Maps, The Louvre and Palais Royal

Here Comes Joannie! Part Two

15 rue de Richeleau 75001

*if you haven’t read part one, I insist you stop here and go back to the previous post.. For everyone else, fix yourself an Old Fashion because this is a long one.. . .

One of the big reasons I created this page was to bring attention to the endless number of significant historical landmarks that can easily be found around Paris for anyone to see. If you know where to look …

Many of these are marked with plaques that explain the significance of the site: however many more are not marked at all, or they aren’t easily accessible. These are the ones that fascinate me. After 8 years in Paris and many hours spent browsing dusty books in libraries or late nights online, anything labeled “Paris Secret/Unknown/Mysterious” catches my eye. But rarely am I surprised now adays. Until I came across an online article that caught my attention. It was titled “Mosaïque de Jeanne d’Arc blessée au 15 rue de Richelieu” (Mosaïque of Joan of Arc hurt at 15 rue de Richeleau). This article claimed that at precisely this address in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, Joan was severely injured during the battle of Paris on Thursday the 8th of September 1429.

Let me explain.. After Joan did Charles VII a huge solid by crowning him at Reims (this was significant because there was some controversy over his lineage and his right to ascend the throne. His own mother threw him under the bus and claimed he was a bastard and not the legitimate son of his crazy father King Charles VI. Ouch) Joan had her sights set on liberating Paris, which had been controlled by the English for nearly 9 years.

Joan of Arc at the Coronation of Charles VII in Reims Cathedral by Władysław Bakalowicz

Unfortunately for her, King Charles (thanks to JOA) found his support for Joan weakening. Having gotten his crown and newfound support of the French people (again thanks to JOA for leading all those successful battles!) he just wasn’t motivated to hurry himself along and regain Paris under French rule. So he half-heartedly allowed Joan to take an army into Paris to see what she could do. Things were looking good as she conquered Saint Denis north of Paris and then marched her soldiers towards the western side of Paris at the Porte Saint Honoré (there was the defensive wall of Charles V circling Paris at this time, and these portes/entrance ways were heavily defended. To even have a chance at conquering Paris, Joan and her army needed to infiltrate this entryway), which was protected by a badass moat and ditches. There was even a pig market nearby, but more on that later.

Joan and The Seige of Paris

The battle began poorly; the soldiers just couldn’t manage to get over the GOD DAMN WALL into Paris. They fought fiercely from dawn to dusk when suddenly Joan took a god damn arrow (from a fricken crossbow!) to the thigh. It brought her down but it wasn’t enough to make her give up and call it a day. She screamed for her men to continue, to get over the wall, to continue their assault- but she was forcibly carried from the field as her weary men retreated.

In short, Joan of Arc never actually entered Paris. And you know the rest.. Today in Paris, you can still see testimonials of the 8th of September 1429. At Place des Pyramids, just a few steps from the Louvre at 161 rue Saint Honoré, you can see the face of Joan looking down at you from above.

The inscription below her reads “Here was the Porte Saint Honoré, near to which Joan of Arc was injured in 1429”. There is another larger, grander, golden statue of Joan mounted on a horse nearby between the Louvre and the Jardin des Tuilleries.

But these two markers do not show the EXACT place where Joan was injured. And that is what I was curious to see. Because according to this website, in May of 1987, students from the nearby school Jean Baptiste Poquelin and the mayor of the 1st arrondissement, inaugurated a beautiful Mosaic depicting Joan during her attempt to take Paris near the now long gone Porte Saint Honoré. This was created by the students of the school with the help of their principal and arts teacher.

The Mosaic hidden at 15 rue de Richeleau, image from Montejoye.net

Numerous historians confirmed that this was the actual exact place where Joan was injured based upon eye witness testimony that has been recorded and kept throughout the past 600 years. A significant point between several testimonials was that Joan was injured not at the porte Saint Honoré itself, but rather 100 meters or so off to the side between the pig market and a trench that was at the base of the fortified wall. Check out the pictures of the maps I have for comparison.

The Porte Saint Honoré and the defensive wall that surrounded Paris. The pig market where Joan fell is encirlced.

