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Paris: Favorite Bench in the City

Let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre (Photo by Theadora Brack)

By Theadora Brack

Everybody’s got a favorite bench in the world. I’ve got mine, too. So this week, let’s hoof it on up to my pet perch, located at Place Émile-Goudeau in Montmartre. Here the unstoppable showstopper Dame Nature dresses to the nines—winter, spring, summer, and fall, and definitely at l’heure bleue. Slaying picture perfect moments as she works her 24-karat magic on the ancient buildings. Mine eye has seen the glory.

Favorite Bench at Place Émile-Goudeau: L'Amour Court Les Rues by Artist and photographer Wilfrid Azencoth (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Favorite Bench at Place Émile-Goudeau: L’Amour Court Les Rues by Artist and photographer Wilfrid Azencoth (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Never demure

Do pack the camera and a sketchbook because this square is also the perfect spot to mull over art’s function in urban street planning, day and night. The Art Nouveau street furniture blends so well with the trees that the eye can’t always separate the organic from the man-made. Power dressing right on point, the city’s attention to harmonious detail and its resulting beauty never, ever fail to re-energize my spirits.

Now, let’s commandeer one of the coveted benches. Scoot on over!

On the left: You’ll see Pablo Picasso’s former digs, named “le Bateau-Lavoir” because of its resemblance to one of the laundry barges on the Seine, Place Émile-Goudeau (Photo by Theadora Brack)

On the left: You’ll see Pablo Picasso’s former digs, named “le Bateau-Lavoir” because of its resemblance to one of the laundry barges on the Seine, Place Émile-Goudeau (Photo by Theadora Brack)

On the left

You’ll see Pablo Picasso’s former digs. Named “le Bateau-Lavoir” because of its resemblance to one of the laundry barges on the Seine, this former piano factory was converted into artist studios around 1880. Rent was just fifteen francs, noise and chaos abounded, and newspapers served as table linens. From 1904 to 1909, Picasso shared a tiny room with artist Fernande Olivier, three dogs, and one mouse.

It was here that Picasso also met Georges Braque, who was living on the other side of the hill. “Notre pard,” Picasso took to calling the six-foot boxer, race car driver and dancer, a phrase he pinched from “Les Histoires de Buffalo Bill.” A tight bond was formed, and Cubism took flight. Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon—considered by many art historians to be the first modern painting—was painted here.

Do pack the camera and a sketchbook because Place Émile-Goudeau is also the perfect spot to mull over art’s function in urban street planning, day and night (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Do pack the camera and a sketchbook because Place Émile-Goudeau is also the perfect spot to mull over art’s function in urban street planning, day and night (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Tip: Where did Picasso and Fernande shop for their secondhand duds? At the nearby Halle Saint-Pierre, that’s where. Located in Montmartre’s fabric district, the former 19th-century market is now an art museum, similar in spirit to Switzerland’s Collection de l’Art Brut and Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum. Featuring works by self-taught and outsider artists, art lines the walls in the café, too.

Sample HSP’s house red and the homemade quiche and gaze up through the big windows at Sacre Coeur to your heart’s desire.

On the right: your eye will spy one of the Wallace fountains, rocking a monochromic emerald green with high waist detail and a slit at the knee, Place Émile-Goudeau (Photo by Theadora Brack)

On the right: your eye will spy one of the Wallace fountains, rocking a monochromic emerald green with high waist detail and a slit at the knee, Place Émile-Goudeau (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Now, on the right

Meanwhile, back on the bench at Émile-Goudeau, your eye will spy one of the Wallace fountains, rocking a monochromic emerald green with high waist detail and a slit at the knee. In Paris, there are 108 such “fontaines Wallace” and three functional “puits artésien” (artesian wells). The largest model, nicknamed the “Brasserie des quatre femmes” (brewery of the four women), sports four caryatides, each symbolizing kindness, simplicity, charity, and sobriety.

Shape of water: The Wallace fountains were named after the British philanthropist and art collector Sir Richard Wallace, who generously financed the installation of the first 50 fountains throughout Paris after the Franco-Prussian War left the city with almost no clean drinking water. Designed by Charles Auguste Lebourg, these cast iron fountains in four versions remain celebrated darlings of the Paris streetscape.

