Les Mascarons

My new bedside reading is Grammaire des Immeubles Parisiens: Six siècles de façades du Moyen Âge à nos jours, by Claude Mignot.

I like the idea of architecture as a grammar lesson, for what is the point of grammar, after all, but to tell stories, and buildings tell great stories.

The buildings in Paris tell romances.

During one of my earliest visits to Paris, I was totally seduced by the faces above the doors and windows of so many of the buildings and took dozens of photos of them.

My new book tells me that the faces are called mascarons (mas-kar-rohn).

They flourished in Paris in the 18th century, when the rising middle class was building monuments to their new-found prosperity.

Often faces of men will be alternated with faces of women.

Some are beautiful, some are mythological, some are gruesome, but no two are alike.

They are poetry in stone.

Grammaire des Immeubles Parisiens: Six siècles de façades du Moyen Âge à nos jours

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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7 Responses to Les Mascarons

  1. Cliff Gilbert says:

    Was Mascaron making something done by specialized businesses or did one commission one’s local starving artist to make them?

    • Patricia Gilbert says:

      I imagine there was a guild of stone workers that the builders contracted with, but I’ll try to find out more definitely.

  2. I learn so much from your blog!

  3. geoffneilsen says:

    My compliments on a web log of rare quality.
    Following the architecture theme, perhaps you have some thoughts on ‘La Magie Tour Eiffel’? I have heard that Parisians are not always keen to sing the praises of this engineering masterpiece and would prefer some of the the city’s other splendours such as Notre-Dame or the Opera House to hold premier iconic status. (I am, of course, English).

    • Thanks for the compliment!

      You are so right – the Eiffel Tower is not always loved. Many French people consider it just for tourists.I’ve blogged about La Dame de Fer in the past, and she’ll probably come up a few more times, central as she is to our concept of Paris.

  4. Pingback: Une Marquise | One quality, the finest.

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