If the items were really as its name, Tombées du Camion, (items fallen from the back of a truck) suggests, this little shop in Montmartre would never have lasted as long as it has. Tucked away in a forgotten passageway, between chic fashion and the questionable Pigalle area, is found one of the most interesting assortments of salvaged and found items in Paris.
A temporary resting place for unwanted and unclaimed curiosities, Tombées du Camion is like a museum of the odd, all squeezed into under 200 square feet. Everything in excess, from doll parts to police whistles and pill containers on display in wooden crates will hold you in it’s spell. There are French porno banners from the 1970s, rusted mortuary plaques (probably pried from old burial sites), and unused flasks of an opium cure for diarrhea. Most of these items are made in France, and every object has a story.
Much of the stock has been salvaged from attics and corners of old factories in random locations around France, often left after their usefulness seemed to have passed.
Originally built as a public bathhouse in the 19th century, Les Bains-Douches would eventually be reborn as one of the hottest night clubs in Paris known simply as Les Bains, a destination for celebrities including Mick Jagger, Johnny Depp and Andy Warhol.
After some second rate re-construction in 2010, the building was closed down and considered a safety hazard. Buildings in France are rarely torn down, so it will however be gutted and be completely rebuilt on the interior. The owner Jean-Pierre Marois, turned the building over to 50 street artists who have been working since January to turn the building into an extensive display of artwork.
Unfortunately the former nightclub is closed to the public, but photographers were allowed in to shoot many of the artworks in progress. Shown here is just a small selection, go to Les Bains “One Day One Artist” to see more of what was captured.
Absinthe with it’s natural green color has been referred to as the Green Fairy. This anise-flavoured spirit is made from the flowers and leaves of wormwood, green anise, sweet fennel and other herbs, and because of it’s high alcohol level is normally diluted with water. With a slightly bitter taste, it is often poured into a glass of water over a sugar cube on a perforated spoon, some of which were elaborately designed for this purpose.
Absinthe was said to be both a narcotic and an aphrodisiac. It was adopted by the bohemian Parisian culture of authors and artists who claimed that it stimulated creativity. Absinthe’s legends caused it to be banned in most of Europe and North America. It took nearly a century before it’s reputation could be restored. In 1988, France lifted its ban on absinthe, but it wasn’t marketed under its real name again until 1998. Studies have proven that the ingredients have never been hallucinogenic, but it’s effects were due to the fact that it is 140 proof. Absinthe doesn’t come cheap, priced at about seventy dollars a bottle. Absinthe’s long past is the stuff of legend whether true or not.
Goussainville-Vieux Pays was at one time a quiet little farming village, 12.5 miles from Paris. In the center is a historic renaissance church. By the 1970s, this once quiet suburban towns ambience took an irreversable turn.
Unfortunately for the town, it was under the direct flightpath of the new Charles de Gaulle Airport. They were now so close to the country’s largest airport in Roissy that the noise from the planes became intolerable. Residents of the village saw their neighbors and friends abandon their homes one after another.
The airport authorities, responsible for almost 150 properties in the village being deserted, were required to buy the abandoned houses as well as look after them. It had not been taken into account that the Renaissance church, Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul was recorded as an historic monument. Not having the option to demolish the buildings, they were walled up and left to decay. Even the 14th century church began to deteriorate so badly that in 2010, years after abandonment, local authorities finally agreed to begin efforts to restore it.
An apartment left untouched for over 70 years was discovered in Paris a few summers ago. Time to unlock the vault …
The owner of this apartment, Mrs. De Florian, left Paris just before the outbreak of World War II. She closed up and shuttered her home and left for the South of France, never to return. Seventy years later she died at the age of 91. It was only when her heirs hired professionals to make an inventory of the Parisian apartment she left behind, that this time capsule was finally opened.
Inside the apartment was found a painting of a beautiful woman in a pink gown. One of the inventory team members suspected this might be a very important piece. Along with the painting, they also found stacks of old love letters tied with colored ribbon.
With some expert historical opinion, the love letters were recognized as the calling card of none other than Giovanni Boldini, one of Paris’ most important painters of the Belle Époque. The painting was his. The beautiful woman pictured in the painting was Mrs. de Florian’s grand-mother, Marthe de Florian, a beautiful French actress and socialite of the Belle Époque. She was Boldini’s muse. And, despite him being a married man, she was also his lover.
What kept her away even after the war? For all those years, her rent on the apartment in a flourishing city had been paid, but it was left frozen in time. It all sounds like the perfect mystery.