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Inevitable

The beauty and harmony of Paris did not prevent it from becoming the arena for the most controversial events: coronations and executions, solemn mass and mad rampant, triumphal processions and shameful escape. If Paris could serve as a beautiful decoration for French history, then the history of France could not help but add luster to its beloved city. If the Celtic tribe of the Parisians had not once settled on the island of Cite, Paris would still have arisen where it has existed for more than 2,000 years, but it would have been called, of course, differently. But the parisians were the first to appreciate the beauty of life on a flourishing, fertile island, surrounded by the calm flow of the Seine. Of course, they could not know that they were looking for a place for one of the world capitals, but the choice they made in the III century BC, was, as it turned out, absolutely inerrancy. Much later, when Paris became Paris, scientists tried to find at least some rational explanation of the phenomenon of this city – its unprecedented attractiveness and popularity. Unexpectedly, it turned out that Paris, more precisely, the Cite Island, more precisely – the Notre-Dame de Paris, is located at the so-called convergence point – the geometric center to which the streams of all Paris-surrounding rivers converge. In other words, there is an invisible geological funnel with a radius of almost 200 kilometers, in the center of which Paris is located. At the beginning, the city occupied only one island, with the Romans it spread to the hill nearest to the river: a forum, a bath and an amphitheater were built here – all that was supposed to be in an ancient Roman city. The hill was called Lukotitsius, the city – Lutetia, and in 53 BC, the great Caesar mentioned it in his “Comments”. For the sanctuary, the Romans chose a hill higher – on the other side of the Seine. They built first the temple of Mars, later – the temple of Mercury. In the 3rd century, Roman soldiers led three arrested preachers to the top of a hill. Among them was Dionysius (in French, Denis), the first bishop of Paris, accused by the authorities of spreading Christianity. The walls of the temple of Mercury waited for him to publicly renounce, but the 90-year-old elder refused to betray his faith and was immediately thrown on the block. However, as the legend tells, as soon as the Roman sword was stained with blood, St. Denis rose from his knees, picked up his severed head, and moved forward. He walked another 6,000 steps before falling, so as not to rise again. According to legend, in this place, north of the hill, he was buried. Where, probably, the name Montmartre – the Hill of Martyrs originated. In the XII century, a basilica appeared over the tomb of the saint – the church of Saint-Denis, which became the tomb of French kings for many centuries. Two centuries after the death of St. Denis, a little girl came to Paris with the Celtic name Genoveufe, meaning “daughter of heaven.” It was a time when the hordes of the Huns were preparing to conquer Europe. Attila’s seven hundred thousandth army rolled to Paris – in anticipation of disaster, the devout Genevieve was as if in a daze: she ate almost nothing, spending days and nights in prayers. The Roman prefect had already fled to Spain, panic began in the city when Genevieve went out into the street. “The Huns did not touch Paris!” – in her words such confidence sounded that people involuntarily calmed down. Incomprehensible way, the invasion rampant stopped at the very gates of Paris, and then turned back! It is not known whether the Lord heeded her prayers, but people began to consider her holy. Geneviève died in the year 502, 80 years old, and was buried under the arches of the basilica on top of the Lyucothius Hill, which since its name was called Mont Sainte-Genevieve. Many years later, Mont Sainte-Genevieve became a citadel of science and education: from the XIII century there are solid walls of the University of Paris – the famous Sorbonne. As for Montmartre, the religious spirit associated with the memory of St. Denis, gradually left the hill, giving way to vineyards and places of entertainment. In 1787, out of 58 buildings on Martir Street (the very street along which it climbed to the block of St. Denis), 25 belonged to a cabaret.

