Friday’s Tall Tales #9

Whenever I photograph a door or gate I wonder about its provenance, who and what has happened across said door or gate. I thought I might pick one from #Thursdaydoors and tell you a bit more about it or……maybe even weave a story about it.

The Sainte-Barbe college was a Parisian school founded in 1460 on the Sainte-Geneviève hill and located in rue Valette. Until June 1999, when it closed, it was the “oldest” college in Paris. Its buildings, refurbished by Louis-Ernest Lheureux (1827-1898) and rehabilitated by Antoine Stinco, house the Sainte-Barbe library, inter-university library, as well as one of the university centres of the Panthéon-Assas university.

The origins of the Sainte-Barbe College go back to the end of the Middle Ages. It is the only medieval college whose name still existed until a few years ago and which remained in the same location. The identity of the founder of the college remains under debate. It would seem that in 1430, Jean Hubert opened a boarding house in the Hôtel des Coulons. Then, thirty years later, it was in the former Hôtel des Chalons, located in the old rue de Reims (now defunct), that Geoffroy Lenormand, a renowned professor at the Collège de Navarre, set up a private college.

The college was named for Saint Barbara which was unusual since colleges typically bore the names of the provinces or countries that had endowed them and from which they received scholarship holders.

The success of Sainte-Barbe was so rapid that the families of parliamentarians sent their children there and the King of Portugal entrusted him with a colony of fifty students. The college enjoyed a great reputation and the number of students increased. Consequently, Lenormand acquired the use of adjoining Hôtel des Coulons, from Jean Hubert, which the college annexed only definitively in 1556.

During the Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants were welcomed in Sainte-Barbe. Accused of complacency with the heretics, it closed in 1589 and didn’t re-open until 1607.

It re-opened as a much smaller college which followed the state curriculum of the full-service colleges. This state of affairs remained until the eve of the Revolution.

At which point the former boarding house buildings are falling apart. The director of the college, Marmontel, also an editor at the Mercure, published a laudatory article on Sainte-Barbe in February 1790, imploring financial aid from the State.

In April 1793, the college was forced to close its doors because of the Revolution. Its buildings were requisitioned as national property and allocated to the College of Equality which became the French Prytanée. During this troubled period, only the Lycée du Prytanée (now Lycée Louis-le-Grand) remained open to students, including a certain number of barbers.

At the end of the Revolution, Sainte-Barbe was reborn thanks to the initiative of Victor de Lanneau, deputy director of the Prytanée since 1797, who bought the premises of the old college. Victor de Lanneau had an interesting past. A former priest who left his order in 1791, he joined the Grand Orient of Paris and remained, like many barbers, linked to Freemasonry.

By 1815 it was functioning as a boarding house for secondary school boys. Sadly by 1831 it was facing bankruptcy only to be saved by former student Édouard Nouvel who installed Adolphe de Lanneau, Victor’s son, as its manager. But its money troubles continue as much of its bricks and mortar is in serious need of refurbishment.

It became a public limited company which gave it sufficient funds to rebuild in 1840. Théodore and Henri Labrouste, both architects, who directed the work and drew up the plans for the new college which was finally completed in 1864 but it was then lacking in students. It consequently needed assistance from the State to continue to operate. But the establishments financial precarity continues.

In 1998, Sainte-Barbe permanently closed its doors to students. The buildings of the former Sainte-Barbe college are renovated and, since March 2009  serve as a university library: the Sainte-Barbe library.

Flowering Friday #9

My mother was blessed with very green fingers, sadly I am not. Buy me flowers or indeed a potted plant and no bookie would give you odds on how long it’ll last. Now, I may be tempting fate here,  but I’m currently still nursing a couple of plants that friends bought me over two months ago. Sadly a couple of recent bouquets barely saw out the week!


However, I absolutely adore plants and flowers in situ and that’s what I’m going to be featuring over the next few months or so. This topiary display was at Longwood Gardens, just outside Philadelphia.

