Beach Travelers, Paris

24

Porte d’Oréé

Porte d’Oréé (Golden Gate) is composed of an elaborate fountain and palace of the same name, located near the Bois de Vincennes in the 12th arrondissement in southeastern Paris.

Beach-Travelers-The-Fountain-d’OrééThe Fountain d’Oréé includes numerous cascading basins and measures approximately 230 feet (or 2/3 of a football field) long! Unfortunately, you have to imagine cascading water and water jets because right now the fountain is non-functioning. It is majestic but neglected.

 

Athena-Green-Goddess-3Athena, Greek goddess of the hunt, occupies the upper part of the fountain. Towering 16 feet high in bronze gilt, the virgin goddess holds a spear in her right hand and Nike, goddess of victory, on her left hand. The statue was originally placed at the entrance to the Palais de la Porte d’Oréé, built for the International Exposition of 1931.

The foreground sculpture, “Swimming in Happiness,” by Senegalese sculptor, Diadji Diop, is impossible to miss. The Palais d’Orée in the background was intended to resemble a classical temple, and the façade is covered with a bas-relief of 250 figures of people and animals. The Palais d’Orée now houses the National  Museum of the History of Immigration, with a tropical aquarium on its lower level.

The bas-relief on the palace façade took a team of sculptors four months to sculpt and measures 290 feet by 46 feet. The “stone tapestry” presents idealized conditions of life in France’s overseas territories and exalts their riches and economic contribution to France.

By chance, I visited the palace on World Oceans Day, June 8. Its purpose is to make people aware of the need to protect and preserve our oceans because we are overfishing them and filling them with rubbish. The art installation by Caroline Desnoettes, “Océanocide” has an angel-like sculpture surrounded by debris found in the ocean. The juxtaposition of the beauty of the sculpture with the terrible garbage surrounding it is striking.