The Gilded Monuments of Paris are easy to see while visiting the City of Lights, however, finding their proper names is a far more difficult task. It’s taken several hours of research to find the proper names for these exquisite works of art, that I so easily photographed while visiting in 2011. The good news is what I’ve learned while doing research.
The Royal Gate, which stands at the entrance to the cour d’honneur at Versailles, was replaced in 2008. At a price of 4 million British Pounds (about 7 million US Dollars), this replica took two years to recreate. Weighing 15-tons, it took a plethora of historians and top craftsmen to recreate Jules Hardouin-Mansarts original masterpiece from 1680 that was destroyed during the French Revolution.
Louis XIV (the 14th) who resided at the Palace of Versailles, was known as the Sun King. If you’ll take a closer look at the clock presiding over the cour d’ honneur, you’ll notice what looks like a face, framed by the sun. This was a reference to Louis XIV. Known as the Mask of Apollo, this clock marked the rhythm of the time with 3 bells that weighed from 209 pounds to over 2500 pounds. The bronze and embossed copper were regilded in 1999, with a newly approved ‘Royal Blue’ background approved by Versailles archives.
Les Invalides, officially known as L ‘Hotel national des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids) contains museums and monuments relating to the military history of France. The most famous detail about this building is who’s buried there. Napoleon Bonaparte, known as Napoleon I, was the Emperor of the French from 1804-14, and again in 1815. Napoleon died 6 years later of ‘stomach cancer’ while in exile. In 1840 his remains were moved to Les Invalides and encased in a tomb sculpted from blocks of red quartzite, in an open rotunda about 2 stories below street level. Therefore, when you walk into Les Invalides and look down over the railing… you’re quite literally bowing down to Napoleon in death.
The Palais Garnier, or Paris Opera House, was built by Charles Garnier during the Second Empire (1861-75). World famous for it’s opulence, this monumental structure is considered ‘typical’ Beaux-Arts. The gilded figure La Poesie (Poetry) sits atop the right Pavillion of the Opera House, and is matched by L’Harmonie (Harmony) on the left. Both are made of gilt copper electrotype.
And lastly, those gorgeous gilded statues known as “Fames” on Pont Alexandre III. Besides looking stunning, they’re very important stabilizing counterweights that support the bridges arch, without interfering with the views. There’s a total of 4, one for each corner, and they sit atop massive masonry socles. Watch the video below to learn more about this elegant bridge.