vendredi 23 décembre 2005

About three blocks from our apartment is a large garden and the Palais Longchamp. The garden is quite popular for kids and families to play on the playgrounds, ball games, pony rides, carousel, etc. It used to be a zoo, but the animals were removed some years ago due to noise. The Palais is actually a folly with two large wings, housing the Natural History Museum and the Fine Arts Museum, closed for renovations.

This historic building, inaugurated in 1869, commemorates the arrival of
the water of the canal between the river Durance and Marseille. On the same site, it brought together the Museum of Fine Arts, which before was in the former Bernadines chapel, the Museum Natural History, a botanic park and a zoo. The rich decoration of the building evokes the abundance and fertility brought by the water of the canal. Here sculpture has a dominating role, and this work was entrusted to the greatest artists of that period. The famous animal sculptor Antoine Louis Barbye created the lions and the tigers of the entrance, and the monumental fountain in the centre of the row of columns is the work of Jules Cavelier. It represents the river Durance surrounded by figures symbolizing the vines and wheat on a cart pulled by the bulls of Camargue.

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