Thursday doors #189

Here are a few more doors from my most recent trip to Paris. TBH I could photograph pretty much every door in Paris but sadly some are obscured by vehicles, others are adorned with dustbins and many I need to dice with death by taking their image from the middle of a busy road. This is probably just as well, otherwise……..

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Dan’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Trip around Jardin du Luxembourg

On the way to our lunch, we cut through the Jardin du Luxembourg –  a delightful spot. Situated on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, in the sixth, it is colloquially referred to as the Jardin du Sénat, because it’s now owned by the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. The name Luxembourg comes from the Latin Mons Lucotitius, the name of the hill where the garden is located.

How it all began

Marie de' Medici, Queen of France | Unofficial Royalty

In 1611, Marie de’ Medici (above), the widow of Henry IV and the regent for the King Louis XIII, decided to build a palace in imitation of the Pitti Palace in her native Florence. She purchased the Hôtel du Luxembourg (today the Petit Luxembourg) and began construction of the new palace. She commissioned Salomon de Brosse to build the palace and a fountain, which still exists.

In 1612 she directed a series of gardeners, most notably Tommaso Francini, to build a park in the style she had known as a child in Florence. Francini planned two terraces with balustrades and parterres laid out along the axis of the château, aligned around a circular basin. He also built the Medici Fountain to the east of the palace as a nympheum, an artificial grotto and fountain, without its present pond and statuary. The original garden was just eight hectares in size.

In 1630 Marie bought additional land and enlarged the garden to thirty hectares, and entrusted the work to Jacques Boyceau de la Barauderie, the intendant of the royal gardens of Tuileries and the early garden of Versailles. He was one of the early theorists of the new and more formal garden à la française, and he laid out a series of squares along an east–west alley closed at the east end by the Medici Fountain, and a rectangle of parterres with broderies of flowers and hedges in front of the palace. In the center he placed an octagonal basin with a fountain, with a perspective toward what is now the Paris Observatory.

Later monarchs largely neglected the garden. In 1780, the Comte de Provence, the future Louis XVIII, sold the eastern part of the garden for real estate development. Following the French Revolution, however, the leaders of the French Directory expanded the garden to forty hectares by confiscating the land of the neighbouring religious order.

Fontaine de Léda, (1807), hidden behind the Medici Fountain

The architect Jean Chalgrin, who designed the Arc de Triomphe, took on the task of restoring the garden. He remade the Medici Fountain and laid out a long perspective from the palace to the observatory. He preserved the famous pepiniere, or nursery garden of the Carthusian order, and the old vineyards, and kept the garden in a formal French style.

Location of the series Reines de France et Femmes illustres (Queens of France and Famous Women) around the central basin.

During and after the July Monarchy of 1848, the park became the home of a large population of statues; first the Queens and famous women of France, lined along the terraces; then, in 1880s and 1890s, monuments to writers and artists, a small-scale model by Bartholdi of his Liberty Enlightening the World (commonly known as the Statue of Liberty) and one modern sculpture by Zadkine.

Marie de Médicis' fountain, now with Polyphemus Surprising Acis and Galatea, by Auguste Ottin (1866)

In 1865, during the reconstruction of Paris by Louis Napoleon, the rue de l’Abbé de l’Épée, (now rue Auguste-Comte) was extended into the park, cutting off about seven hectares, including a large part of the old nursery garden. The building of new streets next to the park also required moving and rebuilding the Medici Fountain to its present location. The long basin of the fountain was added at this time, along with the statues at the foot of the fountain.

View through the gates on Rue Auguste Compte

Gabriel Davioud, under the leadership of Adolphe Alphand, built new ornamental gates and fences around the park, and polychrome brick garden houses. He also transformed what remained of the old Chartreux nursery garden, at the south end of the park, into an English garden with winding paths, and planted a fruit garden in the southwest corner. He kept the regular geometric pattern of the paths and alleys, but did create one diagonal alley near the Medici fountain, which opened a view of the Pantheon.

