La Place Saint Georges

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La Place Saint Georges is a pleasant “square” which was at the end of the road where we were staying in South Pigalle (9e arrondissement) during our recent break in Paris. Our nearest Metro station was located there.

There are two large houses facing each other across the Place. The large neo-Classical house at No. 22 is the Hôtel Thiers which had been build for one Alexis Dosne who laer sold it to Adolphe Thiers when the latter married his daughter. Thiers was an opposition leader during the Second Empire of Napoleon III and became Prime Minister after the Franco-Prussian War when Louis Napoleon was deposed. He ordered the brutal suppression of the Paris Commune of 1871, so is not exactly one of my favourite characters from history. The building was destroyed during the Commune, but was rebuilt in 1873. It was bequeathed to the Institute de France in 1905 by Felicie Dosne,  Thiers’ sister-in-law, and today it houses the Fondation Dosne-Thiers, a specialist library.

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Facing it, at No. 28, is the neo-Renaissance style Hôtel de la marquise de Païva created in 1940 by the  Edouard Renaud for the Polish-Russian the courtesan Esther Lachmann, better known as La Païva. It was later used as the HQ of the Paris Gas Company (An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb ).The building is decorated with cherubs, lions, Gothic and Renaissance style statues. She later had an even more sumptuous residence built for her on on the Champs-Élysées.

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The other main building houses a typical Parisian cafe, A La Place Saint Georges.A pleasant spot to while away some time people watching. They serve food too, which was good value but the service was slow and the staff not particularly attentive – stereotypical Parisian waiters in fact!

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The statue in the centre of the Place is of the artist, Paul Gavarni, who was known for his caricatures of Parisian  Society, the theatre and le Carnaval de Paris. The base is decorated with theatrical characters, including Pierrot. The area is a Theatrical district – the Theatre Saint Georges was just off the square and there were two other theatres at the bottom of rue la Bruyère.

Someone had tied a black blindfold on the statue. There must be some significance of this, probably a protest, but I wasn’t able to find out what this was.

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The statue was erected in 1911 and replaces a fountain, used for watering horses, which had dried up when the Metro was constructed.

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(Picture source here)

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