Yesterday morning started with blue skies and sunshine but by midday it was a different picture! We headed to the Palais de Chaillot near the Eiffel Tower to visit the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine.
The wonderful permanent exhibitions here allow you to explore 1000 years of the rich architectural heritage of France through life sized replicas of sites such as the doorway of the Chartres Cathedrale and modern day designs. There are also replicas of murals and famous stained glass windows. It really is fantastic to be so close to these replicas and to be able to really study them. There are also plenty of hands on activities for children which we as adults also found fun.
Another reason we headed here was to see the temporary exhibition ‘Viollet-le-Duc, Archéologue Visionner Exposition which is showing in celebration of the 20th anniversary of his birth. He has been an influence on our recent discoveries (Château de Pierrefonds, next post!) and we were keen to learn more of this amazing creator.
Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, born in 1814, was a French architect and theorist whom was responsible for the restorations of many buildings. Here is the list of his well known projects :
Basilica of Vézelay
Nôtre Dame de Paris
Basilica Saint Denis
Château de Pierrefonds
Fortified city of Carcassonne
Château de Vincennes Paris
He didn’t just restore these sites, he added his touch of romanticism and fantasy to them as well.
The restoration program at Nôtre Dame de Paris began in 1845 by Viollet-le-Duc and fellow architect Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and took 25 years to complete. Viollet-le-Duc added the chimeras (gargoyles) to the Galerie des Chimères, which you would recognise from photos of Nôtre Dame. He also added the flèche (spire) to the outside middle and added his own special touch – himself! On the spire you will see copper statues of the Twelve Apostles looking outwards at Paris. Viollet-le-Duc represented himself as Saint Thomas but he’s looking inwards and up at his great restoration achievement!
This temporary exhibition is showing until the 9th of March 2015.