Tuesday 23 December 2014

The Top 5 Posts of 2014

At the beginning of 2014 I wasn’t sure whether I’d even make it to five posts across the full twelve months of the year. Two dozen posts later - a still reasonable rhythm of two posts per month (I can scarcely believe I wrote a shade under 150 posts in 2009!) – I am thankfully in a position where I can produce my eagerly awaited annual top 5.

If the production has dried up, I am nevertheless pleased to see that three of these five posts are in the all-time top 10 on the blog. The subjects are scarcer and take a little bit longer to appear, but I’m glad that they still interest you, my reader.

As I have done at the end of the last 3 or 4 years, I will list here – in reverse order – the five most popular posts of the year. I will also explain why I chose to write about them, what surprises I found along the way and why I think they found an audience. In a few days I’ll also highlight my three personal favourite posts (I can’t stretch to five this year!).

Thanks once again for spending time on Invisible Paris, for your comments and your challenges. Have a great holiday period, and see you in 2015!

5. The Galerie Argentine: Sauvage and Sarazin's metallic misfit

The 16th arrondissement is almost another country for me, geographically opposite to the lines of my regular routines. When I do make it to this privileged portion of Paris though, I always find things of interest, perhaps because they stand out even more here than in other parts of the city. This was certainly the case with the Galerie Argentine, and for me it was the whole story too.

The building is a fascinating one, but clearly unloved, a rare example of right building wrong place.  I was a little surprised to find this topic in the top 5 though, partly because it solicited zero comments, but name checking a couple of interesting and obviously well-researched architects must have helped push it up the list.

4. Map hacking and murder in the Villa des Ternes
I had often walked past the Villa des Ternes without ever trying to break through its defences. Discovering my old friend Urgus Tabarovitch labelled here on Google Maps though made up my mind for me. I had to get inside.

I could have produced a post describing the often spectacular houses in this private estate, but my story focused instead on mystery and murder. There is something about the claustrophobic nature of the enclave that led me in this direction, and I’m glad to see that my choice proved to be a successful one. Photos are nice, but there’s nothing like a good adventure.

3. Paris plants its first forest

It’s always interesting to revisit subjects and to see how they have developed over time. In the six years I’ve been running this blog, certain featured buildings and sites have now disappeared forever, so it is nice to be able to speak about something in creation.

Planting a forest in a city is a very ambitious project, a long-term plan that is almost anachronistic in today’s hyperactive society. I was surprised to learn that it is the first time the city has ever attempted such a thing, but hope it won’t be the last. That tag made it quite an easy sell on social media, bringing in readers, but it is also obviously a concept that interests people who would like to see their cities become a little wilder.

2. The oldest basketball court in the world

The annual Journées du Patrimoine event doesn’t generally throw up many surprises, but this year one thing stood out for me. I certainly wasn’t previously aware that the oldest (surviving) basketball court in the world was tucked away in a basement in Paris, and I have the impression that the YMCA was hardly aware of it itself.

The fact that the court is still there and completely unchanged seems to be more by accident than design, a reflection of a shortage of funds at the association (the indoor swimming pool and bowling alley alongside are more or less in ruin). Nevertheless, it is a unique and rather strange facility in Paris, so make sure you visit next year if it opens again.

1. A drift along Rue de Vaugirard, the longest street in Paris

If audience numbers were my only consideration, experience from this year would teach me that all posts should include superlatives or numerical adjectives in their titles! This one though is actually subject to debate. Is the Rue Vaugirard really the longest, or should we count the Avenue Daumesnil? Peu importe, my goal here was just to take a nice walk and attempt to read the different textures of a very long street.

For some reason though I decided to do this at 1pm on one of the hottest days of the year, but there was more than enough to keep me focused and out of the many bars I passed by. I’m not surprised that this should finish the year as the most-read post, as it’s a street that in many ways encapsulates Paris itself. It was also easy to drive clicks by running a kind of teasing campaign on social media.

Perhaps next year I could reduce my efforts by simply staying in bars and dreaming up superlatives...


Terry said...

I remember each one of those fascinating posts, Peter. Thank you for your wonderful, deeply-researched and lovingly photographed posts! I know it is a lot of work and I don't blame you at all for spacing them farther apart. Best wishes to you and your loved ones in 2015!

Dom Ciancibelli said...

I look forward to your posts and really enjoy the information I get from all of them. My wife is a Francophile and spends at least a month or more there every year and visits an old high school classmate that has been living in Paris for the past 20 years. I'm retiring in 2015 and plans to spend a month in Paris staying in the 12th at Hotel del la Port Doree which has become our home away from home. I plan to visit as many of the spots you post in your blog as possible. Thanks for keeping us informed of all the wonderful places that exist in Paris.

Dom Ciancibelli

public squares said...

Thanks Peter, it always pleasure to read fresh comments but reading the favourite ones again is double a pleasure. Happy Hew Year and all the best.
Aleks, Toronto/Beograd

John M said...


Have you considered re-formatting some of your posts into a book?

You could break it down by arrondissement, architecture, places, rues, etc.

You've amassed and researched an impressive catalog.

John Muller

Paul Robinson said...

Murky buckets for all the fascinating posts. As ex pat Brit/Irish i have only ever seen Paris, from point of view of the TGV (that is anything but vite through Paris) or Roissy, when passing through to/from airport or sis in law's in the beautiful Morbihan. Vastly different from here in the grimy, industrial north (Valenciennes, near Lille and Belgian border), but wouldn't change it - love the crazy Ch'tis. Thank you for fascinating insight into virtually another world, despite being part of same country. Keep it coming. Happy healthy and prosperous new year.

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