Nowadays, the garden is largely devoted to a green parterre of gravel and lawn populated with statues and centred on a large octagonal basin of water, with a central jet of water; in it children sail model boats.

In the southwest corner, there is an orchard of apple and pear trees and the théâtre des marionnettes (puppet theatre). The gardens include a large fenced-in playground for young children and their parents and a vintage carousel. In addition, free musical performances are presented in a gazebo on the grounds and there is a small cafe restaurant nearby, under the trees, with both indoor and outdoor seating. The orangerie displays art, photography and sculptures.

Obviously winter isn’t the best time for a visit but I find the gardens delightful all year round.

Last on the card: February 2023

The rules for Brian’s Last on the Card prompt are pretty simple:

1. Post the last photo on your SD card and/or last photo on your phone for the end of the month.
2. No editing – who cares if it is out of focus, not framed as you would like or the subject matter didn’t co-operate.
3. You don’t have to give any explanations, just the photo will do
4. Create a Pingback to this post or link in the comments
5. Tag “The Last Photo”

Trip to the Panthéon

We hadn’t intended to visit the Panthéon but as we were wandering around 5th arrondissement, it would’ve been rude not to pop in and pay our respects.

The Panthéon was the first major monument in Paris. It was built before the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, and was the first to offer a panoramic view over France’s capital. It is located in the Latin Quarter, on the hill of Sainte-Geneviève – oh yes, there are hills in Paris –  opposite the University of Paris (Sorbonne), not far from the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Fascinating when viewed from near or afar thanks to its neo-classical architecture, the building is a work of art by the architect acques-Germain Soufflot (who is also buried in the Pantheon).

The Pantheon in Paris is the place where personalities, largely French, who distinguished themselves in various fields are buried. This is why, if you look carefully at its façade, you will see the inscription:

To great men, the grateful homeland

next to the interesting bas-relief by David d’Angers, alluding to the homeland’s tribute to its imposing heroes.

The great names of science, art, politics and the army are buried here. In its catacombs are the tombs of Pierre and Marie Curie (physicists), Louis Braille (creator of the reading system for the blind), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (philosopher), Alexandre Dumas (writer), Voltaire (writer), Jean Jaurès (politician), René Descartes (philosopher, physicist and mathematician), Jacques-Louis David (painter), Louis Antoine de Bougainville (navigator and officer), among others.

How it all began

Soufflot's original plan for the Church of Sainte Genevieve (1756)

After recovering from being falling gravely ill in 1744, King Louis XV  decided to build a church in honour of the city’s patron saint, Sainte-Geneviève, whose relics were to be housed in the church.

The site of the Panthéon had great significance in Paris history, and was occupied by a series of monuments. It was on Mount Lucotitius, a height on the Left Bank where the forum of the Roman town of Lutetia was located. It was also the original burial site of Sainte-Geneviève, who had led the resistance to the Huns when they threatened Paris in 451. In 508, Clovis, King of the Franks, constructed a church there, which was rededicated to Sainte-Geneviève, who became Paris’ patron saint. Her relics were kept in the church, and were brought out for solemn processions when dangers threatened the city. After recovering from being falling gravely ill in 1744, King Louis XV  decided to build a larger church in honour of the city’s patron saint.

Construction was postponed for various reasons until 1764. Sadly the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot died in 1780 but construction of the new church was already well under way and Soufflot’s former-student Jean Baptiste Rondelet completed the work in 1790.

The building is 110 metres long by 84 metres wide, and 83 metres high, with a same-size crypt below. The ceiling is supported by isolated columns, which hold up an array of barrel vaults and transverse arches. The massive dome is supported by pendentives resting upon four massive pillars. Critics of the plan contended that the pillars could not support such a large dome. Soufflot strengthened the stone structure with a system of iron rods, a predecessor of modern reinforced buildings. 

