Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oct 14, Part 12 - Rue des Arenes and Square Capitan, Paris

Coming out of the short passageway from the arena, you can go straight up the Rue de Navarre or turn left on the Rue des Arenes. Left is the scenic route.

There is a small hill that creates the mound into which the arena is built, and the Rue des Arenes skirts this hill. On the left is the Rue des Arenes.

A path leads up onto the higher side of the arena (the east side), with its attractive and peaceful park. A little past the woman with the kids you can look left into the arena again. If you take the path straight past the sculpture, you'll come to the public bathroom (which is always a helpful thing to know about).

The dark square in the flat-looking structure on the right is the large opening above the smaller passageway where we had entered the arena. We turned to our right when we entered and sat for awhile on a park bench.

The upper level here was also good for sitting.

Going east again over the rise from the park is Square Capitan, now an attractive children's playground and a garden built in what was at one time a reservoir. The name "Capitan" comes from Jean-Louis Capitan, who helped excavate and restore the arena.

Needless to say, the square is exceptionally beautiful. It's also probably a bit off the beaten path for most tourists since there were no huge tourist attractions that would be most expediently reached by this route, so most of the people there were Parisian folks just enjoying a nice day outdoors.

Leaving Square Capitan, we were back on the Rue des Arenes. Above is a plaque that meant nothing to me at the time I took the photo, but I thought I would look up the name later. This was the home of Jean Paulhan from 1840 until his death in 1968. He was a writer, publisher, and literary critic who had a tremendous influence on French literature. But his lover will be remembered by more people than he will. It seems that Jean Paulhan, a fan of the Marquis de Sade, suggested to his lover, Anne Desclos, that a woman was incapable of writing an erotic novel along the lines of de Sade. To prove him wrong, she did. She used the pen name Pauline Réage, and her true identity as the author was not made public until 40 years after the original publication. She wrote it in a series of letters to Paulhan, who then wrote an introduction to the story, praising it but not letting on that he knew the identity of the author. The book was the now-classic Story of O. You never know what you'll find when you wander down a street in Paris!

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