Friday, April 6, 2012

Here, there and everywhere - the coat of arms of Paris


It decorates the ceiling of the grand reception room in the Hôtel de Ville...


adorns the Escalier d'Honneur, the main staircase, at the Sorbonne...


enhances Pont Alexandre III and is still visible on the only Renaissance fountain in Paris, the Fountain des Innocents, which was inaugurated on June 16, 1549.


The coat of arms of Paris is here, there and everywhere, but what does it mean? The sailing vessel, an odd symbol for a landlocked city, is thought to represent the ancient Ile de la Cité, which sits like a boat in the middle of the Seine River. The city's motto, Fluctuat nec mergitur ("She is tossed by the waves, but is not sunk") is frequently seen beneath the coat of arms.

On some crests, like the one below, you'll see a portrayal of the ancient city walls at the top to remind us that civilization needs protection, while the wreath of Celtic oak and laurel represents victory. Some modern designs do not include fleurs-de-lis because lily flowers were a symbol of the French monarchy.

Even though I see the coat of arms on a regular basis, Chickster's post about the Breton flag made me realize that I have yet to spot the flags for the Île-de-France and Paris. Please let me know if you see one of them before I do!

The coat of arms of Paris, at the bottom of the banner, is part of the Republican Guard's insignia.

9 comments:

  1. Interesting history about Paris' coat of arms;I think its motto (She is tossed by the waves, but is not sunk) is very fitting for the city.

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    1. Paris certainly has faced some deadly waves in the past but always seems to come through the storm. I agree that it's a most fitting motto.

      Thanks to your interesting post about Breton's flag, I've got something new to look for!

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  2. Yes, very interesting. I wondered about the fleur-de-lys myself when I saw them on the Tours coat of arms at the mairie. Which reminds me, I have a post I wrote on that a couple of weeks ago that I haven't got around to publishing!

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    1. Whether to include the fleur-de-lys or not arises in all kinds of situations. When I toured the Gobelins tapestry manufactory, they said that they leave it out when reproducing old patterns even though it means that they aren't faithful to the original work. It seems to be a real dilemma.

      I'm glad that this reminded you of the marie in Tours because I enjoyed seeing your photos and reading your post!

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  3. Also, you must remember that waterways were once the strongest (best) way to transport goods and to travel, and having a boat to symbolize your city would announce your merchant status, wealth and abilities. And wouldn't the flag of Paris be implied by the red and blue background? (I had to google to see what the flag actually is.)

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    1. Excellent point about waterways being the best ways to transport goods! Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the red and blue background on the coat of arms:

      Blue and red are the traditional colours of Paris, used on the city's coat of arms. Blue is identified with Saint Martin, red with Saint Denis.

      Interestingly enough, the flag for the Ile de France, the region that includes Paris, still has 3 fleur-de-lys on it!

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    2. oh interesting, and red being a signal for prostitution and St Denis being an area of prostitution, interesting.

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  4. Thanks Mary Kay, for pointing this out. In all l my visits to Paris I have never noticed the coat if arms or even knew what it meant.
    Now I can look out for it on my next visit. Which is only.19 days away! Yay!
    Denise, love from Bolton

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