Place : Paris - Boulogne- Billancourt
Date: - Wednesday Oct. 30th /2019
The recommended Albert Khan Gardens at Boulogne- Billancourt suburban neighborhood motivated us to take the 50 minutes Metro ride from Paris center to off at "Point de Saint Cloud" station - at the western side of Paris.
One of the wealthiest community and densely populated Western Suburbs, 8 km from the center of Paris,
Formerly an important industrial site, it has successfully re-converted into business services and is now home to major communication companies headquarters.
Albert-Kahn, musée et jardins départementaux -
10-14 rue du Port - 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt
The museum is under renovations so we enjoyed only the
Japanese, English and French gardens, which represent symbolism, are "peace in the world". Flowers, shrubs, pine and fruit trees, as well as running water streams and carp fish pools, curved into the green landscape, also beautiful menagerie and other garden structures (Japanese village - a tea pavilion and a pagoda)
all form together a romantic decor, around the adjacent museum building, named after Albert Kahn- the original owner of this enchanting premises, purchased by him in 1883.
Albert Kahn (1860-1940) was an eldest of 4 children of Louis Kahn, a Jewish cattle dealer and Babette Kahn -an uneducated home bound mother, from the French Alsace-Lorraine area.
Albert is remembered for being a French banker, philanthropist, a nature, peace, and photography lover, who believed in comradeship among all people and nations on Earth. He was well known for:
1. his important collection of the color photography made on glass plates and named the "Archives of the Planet" ,
2. for the beautiful and unique garden he created on his large property, 3. for promoting higher education through travelling scholarships.
His estate became a meeting place for French and European intelligentsia (making friends with Auguste Rodin and Mathurin Méheut) until the 1930 Wall Street financial crash.
After the collapse of his bank in 1932 due to the crash, his property was seized along with his photography collection of early colour photographs that he commissioned, sending photographers out throughout the world. The collection is now on display at the museum,
spanning 22 years, it resulted in 72,000 colour photographs and 183,000 meters of film.
The Great Depression crisis ruined Kahn and put an end to his projects. He died during the Nazi occupation of France .
His garden was turned in 1937 into a public park devoted to walking and contemplation, and in 1968, the Albert Kahn Museum dedicated to the "Archives of the Plane" ,was opened.
As with many sites when relevant, there is no mention of his Jewish background ,not at the garden premises nor at any write up about his history.
Although we had plans to visit another near-by park by the Seine river, the unfriendly cold weather deterred us from taking the 20 minutes walk there, but we did take a glance at the river view from the busy
Pont de Saint-Cloud -Bridge which is constructed of metal and crosses the Seine from Boulogne-Billancourt to Saint-Cloud -another suburban community.
The river is very wide there, busy with traffic, and along its banks many boat-houses with quaint small gardens are parked.
2 other near by parks
*Domaine National de Saint Cloud - By the Seine river (which we gave up on)
The château long gone, and grounds were created in the 16th century and embellished by Monsieur, the brother of Louis XIV, and his architects Le Pautre and Hardouin-Mansart. Queen Marie-Antoinette carried out further modifications. In the 19th century it was the royal summer residence, but the château burnt down in 1870. The remaining parts of the building were razed in 1891, as it was too intimately linked with the monarchy and the Empire.
Created in 1775 it is also on the west side of Paris. It is one of the four parks which together make up the Botanical gardens of Paris.
Instead of wondering in the cold of the streets, we found a warmer refuge, inside this recommended museum, dedicated to the 30th
Musee des Annees 30 - Art Deco Treasures
Espace Landowski, 28 Avenue André Morizet,
As we are suckers for Art Déco designs, we appreciated visiting this
small but interesting period collection of artistic decor and objects from the 1930s. Some 800 modernist sculptures, graphic designs, 2,000 paintings and furniture, as well as decorative objects, ceramics are all on display, by artists, most, I never heard of.
"La Toilette de la Servante" 1932 by Roger Chapelain-Midi
The museum and entire building complex in which the 4 floors of the museum are housed, is homage to Paul Landowski (1875-1961) .
Landowski was a French monument sculptor of Polish descent.
His best-known work of 1931 is "Christ the Redeemer " in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He died in the Boulogne-Billancourt suburb where the museum, which is dedicated to his work, has over 100 of his objects on display.
