On a February Friday, intrepid sightseers met under the Battling Angels in the Latin Quarter of Paris. In Antiquity, some deities, like Nike and the Winged Victory of Samothrace had wings. We set out, however, to learn about the modern angels, decorating Paris since the twelfth century, and their meanings on a walk with Rosemary Flannery.
In Paris, winged cherubs and figures decorate the arches of Notre-Dame, blow trumpets from the Sainte-Chapelle, wrap their arms around a lightening rod on the Théâtre du Châtelet, hover over Saint Anne’s door at Notre-Dame. Others mischievously pose around the seal of Paris across from Hôtel de Ville.
During a two-hour walking tour with Rosemary, author of Angels of Paris: An Architectural Tour through the History of Paris, we touched only the top of the angel cake. Full of architectural and Parisian history, each sculpture on the tour has a fascinating tale of double meanings to tell. We could not physically cover all of the stories from her book in one tour. The tour begins at the Saint-Michel fountain and ends at Notre-Dame de Paris, following a course along the edges of the sixth, first and fourth arrondissements.
Rosemary told us the tales you find in her book. What better way to hear the tales but from the mouth of the author herself. She has books for purchase after the tour to reference the sights. If all of the details escape you or you miss some of the names or dates, the stories on the page remind you of the tour.
When we began our walk, Rosemary told us about the origins of angels and why the battling angels are there and not Napoléon Bonaparte. Rosemary shed light on the origination of the fleur-de-lys, which I shall not give away. Ask her yourself when you study the Executioner’s Angel on the Hôtel de Laffémas and look in the hand of Justice.
This tour is the first of upcoming Angels of Paris walking tours. Find out more information and contact Rosemary on the Angels of Paris website or Rosemary’s Passport to Paris website. Read reviews of her tours on TripAdvisor (Passport to Paris Tours).
Be prepared to walk and you will have time to talk to photos. And even if the sky is grey, angels still have their own special shine.