You should be presently hearing 'Im Sommerwind - Idyll für großes Orchester' (Idyll for a large orchestra) by Anton Webern; yes, the very Webern of the 'Wiener Schule' and friend of Schönberg and Berg! To be honest, it should be an early work by a very young composer (still) imitating Wagner and (mostly) Strauß (Richard).

lunettes_3d

People used to visit Paris generally recognize two sections in the town: the West (from the 'Bois de Boulogne' to Notre-Dame and the so-called Île-de-la-Cité) and the East, more popular. Indeed, parts of the East are former suburbs that have been gradually attached to the main town. In fact, the real Paris began with the 'Island of the City'. More importantly, the modern Paris is the work of Baron Eugène Haussmann, prefect of Paris under Napoleon III. He was the one who established the major urban standards that give the western part of the town its  particular stamp: buildings of regulated dimensions (never higher than 6 floors), wide boulevards... And those new standards would consequently stimulate the imagination of architects.

Actually the influence of Haussmann on architects continued long after his departure from the prefecture. Indeed, the vast majority of those buildings were built after 1870, and Haussmann was no longer in business. It is also undeniable that the impetus given by Napoleon III and his prefect has continued for nearly 50 years and that the choices made under them were quite relevant for not having been challenged.

From a technical and aesthetic point of view, haussmanian buildings were always made of cut stone with carved or chiseled, in any case, always decorated facades (Picture). The buildings were often equipped with wrought iron balconies, the most spectacular of which could run around the whole building (Picture). By the way, most of the  buildings display the signature of their designers (architect, sculptor) who were for sure very proud of their works!

haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_balcony_3d_st_michel_boulevard
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_balcony_3d haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_balcony_3d
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_balcony

A special feature of that architecture is that the architect often worked along with a sculptor, and that gave us some spectacular facades with carved figures such as  caryatids, atlanteans and mascarons.

mascarons_bd_de_courcelles
mascarons_bd_de_courcelles

A caryatid (carrying something heavy on its head, mostly a balcony) is a female figure inspired by Ancient Greece. Its male counterpart is the atlantean. A mascaron is a carved face (human or animal) put above the main entrance of a building, sometimes in order to preserve the house from evil, or just for decoration.

Walking across Paris, you will see a lot of caryatids and mascarons and some atlanteans among many other figures of humans or animals (horses, lions, etc.). The smallest caryatids are about 50 cm high and compose small green or black fountains that can be seen here and there, for instance in front of the Sainte-Chapelle (left) or on the square of the subway station Pont de Neuilly (right). The biggest one is about 10 m high on Rue de Turbigo.

haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_balcony_3d cariatides_pont_de_neuilly

Champs-Elysées Avenue is supposed to be the most beautiful avenue in the world; that is anyway what French media repeat every July 14th! Unfortunately it has become a big and noisy bazaar - with nothing, but lots of expensive restaurants and shops - crossed each minute by thousands of roaring and polluting cars, and a good opportunity, too for pick-pockets to earn some money. But why are tourists so stupid!? In my younger age I have lived in a little street near the avenue for a couple of years. All my friends were impressed: "What, you live near the Champs? You lucky man!". Ha! Ha! Ha! In French we call it "chambre de bonne" : "Maid's room," a little bedroom with toilet on the floor, located at the top of the building: icy in winter and extremely hot in summer. Anyway, I could keep my fitness climbing seven floors every day, with an amazing look from my window over the Arc de Triomphe!

But although there is quite nothing interesting to see in that overcrowded avenue [except some amazing cultural places such as the Grand Palais, Petit Palais, Palais de la Découverte, and the Théâtre du Rond-Point] I managed to discover (right side about 150 meters from the Arc) a really interesting building, the owner of which is nothing, but a bank: the Hong-Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation. And what is so interesting at that building? would you ask me. A lot of carved playing children looking as if they were real! And at the (right) side of the same building you will see some beautiful "mascarons".

By the way, for all (old) people (=) who are not in the best fitness, the right thing to do is to walk the 'Champs' downhill, I mean from the Arc de Triomphe to La Concorde, then many tourists are not aware of the fact that the avenue is actually located on a hill and that the top is 22 meters higher than the bottom! (More)

caryatid_cariatide
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_balcony_3d_turbigo_rue
caryatid_cariatide
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_mascaron_balcony
caryatid_cariatide
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_balcony
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_balcony
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_mascaron_balcony
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_balcony
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_mascaron_balcony_gare_lyon_railway_station
caryatid_cariatide haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_mascaron_balcony
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_3d_mascaron_balcony_trocadero_wilson_avenue
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_mascaron_balcony_reaumur
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_mascaron_balcony_3d_hsbc_champs_elysees
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_mascaron_balcony_3d_rue_auber
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_mascaron_balcony_3d_bd_de_courcelles
theatre_de_la_renaissance
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_mascaron_champs_elysees_claridge_balcony_3d
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_mascaron_balcony_3d
haussmann_paris_architecture_caryatid_caryatide_monument_building_napoleon_balcon_mascaron_balcony_3d
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
atlantean
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid
caryatid