Category Archives: Paris civic functions

Vespasiennes: Does a Roman Emperor Deserve This?

Our home offices are in two adjacent rooms. While exploring one of my favourite Paris websites, Paris en Images, I called to Philippa, “What’s a Vespasienne?” and was instantly told, “A public urinal.” There had to be a blog in … Continue reading

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A city built on air

A few years ago, we found this postcard in a street market, showing a sinkhole in the Place Saint-Augustin. What on earth (or under the earth) had happened during the storm of June 15, 1914? We found one account in … Continue reading

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The invention of the omnibus

Take a good look at this postcard. What do you see? I tend to gravitate to postcards like this because of the rich detail in the buildings – the names of businesses, the façades of the old houses, the advertisements, … Continue reading

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The Other Great Nineteenth-Century Tower of Paris

The story begins in a photograph shop in the Village St-Paul. I was browsing among the stereograph cards, when I came across something that looked like this. It captivated me. I say “looked like,” because this is not the same … Continue reading

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The art and purpose of the colonne sèche

The Parisienne colonne sèche is not a medical condition or procedure. However, a colonne sèche could be very good for your health, particularly in the event of a fire. There is no need to look hang-dog about it. Paris is … Continue reading

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Lighting the City of Light

Opinion is divided on whether the name “City of Light” refers to the brilliant minds of the city’s 18th-century philosophers, or to the brightly illuminated streets of the capital. There are arguments to be made on both sides. If the … Continue reading

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Sailing ships and rowboats

Père Lachaise Cemetery, spring 2010. I took this photograph, wondering what on earth a “caveau depositoire” might be. Turns out it is a temporary storage spot for bodies awaiting burial. But what attracted my attention at first was the image … Continue reading

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