Keep your peepers peeled: You’ll find the Wallace fountains in various sizes located in all the city’s busiest parks, squares and at intersections in each arrondissement, Montmartre-Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Keep your peepers peeled: You’ll find the Wallace fountains in various sizes located in all the city’s busiest parks, squares and at intersections in each arrondissement, Montmartre-Abbesses (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Tip: Thirsty? Don’t fret. You’ll find the Wallace fountains in various sizes located in all the city’s busiest parks, squares and at intersections in each arrondissement. The water is free for the sipping; all you need is an empty cup or bottle. Most grocery stores stock these, along with other sightseeing supplies: contact solution, eye-drops, bandages, Ibuprofen, and the almighty important sunscreen.

Just do it. Because as famed Francophile Benjamin Franklin once put it, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water, my friend!”

Happy Spring! Stay hydrated!

(Instagram fanatic? Please leave a link below. Here’s where to find more of my Paris pics: @theadorabrack)

Here the unstoppable showstopper Dame Nature dresses to the nines—winter, spring, summer, and fall, and definitely at l'heure bleue, Place Émile-Goudeau and rue d'Orchampt (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Here the unstoppable showstopper Dame Nature dresses to the nines—winter, spring, summer, and fall, and definitely at l’heure bleue, Place Émile-Goudeau and rue d’Orchampt (Photo by Theadora Brack)

The Art Nouveau street furniture blends so well with the trees that the eye can’t always separate the organic from the man-made, Place Émile-Goudeau and rue Berthe (Photo by Theadora Brack)

The Art Nouveau street furniture blends so well with the trees that the eye can’t always separate the organic from the man-made, Place Émile-Goudeau and rue Berthe (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Pretty in Pink: Flamingos holding court at Place Émile-Goudeau and rue Berthe (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Pretty in Pink: Flamingos holding court at Place Émile-Goudeau and rue Berthe (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Power dressing right on point, the city’s attention to harmonious detail and its resulting beauty never, ever fail to re-energize my spirits, Place Émile-Goudeau and rue Berthe (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Power dressing right on point, the city’s attention to harmonious detail and its resulting beauty never, ever fail to re-energize my spirits, Place Émile-Goudeau and rue Berthe (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Still there, still there, gone: Dame Nature working her 24-karat magic on Pablo Picasso’s former digs at sunset, Place Émile-Goudeau (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Still there, still there, gone: Dame Nature working her 24-karat magic on Pablo Picasso’s former digs at sunset, Place Émile-Goudeau (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Happy Spring! Stay hydrated! Wallace Fountain, Place Émile-Goudeau (Photo by Theadora Brack)

Happy Spring! Stay hydrated! Wallace Fountain, Place Émile-Goudeau (Photo by Theadora Brack)

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52 thoughts on “Paris: Favorite Bench in the City

    • Thanks, Frank! I also love the view to the left. Apparently, before the piano factory was built, there was a little eatery and dance hall here—with a gigantic pear tree. Some say, folks used to dine on a platform up in the tree. The mind squeals!

      Enjoy the weekend,
      Theadora

      (And more beach walks, please!)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Great to hear from you Anita! Any travel updates? Oh, you’ll return to Paris one day. I know it.

      And yes, Georges Braque lived nearby on rue Caulaincourt and rue d’Orsel, too.

      One day, feeling brazen, Braque asked the owner of his building on rue d’Orsel to post a sign stating that there were “Cubists on every floor!”

      I love this story. Enjoy the weekend!
      T.

      Like

    • And a cat! After Picasso and artist Fernande Olivier moved to a larger flat at 11 Boulevard de Clichy, a monkey joined the family!

      Enjoy the weekend!
      Theadora

      Like

    • Oh, I love Halle Saint-Pierre. A recent exhibition gave props to movie props, specifically ones created by filmmakers Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It was wonderful. And so is the surrounding fabric district.

      Do you have a favorite bench in the city?!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, yes the area is nice too. bench no I like to keep walking ! well did sat several times by the basin of the jardin des tuileries for a rest after lunch!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Brigitte! I love this square. So much history!