Panthéon, Paris

The dome, which was designed to rival those of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St Paul’s Cathedral in London, is actually three domes, fitting within each other. The first, the lowest dome, has a coffered ceiling with rosettes, and is open in the centre. Looking through this dome, the second dome is visible, decorated with the fresco The Apotheosis of Saint Genevieve by Antoine Gros. The outermost dome, visible from the outside, is built of stone bound together with iron cramps and covered with lead sheathing, rather than of carpentry construction, as was the common French practice of the period. Concealed buttresses inside the walls give additional support to the dome.

The National Constituent Assembly voted in 1791 to transform the Church of Sainte- Geneviève into a mausoleum for the remains of distinguished French citizens, modelled on the Pantheon in Rome which had been used thus since 17th century. The first panthéonisé was Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, although his remains were removed from the building a few years later. The Panthéon was twice restored to church usage in the course of 19th century – although Soufflot’s remains were transferred inside it in 1829 – until the French Third Republic finally decreed the building’s exclusive use as a mausoleum in 1881. The placement of Victor Hugo’s remains in the crypt in 1885 was its first entombment in over 50 years.

The building’s grandeur is evident as soon as you walk through the door. Its vast interior is obviously gothic, and magnificent. The building has the shape of a Greek cross and its centre is marked by an incredible dome and a neoclassicist interior with decorated floors and countless columns. On its walls are monumental paintings by Chavannes representing important moments in the history of France.

When we visited there were also six showcases (one with bikes pictured above) by Anselm Kiefer and the sound installation by Pascal Dusapin which were created to pay tribute to the dead of WWI.

Pantheon Paris: Facts, History and Tips 2020 travel notes and guides – travel guides

Foucault’s Pendulum is one of the most striking structures in the Pantheon. In January 1851 the French physicist Jean-Bernard Foucault carried out the same experiment at home, using a two-metre long pendulum that allowed him to swing close to the ground. Four weeks later, he performed another test at the Paris Observatory, now with a twelve-metre long pendulum. And on 26 March 26 1851, with the permission of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, a great lover of history and science, he placed a 67 metre pendulum in the middle of the Pantheon to prove his thesis of the Earth’s rotation.

Visitor's Guide To The Pantheon, A Must See Landmark In Paris' Latin Quarter - The Geographical Cure

The tombs are in the basement, which is reached by going down one of the two side stairs. Underground, there’s a round chamber from which a system of corridors where the historical personalities are located.

The word “Pantheon” is of Greek origin and means “a temple of all gods”. And since 1920, the Pantheon in Paris is classified as a historical monument.

Musical February : Day 28

As a big music fan I’m much enjoying taking part in Bee’s ” Love is in Da Blog” Challenge for the month of February. 

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Bee for hosting a very enjoyable challenge and helping to broaden our musical knowledge.

We’re finishing the month-long Challenge with another free choice so it’s just gotta be God is Love, my final track by Lenny Kravitz which is from his fourth studio album Circus released in 1995. This is rather poignant as really it was the whole purpose of the challenge, at least in my mind.

Lenny Kravitz said:

I believe that God is my creator, our creator. Whether we realize it or not, I believe we are all created by the same God. I believe we are all one creation, we are all connected, and I believe that God is the ultimate source of love and all we are looking for.

