Sunday, March 28, 2010

Walk 3: A Walk in the Park: Montparnasse and the Jardin du Luxembourg

I probably should have saved this walk for April. I don't know if I've made it clear, but winter in Paris is miserable, weather-wise. SO FREAKING COLD. That whiny-ness out of the way, this was a refreshingly simple walk, without too much history for me to botch.

This is a statue of Alfred Dreyfus.

We don't know what the deal with the balloon was, but it bothered Chelsea. So she removed it.

Dreyfus was a Jewish army captain falsely accused of sharing military secrets in 1894. Based on evidence from a forged note, he was convicted of treason, forced from his position, and exiled. France has a pretty solid history of religious discrimination, and the Dreyfus Affair, as it came to be known, happened at a time when an influx of Jewish immigration in Paris was spawning antisemitism. It took over ten years for the state to admit its mistake and bring Dreyfus back from exile. The affair, in the meantime, had caused a national crisis that culminated in Emile Zola's inflammatory article, J'accuse. The issue provoked a division in the country, as Dreyfus symbolized, according to historian Alistair Horne, "either the eternal Jewish traitor or the denial of justice." Nationalism vs. Humanism. Tough call. This statue was supposed to be on display at the École Militaire, where the original injustice against Dreyfus was committed, but the French are still touchy about l'affaire, and have instead hidden it away, where only people on this walk will find it.

On to the Jardin du Luxembourg. It's much prettier now that there are kids running around and the trees are in bloom, but you get the idea:

The Orangerie, where orange trees and other plants have been housed since the mid-19th century, and where, as a nice old man in a checkered hat explained to us, an art exhibition had taken place the week before. Just missed it!

Pond in front of the Palais du Luxembourg. Again, I went back this week, and it's so much nicer now that the fountains are flowing, birds are chirping, and it's warm enough to want to stay.

Woman feeding the ducks on the frozen water of the Fontaine Médicis.

C'est tout!

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