Friday, November 5, 2010

Paris Journal XIV: Street Signs

Streets signs are dramatic in Paris. Walk along the rue de Rennes. As it approaches the boulevard Raspail, where the mythic Sevres-Babylone subway is located, you spot a sign—an arrow pointing straight ahead for Saint Germain and à droite for Montparnasse and Denfert Rochereau. One sign encompasses the greatness of art and literature epitomized by Dumas, Balzac, Proust, Huysmans, Zola, Rodin, Renoir and Picasso. Travel further down the rue de Rennes to rue du Vieux Colombier and you will come to the awning of the Théâtre du Vieux Colombier, established in 1913 by Jacques Copeau and now one of three Parisian venues for the Comédie Française. On the rue Servandoni, a small pathway near the Luxembourg gardens, there is a plaque with the inscription, Ici Messire François de Chansiergues d’Ornano, Diacre Chanoine d’Uzes, qui repose en l’Eglise Saint Gervais, enterprit la fondation des Petits Seminaires, 1666. The famed Hôtel Lutetia, which was once Gestapo headquarters, stands with its auspicious maroon canopies at the corner of the boulevard Raspail and the rue de Rennes. On a wall next to the front entrance is a sign whose gravitas is conveyed by its simplicity, stating pithily, Hôtel Lutetia—Rive Gauche, and further down, with its elegant department-store-style turning door, is another sign, which reads, in part, Leur joie ne pouvait effacer l’angoisse et la peine des familles des milliers de disparus qui attendirent vainement les leurs en ces lieux. En Anglais, “Their joy couldn’t erase the anguish and the pain of the families of the thousands of disappeared who waited vainly for their loved ones in these places. This inscription was put up on the fortieth anniversary of the liberation of the camps.

1 comment:

  1. For an excellent article on Paris Street signs, see:


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