(Love Is In Da Blog” Rules/suggestions

  1. Join in! No matter where, when and with what. You missed the first day or week? Don’t worry. Just jump in when it suits you.
  2. Send us the link! My blog is public again, so ping-backs work. A ping-back is a link from one WP blog to another. If you blog on another platform, please leave your link in the comments.
  3. Tag your post either with “Love Is In Da Blog” or “LoIsInDaBl” or “Love Is In Da Blog 23” or #LoIsInDaBl23. You can also use these as hashtags for Twitter and other Social Networks to give your post more exposure.
  4. No matter which music the prompt favours, you create with it whatever you please and whatever length you please (no pun intended 😉 ) as long as it is about “LOVE.”
  5. I post the prompt post the day before, so you have some time to make up your mind and create your post. There won’t be two different posts, and I hope it’s not too confusing.
  6. If you like, use this picture for your readers to find the posts.
Love Is In Da Blog 2023 banner
created with Canva

Musical Monday: Cover songs #9

I’ve started 2023 with a series of my favourite cover songs. It’s quite amazing how many artists cover one another’s songs. Sometimes they’re not artists you might expect, sometimes they are………

Joni Mitchell wrote A Case of You in or before 1970. As with many of the songs on her album Blue, it might have been inspired by her relationship with Graham Nash. It is also claimed that it is about Leonard Cohen. She first performed the song at the Amchitka Greenpeace benefit concert in October 1970.

It turns out that the Purple One had a big-time crush on Mitchell, showering her with fan mail, according to the beloved songstress.  A Case of You has since been covered by over 200 artists, though none as poignantly as Prince. First performed live in Minneapolis in 1983, it wasn’t until 2001 that the studio track was laid down. Prince tinkered with various iterations of this much-loved song right up to his untimely death in 2016.

Which version do you prefer? Let me know below.

Musical February : Day 27

As a big music fan I’m much enjoying taking part in Bee’s ” Love is in Da Blog” Challenge for the month of February.

Today’s prompt is an alternative love song from my 50’s so I’m picking Under Cover of Darkness  by American rock band The Strokes.

The single served as the lead single for their fourth studio album, Angles, and was released on line on 9 February 2011 as a free download for 48 hours exclusively. It was the first single release from the band in five years. The track received positive reviews, managing to reach UK’s BBC Radio 1 A Playlist; before going on to debut at number 47 on the respective chart.

The accompanying video was directed and produced by Warren Fu and begins with a clip of the music video for  You Only Live Once, and contains a reference to the song Last Nite. The reference occurs when Julian Casablancas throws his microphone stand (which he also did in the video for “Last Nite”) while stating that “everybody’s singing the same song for 10 years. This led some to believe he was talking about the longevity of arguably the band’s most popular single. However, in a 2014 interview, Casablancas stated that this line was an opinion of the music business essentially churning out the same old pop music without ever innovating, and not a reference to The Strokes or any particular band.

(Love Is In Da Blog” Rules/suggestions

  1. Join in! No matter where, when and with what. You missed the first day or week? Don’t worry. Just jump in when it suits you.
  2. Send us the link! My blog is public again, so ping-backs work. A ping-back is a link from one WP blog to another. If you blog on another platform, please leave your link in the comments.
  3. Tag your post either with “Love Is In Da Blog” or “LoIsInDaBl” or “Love Is In Da Blog 23” or #LoIsInDaBl23. You can also use these as hashtags for Twitter and other Social Networks to give your post more exposure.
  4. No matter which music the prompt favours, you create with it whatever you please and whatever length you please (no pun intended 😉 ) as long as it is about “LOVE.”
  5. I post the prompt post the day before, so you have some time to make up your mind and create your post. There won’t be two different posts, and I hope it’s not too confusing.
  6. If you like, use this picture for your readers to find the posts.
Love Is In Da Blog 2023 banner
created with Canva

French Fancies: Evok Hôtels

If you’re obsessed with design, you’ll love the French Evok Hotel Group.

Faced with Airbnb’s imposing, impersonal presence in Paris, Evok Hotels opened in 2016 to offer unique, community-focused lodgings that would appeal as much to locals as they did to visitors. Creating compelling hangouts has certainly been part of the group’s success – Evok is known for its sexy bars and restaurants worth crossing the city for – as has its emphasis on luxury service and swanky designer interiors.

