Parisian Life

Paris’ madcap projects

So he could go quickly from one point to another Jules Seguin had no intention of demolishing the streets, but to fly over them. He gave considerable thought to a means of connecting Porte de la Muette to Place de la Concorde… by hot-air balloon! The Montgolfier would be “guided” by poles spaced 100m apart. Each flight would carry 250 passengers and there would have been 14 flights a day, lasting between 8 and 18 minutes. According to his calculations, Seguin reckoned on transporting 600 000 people a year… The number 63 bus has handled this with aplomb ever since…

The gentleman known as Girard had a plan that was even more off the wall! He dreamed up an aquatic metro, that would travel through water, surrounded by maritime flora and fauna, made up of an aquarium, a water tank, and a swimming pool!

The World’s Fairs that Paris hosted were often an excuse for a little happy madness. Before the construction of the Eiffel Tower had been decided upon, Bourdais, architect of the first Trocadéro, dreamed of a “Sun Tower” 300m high, topped with a lighthouse that could light up each and every corner of the Capital. Others suggested a “Sprinkler Tower” in case there was a heat wave.

And finally, the French Government imagined a rebuttal from Paris intended to con the Germans in 1917 (see article Faux Paris).

In the Pantheon of all this clowning around, a very serious National Committee for the Reconstruction of the Tuileries has, since 2002, campaigned that the Palace des Tuileries – burnt down in the upheaval of the Paris Commune in 1871 – rise like a phoenix.

It elaborates “to complete the indivisible whole that is the Louvre-Tuileries by the reconstruction of some 20,000m2 of adjoining reception rooms, conference rooms, and a Tuileries museum, thus creating a centre for conferences and prestigious events, which is currently lacking in Paris.” No less! To this resurrection, they have come to attach moral and security grounds, like, for example:  “to reclaim 2.5 hectares of forecourt at a place where the thickets are a weak spot at the heart of the capital, with potential for child-snatching, illicit encounters, and drug sales.” To top it all off, financed by significant international patronage and with broad support from the French public and internationally, this wholly private enterprise’s coffers shouldn’t exceed more than a measly €350 million…