So off I went to go find this historically significant mosaic, which was situated in the courtyard of an apartment building according to the article. Which brought me my first challenge. GETTING IN! (You need a code to access most Paris buildings that is entered on a keypad next to the door) I waited at the door on the street for about 20 long minutes for someone to either leave or enter with the door code- so that I could get access. Finally the door opened, and I walked in, feeling exhilarated to see this mosaic, this historic moment in time, and the great article I was going to share with you. The only problem was- there was.. nothing. No mosaic! STAY TUNED AND TURNT UP FOR PART 3

Maps, The Louvre and Palais Royal

Here Comes Joannie! Part One

What you are about to read is a retelling of my first major Paris History Mystery and the forgotten Paris landmark that no one seemed to know was missing.. Until me!

It’s a bit of a long tale so I’m cutting it into 4 parts. Today I’m going to introduce you to the woman behind the legend. JOAN.OF.MOTHERFUCKING.ARC! The more I research her, the more intrigued I am to understand this woman, this teenager- who rose from nothing and yet found herself at the head of an army with a king at her shoulder and saints at her back, all before her cruel demise at the age of 19. (What were you doing at 19? I’m pretty sure I was still stealing my parents booze to go get drunk and passout in cornfields with my friends)

What do you know of Joan? In part 1 of this series, I will give you my unique version of her unofficial biography. Let’s go back to Domrémy, France in the year 1412. (608 YEARS AGO MY FRIENDS) Domrémy is in the middle of Buttfuck, France; about 4 hours by car north east of Paris. A girl is born to a farmer and his wife during the time known as the 100 Years War, when England and France brutally fought for control of the Kingdom of France.

We all know medieval wartime Europe was bleak AF, and this was especially true for this region of France, which was just SHIT UPON by the English. Les anglais were big fans of the warfare tactic known as Chevauchée; which basically consisted of PILAGING, BURNING, and RAPING anything and anyone that came into their paths without pity or remorse. The French people were in such dire straights already; the plague had just nearly polished off a whole generation of people and their sovereign, King Charles VI was bat shit bananas. (Or paranoid schizophrenic).

King Charles VI, from the illuminated manuscript of Maître de la Mazarine, 1411

But there had been a prophecy floating around that a savoir, in the form of a virgin in original factory condition, from the borders of Lorraine, (DOMREMY DOMREMY) would save France from the English. Here comes JOANNIE!

Joan claimed to have had her first visions in 1425 in her father’s garden. She said she spoke with 3 angels; Saint Margaret, Saint Catherine, and TOP CHEF BOSS ANGEL Saint Michael, who told her she had been chosen by GOD to drive out the English from France, bring Charles VII (son of looney King Charles VI) to Reims to be crowned, and accompany Jimmy Buffet on backup vocals during his last “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” World Wide Tour before he kicks the bucket. God loves margaritas!

Joan of Arc Under the Guard of Angels, Dom Meunier

Without going into too much detail about her campaign, this peasant girl was able to gather followers, get an audience with the king, convince the king she was the real deal, convince the whole army she was the real deal, and then lead them through varies victories where they did not have the upper hand, all while sporting a really butch lookin’ bob hair cut. To top it all off, she brought Charles VII to Reims and put a crown on his head like the boss bitch that she was.

Depiction at the Domrémy Basilica of the crowning of King Charles VII in the presence of Joan

Unfortunately that was about where she peaked, and despite begging Charlie to follow God/her advice, she lost favor with the king and was eventually sold out to the English who put her on trial for a variety of bullshit charges (one of which was cross dressing). Joan was barely 19 when she was burned at the stake in Rouen, 30 May 1431. Reading about Joan, I found myself wondering how she could have accomplished so much given her limited background.

Let this sink in; Joan was an illiterate peasant girl who grow up on a farm- she had no books or Instagram to put silly ideas into her delicate little female head. Whether she saw angels or not, there was something extraordinary pushing Joan to get to the head of the French army. She learned to fight while wearing armor, ride a horse, command soldiers, and somehow convince an army of men to follow her (forbidding them to swear, be intoxicated, and sleep with hookers) and BELIEVE in her and her mission. She was wounded by a GOD DAMN crossbow during the battle of Les Tourelles and she literally pulled the arrow out of her thigh and WENT BACK TO FIGHT hours later!

Was she guided by angels? I don’t know but I believe 100% that SHE knew herself to be under their influence. In part 2 I’ll talk more about Joan and the Siege of Paris and I’ll reveal what mysterious landmark is hidden behind the door at 15 rue Richelieu in the heart of Paris.. stay tuned!

