Saturday, May 7, 2016

Paris: Day Two: -- The Marais Month of May

Michael Osman shows us the prison where they held Marie Antoinette and friends, including Princess Maria Teresa of Savoy. According to urban legend, the jailers told Princess Maria, "You're free to go." After she hit the street, the mob ripped her to pieces. Then they paraded her head (and maybe other bits) in front of Marie Antoinette's window.

We check out the Rue des Rosiers and Place de la Bastille

We hit a swell-looking square called Place des Vosges. (Actually more of a rectangle, but I won't quibble.)  King Henri IV laid it out and surrounded it with upscale townhouses. (Fake brickwork. Reminds me of Sarasota.)

Fun historical tidbit: King Henri IV is the French king who said "Be nice to Protestants, iot's the law": in the Edict of Nantes. In contrast to the sumbitch "Sun King" Louis XIV, who revoked the edict in 1749. (Which led to open season on Protestants. The usual stakebuirnings you'd expect. The French nobility also sewed up protestants in giant bird suits and hunted them for sport, as seen in Ken Russell's "The Devils.") Not my favorite French king. but King Henri IV is all right.

Michael's impressed I know this stuff.

He shows us the digs where Cardinal Richelieu and Victor Hugo used to live. Chez Hugo is a museum now. They've fixed it up, but they had to wait. An old lady occupied much of the ground floor for years until she died. Squatters rights and all that. Welcome to France.  

He shows us fragments of Paris' old city wall, Says the Scumking's hangers on left town and hung out at Versailles, and pretty much left their upscale houses to rot. Years of neglect, most got bulldozed in recent urban renewal, a few spiffed up. Fragments of Marais' Jewish heritage, too. Faded Hebrew lettering. A temple the Nazis gutted, now restored. Mementos of the Chez Jo Goldenberg restaurant bombing -- a plaque and a pock-marked wall. We walk by the Shoah museum, but don't go in. Here's what we didn't see.

Yep, it looks exactly like that. A wall of names, a moving place. The simplicity of a stone on a grave. So I'm told.

A few rabbis stroll by, the temple is back in biz and there's a deli here and there. But it's mostly fallafel shops and e-cigarettes. Gentrification accomplished what the Nazis and Abu Nidal couldn't.

As a matter of fact, you do have to live like a refugee.

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