Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Paris: not always the city of love...


Do you see these holes in this building? If you go to the Ecole Militaire (7th arrondissement), a Military school where young Napoleon was once trained you'll see thousands of them. Is it due to a defect in the stone? Not really, these holes are bullet holes that probably come from of our many battles throughout time! I have been told that they have been left to remind us of our history.

41 comments:

  1. What great history, and after all those years they are still visible for people to see. Great work Eric.

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  2. Somewhere on the Left Bank (I think) there is a cannonball stuck in a wall several feet from the ground. It's been there since the revolt of 1848. Passing it, I remember thinking that these, too, are war memorials of a kind: not as sad as tombstones, or as triumphal as sculpture or commemorative architecture, but reminders nonetheless of how, in the cols light of historical hindsight, the fever of war looks distinctly absurd. After all, this now "dead" round, despite having once been deadly, looked no more of an threat to human life than piece of grit in a schoolboy's grazed knee. Yet, how can we overlook the fact that had there not been a wall to stop it, someone (perhaps a schoolboy) might have lost more than his knee? Yes, Paris is wounded, but her scars are memories of bloodier times - and even a reminder that, elsewhere in the world, such wounds are still being inflicted on both building and bodies.

    A fitting (probably unintended) epilogue to yesterday's "war of words".

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  3. That's a good idea. All to often we wash away, patch up, or tear down history that is important and possibly vital, not only to our past but also to our future. I truly believe that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

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  4. Sans typos (note to self - "proofread, proofread, proofread"):

    Somewhere on the Left Bank (I think) there is a cannonball stuck in a wall several feet from the ground. It's been there since the revolt of 1848. Passing it, I remember thinking that these, too, are war memorials of a kind: not as sad as tombstones, or as triumphal as sculpture or commemorative architecture, but reminders nonetheless of how, in the cold light of historical hindsight, the fever of war looks distinctly absurd. After all, this now "dead" round, despite having once been deadly, looked no more of a threat to human life than piece of grit in a schoolboy's grazed knee. Yet, how can we overlook the fact that, had there not been a wall to stop it, someone (perhaps a schoolboy) might have lost more than his knee? Yes, Paris is wounded, but her scars are memories of bloodier times - and even a reminder that, elsewhere in the world, such wounds are still being inflicted on both building and bodies.

    A fitting (probably unintended) epilogue to yesterday's "war of words".

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  5. Louis' musing is poetic. The images evoke life itself. Scars of past troubles, memorials, once acute and virulent, now merely commemorative. Had we not had strength, or luck, to brave the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, how could we have survived? Friends as walls and fortresses protecting us from being 'cut off at the knees'. Bullet holes, indeed. I believe a city is a living organism, maturing, growing, ailing, bleeding, celebrating, loving and being loved. J'taime Paris.

    (Don't worry about the typos, Louis, they're like the wounds in the wall!)

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  6. I too like the idea that these are left, harsh, stark and a constant reminder, a warning even. I am interested in the precise timing of the battles, the history attached to them.

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  7. There's a little bit of 'history in the present' in my choice of photo today from the uk, too, on my blog. Another similarity Eric, quelle surprise...

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  8. Louis, don't worry about the typos. We all leave them (shrug).

    I didn't realize they kept these bullets holes on purpose. You can see a lot of them outside Paris as well.

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  9. I wonder if there are any bullet holes in buildings in the USA. There might be. We have had a few confrontations but not like France and other European countries.

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  10. In St. Louis bullet holes that don't get fixed are usually downtown.

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  11. I like the evidence of history! I walked by this building several times but never made it up close. Thanks! (Wow, I tried this site over and over, gave up, tried again later and the whole site was down (all of blogger)...finally got in).

    Johnny, last month I visited Fredericksburg, Virginia (many Civil War battles there) and I think I saw bulletholes in several buildings but I couldn't be sure. I forgot to bring my camera that day so unfortunately I have no pictures of the town at all! I've included a link to some photos if anyone would like to take a look...some of Paris too.

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  12. I have a story about these very marks Eric. Last year I followed a cycling tour around Paris called Mike's Bike Tours (highly recommended!). It starts at the foot of the Eiffel tower and goes round the Ecole militaire, the Invalides, the Louvre and back. Great fun.

    When we arrived in front of these marks our guide (an American living in Paris)told us they dated back to the final days before the liberation of Paris in 1944. And he added that on a previous tour, one of the American tourists had commented in awe: "Amazing that the bullets hit the wall in many places but not the windows, they're all intact!"

    Great sense of humour!

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  13. Nice photo Eric. I like the reminders these bring but they can be harsh when we think that some of those bullets mihgt have hit someone. It is good to remember.

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  14. Nathalie - I've seen these groups around Paris before, but when checking on the web found out that Mike's Bikes is no longer. It has now become Fat Tire Bike Tours and they also have similar outfits in Berlin & Barcelona.

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  15. Cor! Those bullet oles are somefing else. Cool picture, dude.

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  16. You're right Michael, they have changed names, thanks for the research. They were called Mike's Bike Tours when I took the tour and it's still the same people operating under the new name. Very professional. The group of tourists on their bikes would make a good picture Eric ;)

    BTW on Sydney Daily Snap today we are in Rue des Canettes in Paris, without leaving Sydney. How is that possible? Check it out!

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  17. Boy Michael, there's not a thing online you can't come up with! You're just a handy guy to have around PDP!

