Saint-Germain-des-Prés — a wealth of French history

Riders of the busy Paris métro Line 4, which runs north and south through the entire city, will recognize this unusual station at the old abbey church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which traces its history back to Childebert I (ruled 511–558). It’s in the 6th arrondissement, which is pretty much the center of tourist life.

Metro Paris Ligne 4 station Saint Germain des Pres 01
Métro Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Photo from Clicsouris, Wikipedia. Click for credit.

Unlike most métro stations, it is virtually free of advertising posters. Its pristine white-tile walls are decorated with light, and exhibit cases line the walls along both sides.

Last week one of the exhibits featured illustrated letters from famous artists. They are difficult to photograph because of the curved glass of the exhibit cases, but I was able to make acceptable pictures of letters from the painters Salvador Dali and Henri Matisse and the composer Camille Saint-Saëns (click the links to see their Wikipedia pages, in English).

The exhibition is entitled “The most beautiful illustrated letters from the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts,” a private museum in the neighborhood.

Dali1
Salvador Dali to Massine, 1941-1942

Dali2

Dali0
Caption for the Dali letter

 

Matisse
Henri Matisse, 1943. The letter discusses his drawings for Pasiphaé, Chant de Minos, an illustrated book he completed in 1945. It wasn’t published until almost 20 years after his death.

The story behind Pasiphaé, Chant de Minos (English)

Saint Sens
Camille Saint-Saëns

 

Wikipedia pages for the artists (English):

Dali
Matisse
Saint-Saëns

Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits (English)

Saint-Germain-des-Prés – what does it mean? (English)

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