National Geographic : 1972 Jul
Germain. Artisans swarmed into Le Marais and honeycombed the graceful buildings with dingy little workshops and hovels. Now, however, there is a program to re store and preserve the traditional architec tural aspect of Le Marais and to create better living conditions for its residents. The suc cess of this project depends largely on the Association for the Protection and Improve ment of Historic Paris. At the Association's headquarters in a house in Le Marais with a cryptlike cellar that dates from 1240, I was welcomed by Miss Paris-Mlle Marie-Therese Paris, that is, the administrative secretary. "This building was a large and substantial home," she said, "but about 250 years ago it was divided into three tenements. By our own century, the house was a ruin. It would have come down had not the Municipal Council given it to the Association. Now we have many others in Le Marais, old houses we are converting to living quarters again. We will save, we hope, a little bit of old Paris." City's Heart Reshaped by a Bold Prefect Certainly the oldest and one of the truest things said about Paris is that the more it changes, the more it is the same. Yet the look we know, that of the grand boulevard and the sweeping vista, dates from only a century ago, when Baron Georges Haussmann, Pre fect of the Seine, got fed up with quaintly jumbled districts and little streets. He oblit erated entire neighborhoods to lay out his avenues and execute his heroic plan (map, pages 69-71). He also had an ulterior motive -to open broad lines of fire for his troops, and roads to transport them quickly. He wanted no more revolutions like that of 1848. On guard against a different kind of revo lution stands the Academie Francaise, that awesome literary society created in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu to work toward the purity of the language, to establish a sure usage of words. Its mission remains much (Continued on page 102) A life of triumph, a tomb of splendor: Napoleon Bonaparte lies in a red porphyry sarcophagus before 12 statues representing his major victories. Visitors line the balcony ringing the emperor's crypt at the Hotel des Invalides, once home to some 7,000 retired soldiers. Sound-and-light show in the Inva lides courtyard (right)recounts the nation's military heritage.