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  18. Just looked on my blog and there's a horribly depressing 0 visitors. Nil points. How do i get more directed there?
    Glum of Gloucestershire. lol x

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  19. Simple, you advertise on PDP in a nice way! I'm sure Dr. A's way worked some too, but you get much nicer responses this way!

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  20. ok then Soosha thanks. So!
    I should like to request the pleasure of your company, all at PDP, at my blog, well one of them at least, which is a daily photo site from the UK. When i first started it, i aimed to post from all areas but i've been so busy working it is so far mostly Gloucestershire, which is close to the Midlands; a beautiful area, famous for the Cotswold villages. Other areas will follow though, for sure. You may also like to visit ukartistdailypainting.blogspot.com and read the first part of my completed but as yet unpublished novel at www.underatrain.blogspot.com
    I thank you and look forward to seeing you. Je vous remercie et j'attends avec l'impatience... x

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  21. Thanks for visiting Soosha - yey! Agree it would be good to have more of these plaques and your nominee least is inspiring. If the rest of you don't know what we're talking about, you'll just have to go to my blog! Shameful self-publicity, yes....:)

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  22. nominee list, not least. Sorry, I'm tired.... !

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  23. There are a lot of cities in Europe with similar holes of history, also my hometown - Warsaw.

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  24. its very nice to have memories like this...especially if its from the Napoleon times. We have holes like this too...but they are too fresh.:(

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  25. In Chicago, go right up to Holy Name Cathdral. You will see bullet holes from the days of Al Capone. His enemy had a flower shop right across the street. Some shots strayed.

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  26. What can I say? I hope to reach the quality, the beauty and the sensibility of your shots...and also your number of contacts!!!

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  27. Lynn,

    I've visited your blog a couple of times but cannot post there.

    I have tried to set up a blog profile but am having the same problem as you (not able to post a picture). If you find out...let me know here! Thanks! I like your photos also.

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  28. Thanks for answering that question -- I just passed them a couple of weeks ago, and wondered about that.

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  29. If only we could learn from these reminders, but it seems we are caught in a cycle of stupidity.

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  30. Glad I could help Soosha_q.

    Here's another site everyone should check out. Soosha_q's avatars ! I'm really impressed with your talent. How long have you been doing this and is it difficult?

    Maybe you can get Eric to have you make one for PDP!

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  31. Michael,
    I try to get Soosha's blog but everytime my server goes nuts and cancels my internet connection. What I have seen is impressive.

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  32. OMG guys, I'm blushing! Seriously! Michael, I think you are my #1 fan, at least as far as my avatars are concerned. You're the best. And thank you to you as well, johnny.

    Just to clarify, I only made the ones that say "soosha_q made" or something to that effect. The others I've collected. (You should see the collection of avatars I have on my hard drive and burned onto cds! I love collecting the little pixels of shunshine!)

    To answer your questions, Michael, I've been making avatars and other digital graphics for...oh, I'd say a year and a half. And no, it's not hard. A constant learning process though, for sure. If you look at the ones on the link you posted, the ones of mine at the top are among my first, and as you go down the line you get ones that are more recent and a bit better. Though I've seen far better then were made by me, so don't gush over them too much!

    Anyway, have a good night, for those of you in and around Paris. And good afternoon to those a little closer to me!

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  33. I think one of the attractions of Paris[or any European city]is the sense of being surrounded by the past and the history of each place. Growing up in Boston[one of the oldest American cities]I find it amusing when people tell me in San Francisco..."Oh it was right near this very old Building"!!! How old can it be??? The whole city of San Francisco was virtually destroyed in 1906 by the Great Earthquake and Fire and later rebuilt...so, how old is old??

    Like "Little Edie" says in "Grey Gardens"..."It's so hard to draw the line between the past and the present"!!!

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  34. vicky hugo: In St. Paul, MN, there is a dance club in an old night club dug into a bluff. It's called Caves of Wabasha or something. When St. Paul was a haven for Chicago gangsters, the Cave was a hip hangout for them. An assassination occurred there, and there is a string of bullet holes in a line across the stone wall from a Tommy gun. That story is a bit amusing, though the Paris wall is not.

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  35. Soosha thanks for commenting. Your designs certainly look complicated.

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  36. I have noticed these holes in facades in past visits to Paris and was always curious as to their origin..thank you for solving the mystery for me!
    I leave Monday for Paris (from DC) and although I wish I had discovered your blog earlier I am certainly happy to have found it with the weekend ahead to take copious notes :-)
    Merci bien pour votre aide!

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  37. You might also like to point out to your visitors the many plaques around town "to the fallen" from August 1944 when the Parisians rose up against the German occupiers. Sometimes you'll see a wreath or a bunch of flowers (often dead) attached. And if you read the inscriptions you'll find a lot of these people were only in their early twenties. And yes...the bullet holes in the Ecole Militaire are from that same bloody month. "Is Paris Burning" is a pretty good read on the Liberation of Paris. And even better one is "Paris - after the liberation" by Antony Beevor & Artemis Cooper (Penguin) which chronicles how the French Forces disobeyed their American commanders and marched on Paris. The Americans weren't concerned with liberating Paris and its historic buildings and art treasures (sound familiar?) - they wanted to skirt around and chase the Germans back over the border - they didn't have the petrol to do both. Von Choltitz, under orders from Hitler, had wired all the famous bridges and monuments with explosives. Lucky for us that the French were so "arrogant & petulant" (a common misconception - especially from stupid Americans).

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  38. It is a very informative and useful post thanks it is good material to read this post increases my knowledge

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