(For more Paris pages please scroll down)
One of the best frames for viewing the Eiffel Tower is from a distance on the other side of the Seine at Trocadéro, beneath the golden limestone buildings of the Palais de Chaillot.
Louis XVIII had proposed that a villa be built on this hill in Chaillot, which was just a village at the time. The name Trocadéro was intended to commemorate the victory of the duc d'Angoulême, son of the future king, in capturing the town of Trocadero, Spain, in 1823 and although the villa was never built, the name has remained.
The Great Expositions of the past have left us many gifts. One such is the Jardin du Trocadéro, constructed by Jean Charles Alphand to accent the oriental Trocadéro Palace with its two 70 metre high minarets - designed by Gabriel Davioud for the Universal Exposition (World’s Fair) of 1878.
The garden remains but the original palace was demolished and on the same site the current building was erected for another Universal Exposition (World's Fair), that in 1937, and at that time the gardens also got a facelift.
These grand spectacles were designed to impress the world when France was the second largest colonial empire in the world.
They continue to impress, as they complement each other on either side of the Seine.
The view looking towards the Eiffel Tower from Trocadéro Gardens has been carefully framed.
It was from here when Adolf Hitler was in Paris on his whirlwind tour of the newly conquered city in 1940, that he viewed the Eiffel Tower...
...though today not everyone who visits comes for the view – for it is a popular Paris skateboard venue.
The statues seemed undaunted by the biting cold amidst the fountains and waterfalls.
These two sculptured blocks frame the lower fountains.
On them are "Jeunesse" ("Youth"), by Pierre Poisson, and "Joie de Vivre" ("Joy of Life"), by Léon Drivier.
Further up the slope, an energetic fountain pumps jets of water at 5700 litres per second – but this lady is in a more serene spot.
She stares eternally at the tower, even when people are writing names on her derrière…
…or is she actually looking at the horse heads below her, as they seem to frolic above what could be a leaking drinking trough.
Wisely, this man is holding back his horse lest he, too lose his head!
Some unattributed person once made the wise observation that a dog may be man's best friend, but the horse wrote history.
It is fitting that here there is not only a statue to the Roman Soldier, but also of his mount.
In Roman times, Paris was home of the wealthy Parisii - a Celtic tribe who, when breaking their former allegiance to Caesar by supporting another Roman General, caused the overthrow of their settlement and the formation of the Roman city of Lutetia. This became a crossroad of the Roman Empire: the north-south road (now rue St. Jacques) from Spain and Orléans (Cenabum) crossing the Seine and onwards to the north, and the east-west road from Italy and Lyon through Paris (now rue Galande) and on to Normandy (Facts from Didier Busson, 2003).
I sat and admired this 1853 statue of "Un Guerrier Romain" ("A Roman Soldier") by Louis Daumas, and remembered the Bedouin legend:
…and Allah took a handful of southerly wind,
blew His breath over it,
and created the horse....
Thou shall fly without wings,
without any sword,
A horse can conquer the heart – even in sculpture.
Perhaps it is because they remind us of famous relationships between a person and his or her mount - or even of our own. Or perhaps it is respect for their intelligence.
I appreciate the British Law that states that one can be pulled over by the Police for being "drunk in charge of a bicycle", but not "drunk in charge of a horse", for the Police know that a horse has more sense than to act upon a stupid or dangerous command - whether by an alcoholically enhanced person or not.
So take note! If you have been drinking, ride a horse home instead of driving anything with wheels.
At any rate, I always spend a short while looking at this great animal looking down at me as he stands with his rider against the Paris sky.
More Paris pages:
Paris Notre Dame Cathedral
Paris Notre Dame Tower
Paris Eiffel Tower
Paris: Theatre at Large
Go back to Main Page