Jardins des Champs Elysées

Jardins des Champs Elysées (11)

Initially, these gardens were created so that the king had a good view from the Tulleries. Later, in the same area, the people gathered to watch the patriotic beheadings of the French Revolution.

Eventually, in 1838 it was Jacques Hittorff who designed the Place de la Concorde and the Jardins des Champs Elysées more or less as we know them today. With his project, the gardens were illuminated with pretty candelabras, seven spectacular fountains were added and new, modern buildings were built. Today, only the Ledoyen and Laurent pavilions survive. The gardens were so attractive even then that they were the centre for the Universal Exhibition of 1855.

It was shortly after when the public that had moved to the Grands Boulevards returned to these gardens which once again provided a more varied choice of leisure with circuses, panoramas, georamas, cafés and theatres. Much better, of course, than going to see heads roll. In the now extinct Cirque d’Eté, Hector Berlioz conducted concerts. Offenbach was concerned with Parisian comic opera. It was a period in which the Parisians were able to dedicate their time to leisure.

In 1859 the French engineer Jean Charles Alphand returned to restructure the gardens, according to the commission of Hausman. His work in this period was so brilliant that he would end up directing the Universal Exhibition of Paris of 1889.

Just here was one of the great panoramas of Paris, known as the Panorama Hittorff, which entertained the public from 1894. Later, the same space came to be Le Palais des Glaces, the ice palace, a skating rink for the Parisians. And from 1891, it became what is today the Théatre du Rond-Point. Also in the late 19th century, in 1880, another big concert hall was built: the current Théatre Marigny, work of the same author of the Opéra de París.

At the beginning of the 20th century the café-concerts were all the rage: Guilbert, Chevalier and other musicians filled the Embassadors Pavilion, today the Espace Cardin, built in 1931, the newest of these buildings.

Wander quietly around these gardens and try to recall the effervescence of society at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. If you try hard, you will surely be able to hear a musical piece from the time and the murmur of the public. 

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