Here Comes Joannie! Part Two

Discover the secret courtyard that marks the exact location where Joan of Arc was injured during the Siege of Paris

Maps, The Louvre and Palais Royal

18th Century Murder Weapon Boutique

177 Galerie de Valois Palais Royal Paris 75001

Here’s a little detail about The Martyr Murderess Charlotte Corday (you can catch up on her by reading the link below) most normal people probably wouldn’t be interested in. But I am admittedly morbid, (and you are too if you follow this page right?) so when I read that the dagger she used to murder Marat was purchased in one of the little shops surrounding the Palais Royal- of course I had to know which one!

177 Galerie de Valois today, empty

In the galleries surrounding the gardens of the Palais Royal (then known as the Palais de l’Egalité because of strong anti-royal sentiments and such) you can still see this shop where Charlotte bought her murder weapon. It was known in 1793 as a knife shop, Le Coutelier Badin.

Approximate location of the shop where Charlotte purchased the dagger she would use to kill Marat. Turgot map, 1739

According to her testimony, Charlotte purchased the 15cm blade for 40 sous around 8am on July 13, 1793. She then took a carriage to Marat’s home across the river. It took her multiple tries to enter his home that day (both the guardienne of the building and Marat’s companion told her off) but on her 3rd attempt in the evening, she yelled loudly enough for Marat to hear her from his bathroom, insisting she had information for him.

Assassination of Marat, Paul Baudry 1860

And like an 18th century bath ridden Mr. Rodgers, he told her to come on in! The rest is history,.. check out the post below.

Maps, The Louvre and Palais Royal

The Secret Hearts of the Louvre

The Louvre Museum Paris 75001

I’ve got a little archaeology lesson for y’all today, something that I like to think of as my favorite Secret Paris Historical Detail since I learned of it in 2013 during a fieldtrip with my Histoire de l’Architecture Française class.

But first, a little FoUnDaTiOn! If you didn’t already know, there is an entire underground part of the museum dedicated to the foundations of the OG Louvre fortress that predates everything you see today, most of which is fairly recent dating from the 19th century.

Dating the Louvre Museum. The oldest parts are solid black and date from the 16th century. Mostly everything surrounding the pyramid is 19th century.

The Louvre Fortress was built by King Phillipe August II in 1190 and then destroyed during the Renaissance when King Francois I leveled it to begin creating the Louvre that we know today. The tricky thing about destroying fortresses is that they are built to withstand destruction, thus making them very difficult to erase. Fortunately for us, the foundation of the walls still exists and when you enter this part of the museum, you are actual walking in what used to be the moat. (see photo) Simply put, when the fortress was demolished, the walls were taken down and the moat filled in. No one bothered to take down the walls below the ground level. So this area, which today is found under the Cour Carré was just rebuilt upon with what we see today as the Louvre palace.

So my fieldtrip. Back then, I had been a pretentious little shit and I met my classmates that day thinking I had already seen everything there was to see at the Louvre, specifically in the Medieval Louvre section of the museum where we started.

The entrance to the Medieval Louvre in the Sully Section of the Museum

My professor herded all 15 of her students together and brought us to the first section of stone walled foundation, and asked us to tell her what we saw. It only took about 10 seconds for someone to hesitantly exclaim “Are those HEARTS?”

WELL SURE SHIT! There are hearts, like modern day cartoony Valentine’s Day hearts, carved on EVERY.SINGLE.STONE.BLOCK! My jaw dropped. I had never really thought about it, but I would have assumed the classic heart shape to be a relatively modern concept.

The hearts are everywhere but not really visible unless you are looking for them

It isn’t even the shape of a REAL heart after all. You would think something more appropriate for a 13th century shape would be more geometrical wouldn’t you? So what were they doing on 800+ year old fortress foundations? Our professor informed us that medieval stonemasons carved these hearts, and other shapes (marque de tâcheron) directly on their “canvas” for the same reason an artist signs their finished paintings.

marque de tâcheron examples

Each stonemason had a corresponding shape original to them so they couldn’t confuse the work (and bill) of one to another. Another reason was to create old fashioned publicity (I think this particular Stonemason would be very proud to see his work still admired in 2020).

As for me, whenever my foot isn’t in my mouth and I’m at the Louvre, I always take a few minutes to stop by the foundations and ask oblivious visitors (especially those who are already got that exhausted blank stare look that says they’ve already seen 453 pieces of art too many that day) to take a closer look. It never gets old to see their eyes widen in disbelief to see something as undistinguished as a derpy heart carved into each stone block making up the wall right in front of them.