Special Exhibit Add for the Luxury Ship Liner
The museum also carried a special temporary exhibit to the
"Ile Saint Louis" - a French luxury Ocean Liner Ship (1927-1959)
the most luxurious French cruise Line of its era.
It operated for 30 years, by CGT Shipping company accommodating 1000 passengers served by 800 crew members.
The Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (CGT) typically known overseas, as the French Line, was a French shipping company, established in 1855 by the Jewish brothers - "Émile and Issac Péreire" ( prominent 19th-c Parisian financiers of a Sefardi Portuguese descent, established from 1740 who were rivals of the Rothschilds) under the name Compagnie Générale Maritime, originally CGT was entrusted by the French government to transport mails to North AmericaIn. In 1861, the name of the company was changed to Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, and it gained fame in the 1910s and 1930s with its prestigious ocean liners.
This luxury ship was the first major ocean liner built after World War I, and launched in 1926 being the first liner ever to be decorated almost entirely with modern Art Deco style. She was neither the largest ship nor the fastest, but was considered the most beautifully decorated ship built by CGT, becoming the favored ship of the pre-World War II era, carrying young, wealthy and fashionable Americans to Europe and back.
The Ile de Louis Ocean liner was small in comparison to the Mauritania , QE, or Titanic ,but in those last years of the declining French empire a symbol of luxury as The NY Times wrote “ you will never see anything like that again “. Serving the most rich and famous of the period at $6000 for an inside cabin per crossing and 115,000 for a 3 br suite it is consistent with the exhibit we saw. On display were advertising posters of the liner, paintings, and original furniture from the ship, also Belle Époque decorations off the walls of the ship, which reminded us of the ones at the Paramount theater in Oakland, as well as a display of many photos and video clips, and even restaurants' menus.
Ironically, all of the ship's luxurious fittings were removed for its conversion into a prison ship during World War II. This was our opportunity to view them at the exhibit.
As to our own cruise ship experience - we have not been on a cruise in our lives, but will sail next March, at a “ nearly cruise “ for 14 days expedition, on an active container cargo ship, over the seas of the South Pacific.
The longer bus ride back to the city center, with my nose pressed to the window shield, exposed us to the breathtaking bridge crossing river's views, and to the Parisian marvelous monuments and sites, which never cease to amaze us.
More on the Jewish Pereire Family
Their grandfather -Jacob Rodrigues Pereira, (1715-1780) a descendant of a Portuguese Crypto-Jews born in Portugal. His baptismal name was Francisco António Rodrigues. Establishing himself in mid 18c , first in Bordeaux where he returned to Judaism, he adopted the name Jacob, and became an interpreter for King Louis XV.
He was an academic and the first teacher of deaf-mutes in France, and one of the inventors of manual language for the deaf.
A lifelong devotee to the well-being of the Jews of southern France, Portugal, and Spain, beginning in 1749 he was a volunteer agent for the Portuguese Jews at Paris.
In 1777, his efforts led to Jews from Portugal receiving the right to settle in France.
In Bordeaux the street "Rodrigues-Pereire" was named in his honor.
Émile (1800 – 1875) and his brother Isaac ( 1806 -1880) founded a business conglomerate that included creating the Crédit Mobilier bank, which became a powerful funding agency for major projects in France, Europe and the world at large. It specialized in mining developments, it funded other banks including the Imperial Ottoman Bank or the Austrian Mortgage Bank, it funded railway construction and insurance companies, as well as building contractors, urban gas lighting, a newspaper and the Paris public transit system, and large investments in a transatlantic steamship lines.
In 1866/7, the Credit Mobielar underwent a severe crisis, and the Pereires were forced to resign at the demand of the Banque de France; that bank never recovered.
Eugène Pereire (1831–1908), son of Isaac, joined the enterprise and took over the running of the business empire on his father's death in 1875. He was the founder, in 1881, of the Banque Transatlantique, which still operates today, and is one of the oldest private banks in France. In 1909, Eugène's granddaughter Noémie Halphen married banking competitor Maurice de Rothschild (banker and politician).
Baroness Noémie de Rothschild (1888-1968) was a philanthropist and property/hotels developer herself. turned her hôtel particulier in Paris into a hospital during World War I. In 1916, she decided to develop a ski resort in France to avoid having to holiday alongside the Germans in St. Moritz, Switzerland..
To be continued...