Gangs of New Paris

Hey amigos.

Class this morning met at La Bastille, aka Mary only had to leave 10 mins before class started to arrive on time. Why? Because I live there! Some history of the area you ask? Why, surely.

The Bastille was originally built by Charles V (in the 14th century.. I made a mistake with this date in class, and my teacher would not let me forget it) to act as the eastern fortress guarding the wall surrounding the city (along with a new wall that he was building around an expanding city). At the time, the area was mostly pastural, without the dense crowded streets of a city yet. Being so “far” from the center, the quarter became a worker’s quarter, where many tradesmen settled. This, by nature, made it a revolutionary quarter, as it was so close to “les peuples” of Paris, the strongest revolutionary force. The smaller streets of this district north and east of the Marais were perfectly suited to the barricading that was so popular throughout the RevolutionS (plural is very important here), which blocked the police from entering and breaking up the manifestation.

Obviously, the taking of the Bastille in 1789 is the most famous revolutionary act committed here, but also to note is that the famous musical Les Misèrables, is about this quarter and a barricade built right here, from the streets St. Antoine to Faubourg St. Antoine in the Place de la Bastille. Victor Hugo himself lived not far from here in the Place des Vosges (see previous post for pictures of the place), a nice royal square, which marks the northeast corner of the Marais district.

The Bastille, no longer standing (detruit après la Revolution), was replaced by a memorial for “les trois jours glorieux,” or the three day revolution that swept the monarchy back to power in 1830. Buried under it are the victims of that revolution and the subsequent 1848 revolution. The place is flanked on one side by the Canal St. Martin, offering views of the water and lots of private boats, as well as the Opera Bastille, an opera built “for the people” (as opposed to the Opera Garnier, which is the large, ornate, famous one, built back in the day for the emperor and the rich). And then of course there’s the street that I live on, which is clearly the most important part of Place de la Bastille.

We also rode up to Père Lachaise cemetery, which is the biggest “jardin” in Paris (built originally in the “exterior” of Paris as a solution to the problem of interring people in an urban environment, but its obvi not on the exterior anymore!), where are interred many famous people, including Molière, Proust, Haussman, etc etc. Anyway, Tuesdays are my favorite because we always go to lunch after class. We picked a very busy looking place that seemed to have either a lot of business men or a lot of people leaving funerals and my meal was so-so (some sauce with Dijon mustard that I straight up DID NOT like. whoa.) but I had dessert at a restaurant for the first time (yes, I know, that seems strange to me too) and OMG the crême brulée was fantastic. Like, legitimately, I have never had better.

Now I repose calmly chez moi. I sit here trying to study for my midterm on Thursday in a post nap haze. I am supposed to meet some friends for dinner in the Marais, apparently there is an American style froyo joint that beckons?

Some exciting news, I recently booked a trip with friends to Barcelona for the weekend of July 8th (thanks mom!). I am very excited. Also in my future are Versailles on Friday and, oh yeah, A MIDTERM on Thursday, in case you didn’t pick that up yet.

Anyway, lots of love and creme brulee from day 22!



About maryshorey

"I think about the hands I’ve held, the places I’ve seen, that vast lands whose dirt is caked on the bottom of my shoes. The world has changed me." Amelia Earhart
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