Art Deco architecture, Tour d’Argent and St Genevieve

Art Deco Architecture is one of my favourites. I love Art Nouveau too as you already know, but I think Art Deco tops the list anyway.

Art Deco architecture, Tour d’Argent and St Genevieve

Tour d’Argent is a famous restaurant. Let’s be honest we’ve never been there. I suspect only millionnaires go there and I’m not yet part of that lot. No doubt I’m working very hard but I have no particularly wish to be one of them.

Anyway, Tour d’Argent is on my way home when I cycle from the right (North) bank to my place on the left (South) bank and this is why I thought it was worth a picture.

I’m not particularly in love with snobbishly expensive food (especially overpriced pressed duck) but I have a liking for architecture and especially Art Deco architecture. I might have to yield to the wife’s pressure though and take her there for a meal when restaurants are once again free to open their doors.

Art Deco architecture
Art Deco architecture: Tour d’Argent

I love Art Deco as it’s the perfect mix between Art nouveau creativity and floral or geometric ornementations and modern architecture based on pure lines and volume. It’s pleasant and zen and decorative at the same time. The best of both worlds in a nutshell. One can catch a glimpse of a statue on the left, I will come back to that in a bit.

La Tour d’Argent

The history of la Tour d’Argent is a bit muddy. It claims to be one of the oldest restaurants in the City (supposedly founded in 1582 even though there is no evidence this place was anything but a slimy footpath along the banks of the river, hence the muddy character of that story. Read the French version of Wikipedia which is much better documented).

The Art Deco building wasn’t erected in 1582 as you may have guessed.

Art Deco architecture

As it happens, right opposite the Tour d’Argent is another 1930s beauty, Paul Landowksi‘s statue of St Genevieve, the patron Saint of Paris. Landowski is a French sculptor from Polish descent. He is better known for Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, which I also had a chance to admire. St Genevieve is supposed to have saved Paris from its many invaders (Vikings namely, kept ransacking and ransoming the City in the early Middle Ages).

Saint Genevieve protecting Paris from the “barbarians”

As I was searching for information on Genevieve and her protecting the City from those “Barbarians” (as a matter of fact they probably weren’t any more barbarians than those they were ransoming but you know how History is reconstructed) I stumbled upon this weird message from the Canadian Bishops to the then Archbishop of Paris, André XXIII.

Bishop Crosby recalls that Saint Genevieve (419-512) saved Paris from invaders.

Bishop Douglas Crosby, Bishop of Hamilton and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), sent a letter of condolences and prayers to Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, on 16 November 2015, following the terrorist attacks that plunged Paris into mourning on 13 November, leaving 129 people dead and 352 injured (195 still in hospital, 41 in intensive care and 3 between life and death).

“May the patron saints of Paris – Genevieve, whose courage and prayer are said to have saved the city from invaders, and Denis, its first bishop and a martyr renowned for the strength of his word – intercede for the City of Light in this hour of darkness and bring its citizens the comfort of hope and healing,” the Canadian archbishop writes.

A pinch of salt

I’m not sure the attackers of November 2015 were invaders at all. To an extent it doesn’t even matter and that won’t change anything to the result. Symbols like St Genevieve should be taken with a pinch of salt. Her history was only written 18 years after her death and there is absolutely no guarantee that anything in there is true at all.

At any rate, this is an interesting statue and work of Art.

Art Deco architecture
As I was praising Art Deco Architecture, I failed to add something. The building was bought by the landlord of Tour d’Argent in the 1920s. Additions to that building were made until the late 1930s. The picture above was taken from under the awning of the hotel of the same name. Obviously, both restaurant and hotel are closed at the moment. I did commit a petty crime here. I had to touch up the photo and do away with a more contemporary light detecting unit on the lamp post. Maybe a subject for further discussions on this blog.
Yann Gourvennec
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