      So much gossip, too. Modigliani also lived in the ’hood: Le Bateau Lavoir (1906) and 7 Place Jean-Baptiste Clément (1906-1907).

      Here Modigliani started experimenting with sculpting heads with railroad cross-ties stolen from the Barbès-Rochechouart Métro Station, which was still under construction at the time.

      Oh, la la!
      T.

      (Have a wonderful weekend! And I’m digging your Instagram posts. Thanks for the inspiration!)

      Like

  1. Only you could write about a bench in a fashionable way! Thanks for sharing your favorite bench with a view. Cheers, Theodora! I am sure the water from the fountain is delightful. Happy spring.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Oh, thanks for your kind words!! And yes, the water is pretty darn great. There’s a also another Wallace Fountain at the nearby Place Abbesses. Hooked on fountains! Abbesses is lucky to have two.

      Happy Spring!!
      T.

      Like

  2. Beautiful photos! It’s no wonder Picasso was inspired. Every cityscape and view from the bench is a work of art. I love the fountains too. I hope you’ll get plenty of bench time in this spring and summer!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Happy Spring, Sheila! Thanks for your kind words. Yes, Place is one of my favorite spots in the city. Perfect for writing, people-watching, and book reading, too.

      You’d love it!
      Theadora

      (Again, I love your family book club idea. What is the current read?)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll have to make sure to go there someday! We just finished Sweet Thursday. Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and I loved Cannery Row, but had never gotten around to Sweet Thursday until the book club. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Adding Sweet Thursday to my springtime reading list. So the book inspired Duke Ellington’s Suite Thursday.
        Interesting! Thanks for the book inspo, Sheila!
        T.

        Like

      • Yay! It can be a bit dated every once in a while but I love how Steinbeck shows community life. I didn’t know that about Suite Thursday – thanks for letting me know!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Alexander! I’m still trying to dig up a few more stories about the old dance hall with the pear tree. So intriguing. Again, it’s a great spot. Location. Location. Location. Amélie’s grocery store is just a block away. And Dalida’s former digs are just around the corner.

      Enjoy the evening!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, you will love it! If time permits, add Chez Ammad at the Grand Hotel de Clermont (18 rue Véron) to your list. Located in Abbesses-Montmartre, it’s usually packed with the locals. Affordable drinks. Often couscous is on the menu, too.

      Keep this tip under your hat!
      T.

      Like

  3. Thank you Theadora. A great post. you piqued my curiosity with the name “Place Emile Goudeau”. I thought “Montmartre”? Where? Then the Bateau-Lavoir explained it all. 🙂
    Has Spring arrived already?
    🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yes, add the bench to your July list! Fabulous view. Place Emile Goudeau is located about one or two up from rue des Abbesses (Place des Abbesses). Worth the hike, I do believe.

      And thanks for your kind words!
      T.

      (Post bench visit spots: Café Saint-Jean and Chez Ammad.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • ‘Pleasure. 🙂
        I realized it’s one of the ways I go down from Montmartre. I tend to grab a street down, then turn right then left. Or the contrary. I like a random walk. But this is definitely on the way to Abbesses. Spots noted too. Merci. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  4. The note was hanging from a red ribbon fastened to the door of my little house in Paris. “Place Emile-Goudeau, 11:59 pm, April 10th. Bring cake. Signed – The Tin Man.” Tinny knew I always spend April in Paris. And that on April l0th I would be baking layers of delicate almond meringue – filling the layers with espresso flavoured custard then topping the creation with chocolate ganache and pillows of whipped cream. Trust The Tin Man to plan a birthday celebration in this unusual setting. On Theador’s favorite park bench. With her favorite cake and of course everyone’s favorite champagne.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Oh, thank you, Virginia. I love your description of the cake. Perhaps I’ll celebrate with a three-layered Hummingbird Cake with a cream cheese icing? Another winner from your book of recipes! So many choices . . . Let them eat cake, indeed. The perfect meal: day and night.

      Big Hugs,
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great photography. That does seem like a pretty good bench. My favourite bench used to be in the cathedral gardens in Chichester. But alas, I no longer work in Chichester, so I need to find a new favourite bench 🙂

    Like

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