Last Friday Edouard took the afternoon off from work to use up some of his extra vacation time (SO French, right?). Being the great guy that he is, he brought me to see an exposition that we’d heard about at Hotel de Ville. The expo is called “Paris Magnum” and, as explained in the tagline, it features photos of “the capital as seen by the greatest photojournalists.”
It’s open to the public Monday-Saturday from 10am – 6:30pm at métro Hôtel de Ville until April 21st 2015 and it’s absolutely FREE!
When you exit the metro at Hotel de Ville, there are signs indicating the way to the expo entrance :
Basically, it’s just around the back of the building…
Unfortunately, since there is no entrance fee there is also a pretty long line. Our wait wasn’t too bad (10-15 minutes?) but I’m sure it’s terrible on the Saturdays. Not fun when it’s friggen freezing outside.
Once you get in, the exposition is spread out over 5 different rows of photos on 2 different levels. The photos show Paris from 1932 to current day and give you a great idea of how life in Paris has changed over the years.
My favorite photo from the exposition was by Bruno Barbey showing the Latin Quarter the morning after a student riot back in 1968:
What I love about this photo is that you can see how the students have torn up all the cobblestones from the street. The whole entire street has been destroyed! Can you imagine? That must have taken a lot of physical effort to rip the stones free from the dirt like that.
Apparently they did this to make barricades and to use the stones as weapons to throw at cops. If you’re like me and didn’t really understand what the 1968 student riots were all about, Wikipedia has a great article about it here: “May 1968 events in France.”
Edouard’s uncle had mentioned it a few times, saying that the only reason why he graduated was because the administration just went ahead and gave all the students their degree that year to avoid problems (not sure if it’s true but it makes for a funny story when he tells it). From what I got from Wikipedia, the student riots were basically all caused by a snowball effect. It started with students at the University of Nanterre holding a meeting because they were unhappy with French society. The university’s administration didn’t like this so they called the police and even went as far as closing the university down. This pissed of students at La Sorbonne, who decided to protest. Police were sent to La Sorbonne and this pissed everyone else off even more. The students and teachers marched, police tried to stop them, and total chaos ensued. But again – read the Wiki article to get the details… They explain it much better than me 😉
Besides this photo, there were many more that I really loved. The only thing that I didn’t like was that most of the current photos are projected on to big screens so they aren’t easy to see.
Other than that though, it was a great exposition and if you have time I highly suggest you check it out 🙂