You don’t see this mentioned in many tour guide books and it’s my favorite overlooked Paris detail. Of course everyone runs to see the Mona Lisa and the other Big Shots, but the Louvre Médévial trumps both of those in my opinion. It simply is a testament to the history found here, even if it ceases to exist in its original form.

Have you been to this section of the Louvre yet and seen these hearts, or did I just blow your mind?

Maps, Paris with .. Kids, The Louvre and Palais Royal

Top 5 Butts of the Tuilleries Garden

After the great success of last year’s “Butts of the Louvre”, Paris History of our Streets is proud to present the second series, “Butts of the Tuileries”! So you think this is immature, vulgar, or in poor taste? You may be right, especially about the immature part.

But hear me out!

These statues have been admired for decades and they weren’t created by their sculptors to be appreciated only from the front. Chiseling such a delicately rounded shape in bronze or stone is an admirable skill and should be appreciated from all angles. This post is dedicated strictly to the oft forgotten and underappreciated sculptured derrières of the historic Tuileries Gardens.

Let’s take a moment and honor the diversity of these majestic booties and the talents of their creators!

Number 5 Les Fils de Cain (The Sons of Cain) Paul Landowski, 1906

You know the biblical story right? Cain is the son of Adam and Eve and he had an impressive number of offspring given that human production was still somewhat of a new concept. Here he is in the middle of his sons and each figure represents various strengths. From the right is Jubal and he depicts “thought” which is ironic because he is butt naked and you can’t call thought a strength if you forget to put your own clothes on right? Tubalcain is on the left and as a blacksmith, he represents “work”, which is an unfortunate trade to be wearing assless chaps in. Why Cain is wearing this giant modest cloak while his boys are letting it all hang out; who knows?

Number 4 La Baigneuse aux Bras Levés (The Bather with Raised Arms) Artistide Maillol, 1921

Any other ladies out there put their messy buns together in the buff? The curve of this bather’s hips against the juxtaposition of her pointy elbows is elegant and flattering. I bet she’s a cheeky lady who “accidently” lets her undergarments fall off in front of the open window as she coyly steps into her steaming bath. The eye seems to float over her, admiring her sleekness with only the brief disruption of her butt crack.

Number 3 Cain Venant de Tuer son Frère Abel (Cain Just Killed his Brother Abel) Henri Vidal, 1896

Here we are back to Cain again, only this time he’s ditched his cloak and he’s wandering around son-less and broken with his head in his hand. Of course he’s in the buff. He’s probably regretting killing his bro Abel, which is kind of a big deal when you’re left with the legacy as the World’s First Murderer responsible for the First Human Death. As the third human on earth, he could have been known for so many things, First Person to Tell a Joke, First Person to Whistle, even First Person to Shart- but he’ll forever be known as the First Guy to Slay his Brother. (He also had the first incestuous relationship with his sister but we can’t hold that against him given the lack of available partners at the time) At least we can all agree that he had a damn good-looking ass. Chances are favorable that he might have had the world’s sexiest heinie at some time, there wasn’t much competition, especially if you’ve killed 25% of your potential rivals. You could bounce a stone off those gluts, then blame it for killing your brother as its projected towards his head.

NUMBER 2 Rivière Artistide Maillol, 1943

Well shit. This is embarrassing. I’ve fallen, and I’m naked. Everyone can see my butt and it’s not like I can claim to be into nude breakdancing. This is so awkward. Could you just divert your eyes to the Eiffel Tower over there while I try to gather what’s left of my dignity?

THE NUMBER ONE ASS OF THE TUILERIES GARDENS

Alexandre Combattant (Alexander in Combat), Charles Leboeuf, 1836

Let’s get right to it. Testicles. Ballocks. Deez Nutz. Chin Warmers. I want to admire those defined shoulders and the muscular triceps, but my eye just keeps coming back to naughty bits. It must be cold outside. We are one missing hand away from having the first Sculptured Fruit bowl.

HONORABLE ASS-MENTION

Faune au Chevreau d’après l’antique Paul Le Pautre, 1698

This is a Basic Ass; the Rear of the People. It’s defined with a commendable under butt crease. And that cute little tuff! Oh my heart, I love it and want to run my fingers through it. I bet he giggles and demurely slaps your hand away saying “Oh you’re so naughty!” if you tug it. I don’t know what this guy is doing frolicking around naked with a goat wrapped around his shoulders but I dig it.

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