation.
As for their possessions, they were seized by the throne, and to add insult to injury, were handed over to the rival order of the Hospitalers who were also founded in the Holy Land (1050), to welcome pilgrims to Jerusalem. They stayed at the Enclos duTemple until the French Revolution and were disbanded by Napoleon in the early 19th century.
By the early 17th century, the Marais flourished as the aristocratic neighbourhood of Paris. The palace of the Grand Prior of the Temple (built at the time on the corner of the now rues du Temple and Bretagne) was the court of the illegitimate sons of royalty who, like Philip the Duke of Vendome, the grandson of Henri IV and his mistress Gabrielle d'Estrée, led a life of debauchery, but also of literary and artistic brilliance. The Grand Prior, for example, granted La Fontaine an annual pension of 600 francs. After the court's transfer to Versailles it became an alternative court where "gathered those who had nothing to hope for from the King", we are told by Horace Walpole. Louis XVI called the Grand Prior contemptuously "my cousin the lawyer". Walpole, on the other hand, described his as "handsome, of royal port and amiable" but also as "arrogant, dissolute and prodigal". He was reputed to have kept 4,000 rings in one of his drawers, a farewell token from each repudiated mistress, although some claimed he had added many himself. His favourite, the Comtesse de Boufflers, 'l'idole du Temple', reigned supreme over this scintillating court, to which the 10-year-old Mozart was introduced on his second visit to the capital, to which bears witness Ollivier's famous painting of him in the drawing-room playing the harpsichord to an audience that doesn't seem particularly attentive.
On 13 August 1792, a sumptuous dinner was served in the same room. The guests on this occasion were the Royal family and their retenue, virtually the prisoners of the Commune of Paris. The King was addressed as Monsieur and everyone was treated courteously during the sham celebration, but as soon as dinner was over the royal couple, their two children and the King's sister were locked up in the Tower of the Temple, while the other women were transferred to the prison of La Force (now the 4th arrondissement), unknown to the people of Paris. This was the beginning of the tragic extinction of the Royal family. The King was kept at the Temple until his execution on 21 January 1793. It was from here that his tumbril left for the guillotine on Place de la Révolution (now Place de la Concorde), through the Grands Boulevards. The Queen was transferred to the Conciergerie the following summer, the 14-year-old Princess Royal was exchanged with the Austrian authorities for five Republican prisoners, and the seven-year-old Dauphin was torn away from his family and left to vegetate in a dark cell until his presumed death on 8 June 1795. He was carried for burial to the cemetery of Sainte Marguerite (in the 11th arrondissement), although rumours persisted that somebody else's remains had been buried there in his stead. Indeed, when in 1894 his remains were dug up for examination, they proved to belong to an 18-year-old youth. A modest cross still surmounts the grave, the only one to have survived in what used to be the churchyard. It bears the inscription L...XVII 1785-1795, a strange memorial to the last King of the Ancien Régime, unbeknownst to most Parisians, including to most neighbours.
Napoleon prudently razed the Temple Tower to the ground, the Royalists having made it their shrine. The original romanesque church and its churchyard soon met the same fate. Only the palace of the Grand Prior was still standing when the Princess Royal returned from exile to the tragic site during the Restoration, there to pray and plant a weeping willow. Used by the Ministry of Religion at the time of Napoleon, as a convent during the Restoration, and as a military barracks during the Second Republic, it was torn down by Napoleon III in 1853, Baron Haussmann's project for a new Paris being under way.
(More about the Templars’ neighbourhood is to be found in the chapter on the third arrondissement of Around and About Paris, Volume 1).
ART GALLERIES IN LE MARAIS
Le Marais is overflowing with innovative art galleries everywhere you look. Whereas the galleries on the left bank in Paris specialise in ancient and antique art, the right bank, and especially in the north of le Marais, attracts artists of a more contemporary style. A veritable Parisian enclave of innovation and creativity in every genre, le Marais explodes with the latest trends in painting and sculpture as well as installations, video and living art. Apart from the well-established galleries of the Place des Vosges who exhibit already world-renowned works, it is the area of rue Vielle du Temple, rue de Turenne, rue Charlot and the Picasso Museum that the most important of these galleries can be found. As one of the most fashionable neighbourhoods of Paris, the north of le Marais is where young creative talent expresses itself the most
Street artists are in permanent exhibition in particular at the Anne Vignial Gallery (Rue Charlot) who, among others, exhibits the astonishing talent of Jeff Aerossol. Graphic art transforms itself through the alphabet into hanging paintings and silk scarves at Kakeboton (rue de la Corderie).
Scour and explore le Marais with an art gallery guide and discover these innovative creators who are constantly renewing their work, themselves, and us.
Triptique with Alfred Hitchcock: NO FUN (1m high by 2.5m wide approximately is only 3500€ as a promotion price of this great new French artist.)
Among the top galleries, this January, you must not miss:
Vintage Photography : A chacun son image Photography
Photography specializing in portraits, Fabien Breuvart opened his boutique in June 2004 entirely dedicated to expressing your image.
He offers the best souvenir you can take home: a personalized portrait in pure classic style, black and white or color, unique and memorable, starting at only 90€. He also offers a fantastic selection of Old Paris pictures starting at only 5€ a great idea for a present !
LAST MINUTE RENTALS & HOTELS DEALS
LAST MINUTE TRIP? Still haven’t planned your sales week in Paris? Well, now is the time to book and enjoy low season prices at the last minute…
You can receive 20% to 40% off the regular prices for most hotels and apartment rentals in January, so don’t hesitate to ask our selected partners.
To ride in luxury style from the airport to your hotel or apartment, Crystal Limousine service offers you upscale, reliable service in exclusive top-range models such as the new Mercedes S-class or the Peugeot 607.
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