The revolution tried to “equalize” both hills. Montmartre was looted as the property of winemakers, and the shrines of the monastery (including the power of St. Denis). And at Mont Sainte-Genevieve, the grandiose cathedral, built by Louis XV in memory of St. Genevieve, was redeveloped into the Pantheon – the necropolis for famous French (Rousseau, Voltaire, Hugo, Zola, Curie, etc.). The remains of the saint, extracted from the crypt, were mercilessly burned and dispelled over the Seine. In 1814, Russian troops entered Paris. Having defeated the detachment that defended Montmartre, the Cossacks did not spare the local millers either – the Debray family, of which only one survived by miracle. Being crippled, he was forced to abandon the baking of bread and began to sell bread (la galette), at the same time arranging dances for his clients. Thus was born the famous cabaret Moulin de la Galette. In 1875, in memory of the victims of the Paris Commune over the summit of Montmartre, and over the whole of Paris, the Sacré-Cœur Cathedral ascended. Dominating the hill, he could not change the principle of “burning life” characteristic of the inhabitants and guests of Montmartre. But the Impressionists were able to weaken it, giving the fun artistic touch. Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, Manet, Sisley and Cezanne. In 1886, 33-year-old Van Gogh painted canvases here, which were then no one needed for nothing. Toulouse-Lautrec created his Montmartre, full of cynicism, erotica and strange fantasies. Later, a new generation of no less brilliant names climbed the hill: Picasso, Braque, Leger, Utrillo and, of course, Modigliani. To destroy this gushing source of talents and geniuses, history took as much as the world war … But let us return to the Middle Ages. Under the auspices of St. Denis and St. Genevieve, Paris grew rapidly. In 1600, 500 thousand people already lived in it – for that time it was a real metropolis! The problems that confronted medieval Paris are difficult to imagine today. The width of the cobbled streets was from one and a half to three meters, in the middle at the slightest rain a stormy stream arose, into which dirty water and sewage was discharged from each house. The smell was such that exquisite persons preferred not to go out without having a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of perfume in their hands. Because of the narrowness and narrowness of the streets in the city there were practically no carriages, they rode horses and mules. One of the princes of the blood once drove near the church of Saint-Gervais, when suddenly a herd of pigs ran out into the street. The horse reared up and threw off its rider – the prince fell, hit his head on a stone pedestal and died. From that day on, freedom of movement for pigs in Paris was sharply restricted. In the Renaissance, Paris was to be a work of art. This dreamed of Francis I – a passionate admirer of Italian architecture. But the titanic work on the transformation of the city began only Henry IV, and the first thing he finished building the New Bridge. In the architectural evolution of Paris, this bridge was a kind of springboard into the future, where beauty and convenience should have become the main qualities of the city. The new bridge (now it is the oldest bridge in Paris) was the first bridge on which no houses were built and from which a wonderful view of the city and the Seine was opened. For centuries, it served as a favorite place for walks and meetings, until it ceded its role to the Boulevards. The bridge was built very slowly. Thrill-seekers were entertained by walking over unfinished overflights on the boards, often falling and being injured. In 1603, Henry IV himself ventured to repeat this dangerous trick, and when the courtiers tried to reason with the fact that many people fell into the river, he asked: “And how many kings were among them?” – “Not one” – the servants were forced to admit. Henry IV liberated Paris in the literal and figurative sense. From the city of refuge, he turned into a city scene, a city holiday that invited residents to leave their homes and go out onto streets and boulevards. Place Place, Louvre, Tuileries, Palais Royal, Place Vendome, Place de la Concorde …

But another Paris remained – closed to the public, dangerous and hostile, the Paris of those quarters where even armed soldiers did not risk entering. These were the infamous Yards of Miracles. The main miracle in these Yards occurred every evening, when the whole mob after the “working day” returned to their homes. The most famous Courtyard of Miracles numbered about 500 families and went out onto Saint-Denis Street in the area of ​​the Passage du Cur. Only the police prefecture established in 1667, located on the famous Que d’Orfevre, was able to cope with it. He was especially famous for his raids into the Yards of Wonderland, Lieutenant of Police La Reini. Meeting the crowd armed with iron rods and musketons, he said something like the following: “I could send all of you to the galleys. But I feel sorry for you. Today, the walls of your barracks will be demolished, and I give you exactly an hour to get away … But keep in mind: the last twelve will pay for all. Six will be hanged on the spot, six will get 20 years of hard labor! ”La Reini always kept his word, so after 30 minutes the Yard was empty … The fight against the“ medieval heritage ”in Paris unfolded with a new force in the middle of the XIX century. The prefect of the Seine Department, Baron Georges Osmann, took up the redevelopment of the city. It is to him that Paris owes its wide boulevards and star-like squares with divergent rays-avenues. But the Parisians will never forgive Osman of destruction on the island of Cite, where, covered with excitement of reorganization, the prefect demolished two dozen churches and destroyed more than fifty ancient streets that kept the originality and charm of medieval Paris. With the iron hand of the reformer, Baron Osmann led Paris to new urban planning solutions, setting the stage for such an experiment as the Eiffel Tower. To say that she was not loved is to say nothing. She was hated and cursed by all famous writers and artists of France. A collective protest signed by them is kept in the museum. But when the tower was opened (in 1889, the year of the World Exhibition in Paris), it was visited by about 2 million people – an absolute record for all times. The most persistent fighter with the Eiffel Tower was Guy de Maupassant. But somehow he was met in a restaurant on one of its platforms. “This is the only place where I don’t see the damned tower,” the famous writer found. An example of the Eiffel Tower once again proves the exclusivity of Paris. What other city could not only adapt a completely alien in style engineering structure, but also turn it into its own symbol! In essence, this is the very “l’art de vivre” – “the art of living” that the French are so proud of. Paris never sought to lead technical progress, but skillfully used it. “To be is more important than to have, to look is more important than to be!” Of all the greatest inventions of mankind, Paris took only one thing, but what kind of film was cinema! For hundreds of years of turbulent history, Paris has learned to be (or to seem) happy. The illusion of happiness hovers over its streets, like a Fata Morgana: it dissipates, it condenses. But sometimes illusions become reality. Where is this going? On the boulevard, in a boutique, in a cafe? In Paris. In a city that is so hard to escape …

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