One of my favourite things to do when visiting a city is to spend some time wandering the streets, soaking in the ambience and looking out for interesting buildings and other features. Virginia Woolf, who liked to wander around central London, called this “street haunting” and in Paris, a city particularly suited for this activity, there’s a term used to describe those who indulge in it – the “Flaneur”.
While exploring the Left Bank, strolling between the Eiffel Tower and the École Militaire, I spotted an interesting Art Nouveau style building on Avenue Rapp.
Now, Art Nouveau isn’t exactly well known for being restrained with respect to it’s decorative features. And this building was one of the least restrained examples of the style that I’ve seen – and I’ve seen plenty!
A little research after we returned home revealed that the building was designed by French architect Jules Aimé Lavirotte and was built in1900/01. His name appears on the all to the right f the door.
It has an incredibly ornate door and door frame, the latter designed by the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Larrive. A mass of whiplash curves and plant like forms with the head of a woman (probably based on the architect’s wife) flanked by statues of Adam and Eve.
The door design is based on a particular male organ while the door handles are in the form of lizards (lézards) which is, apparently, an old French slang term used to describe male genitalia. Not very subtle then!
As well as the plant-like structures and human figures there are animals including bulls’ heads and turtles supporting the balconies