How it all began

Emmanuel Sauvage réinvente l'hôtellerie de luxe | Les Echos

The group was created in 2014 by Romain Yzerman with hospitality veteran and Managing Director Emmanuel Sauvage (pictured above), initially using property owned by Pierre Bastid. Each destination offers a different variety of luxury: classic French for Nolinski and Restaurant du Palais Royal, exclusive for Hameau de la Volière and Cour des Vosges, casual for Brach, and quirky for Sinner. The brand’s ethos is to find a suitable location, revive it and give it a new lease of life thanks to designers such as Starck, Auer, Deniot, Tollemer, Lecoadic & Scotto, and more.

With a passion for the hotel business, Sauvage has developed a new vision of hospitality and service, guaranteeing the highest quality of attention with extreme personalisation, along with an impulsive spirit and a bit of whimsy, or even a taste for excess. He has discovered a subtle alchemy, cooking up a rare combination of people and styles. As for luxury, Sauvage wants it to mean different things to different people, for different hotels: a style of living for each style of luxury. As a result, each project has its own unique concept.


Since 2015, set in the Jardin du Palais-Royal gardens, right in the heart of historic, artistic and creative Paris, the Michelin-starred Restaurant du Palais Royal, decorated by Christophe Tollemer, pays homage to its environment. After being bought in 2014 by Evok, which invested nearly 2 million euros, the place has been completely redesigned. In the main room of 50 covers, there are works of art by Pierre Camille-Roy and large bay windows overlooking a garden, recreating a contemporary atmosphere in harmony with the gardens. Upstairs, the two private lounges are ideal for confidential lunches and intimate dinners. In fine weather, the terrace is transformed to welcome guests for lunch and dinner in the heart of the garden. On selected nights in the summer, it thrills to the sounds of Jazz Thursdays.


The cottages of Hameau de la Volière are available for rent together or separately. Here, the art of living in the French way is unveiled and is distinguished by decoration with contemporary lines mixing both old wood and stone. Set on the mountainside, with privileged access, they can accommodate up to 12 people per chalet. Spread over 5 floors fully equipped with high-tech home automation, the chalets have large rooms with large terraces or balcony. Many areas are dedicated to relaxation: swimming pool, spa, cinema room, billiards, library, large lounge or bar. Here  concierges, butlers, chefs, sports coaches and baby-sitters are on call.

The Group’s first hotel, Nolinski, is a stone’s throw from the Louvre museum and the expansive Jardin de Tuileries. Classic and refined, the boutique hotel is ideal for those looking for a quintessentially Parisian experience.


Meanwhile, history buffs will appreciate a stay at Evok’s 12-room Cour des Vosges, located in a 17th century building on the city’s oldest and my favourite square. Historical details abound, alongside carefully-curated art pieces, antiques, and collectibles. An afternoon on the tea room terrace overlooking Place des Vosges is a delightful treat.

On the opposite end of Paris, Evok tapped architect and designer Philippe Starck to transform a 1970s mail sorting centre into Brach, a dynamic hotel and sports club in 16th arrondissement where well-heeled Parisians flock to eat, drink, sweat, and see and be seen. Sunday brunch here is an event not to be missed, nor is the charming rooftop garden with excellent cocktails and stunning views of the Eiffel Tower (plus, a chicken coop).

Lastly, in the heart of the Marais, there is the aptly-named Sinner. Eclectic, opulent, and sexy, the Tristan Auer-designed hotel features dim, winding corridors, a Roman-inspired bathhouse and monastic touches. (The Justine suite includes a confessional booth overlooking the oxblood-tiled bathroom; there is another by reception.) After dark, the lobby transforms into a pulsating, smoky club with DJ sets nightly. 

The trio continue to develop Evok beyond the borders of France, with several upcoming international openings, including the Nolinski Venice, designed by Lecoadic & Scotto, and Brach Rome and Brach Madrid, by the one and only Philippe Starck.

All images courtesy of the Evok Hotel Collection