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Interview with Rosemary Flannery, French-American author of ‘Angels in Paris’

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Rosemary Flannery is the author of ‘The Angels of Paris: Looking up in the World’s Most Beautiful City’. She moved to France in 1989, where she studied Méthodologie de l’Architecture at the Sorbonne and became fascinated by the different types of angels illustrated in architecture all over Paris. She works as a writer, artist, and also gives tours of Paris museums and neighbourhoods.

Personal

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Can you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate, hard-working, happy.

What first drew you to France?
A visceral attraction to its culture, aesthetic, food, history, beauty and its intrinsic artistic, sensual spirit.

What do you love most about life in Paris?
The richness of the simple pleasures like having a meal at an outdoor café; the way ordinary things are rendered beautiful, or made into an art form; the beauty of the city.

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Who is your favourite French architect, and why?
Liberal Bruant, the 17th century architect who designed the buildings of the Invalides (pictured left); the façade is one of the most graceful in Paris and the cour d’honneur, perfectly harmonious.

He also designed the Salpêtrière chapel, a very inventive creation, and his own house in the Marais, a beautiful work in the Baroque style.

Which photographer inspires your work the most?
I’m more subliminally inspired by artists such as Vermeer and Rembrandt than by photographers. The photographs in my book serve to illustrate the text.

Professional

Why did you choose to focus on Paris in your book?
I live in Paris and I love Paris.

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Which came first: your interest in architecture, Parisian history, or the angels themselves? Why?
My interest was piqued by a huge angel which is atop a tall column in the Parc Montsouris, near where I used to live. Then I began to notice so many different types of angels illustrated in architecture all over Paris, in the most unexpected places – on friezes and fountains, atop theatres and on the steps of the Opera, on cast-iron door grills, on monuments and sundials.

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I became fascinated by the history behind them, and wanted to know who sculpted them, and why they were there. The way the angels are depicted through the centuries and express  various artistic trends, such as Gothic, Renaissance, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, etc – also intrigued me and was the catalyst for my book.

Which was your favourite angel, and why?
It’s more a set of four musician angels which flank the entrance of what was a medieval auberge (small hotel and restaurant) in the Marais. They are intricately carved in stone, with marvellous details of their clothing and musical instruments and are set in an architectural framework. It is all executed with such care, you can feel the love that went into them!

These angels are also quite humorous, with their curly hair and merry smiles. I love the idea that they seem to welcome visitors to the house.

Favourites – Paris

Place to eat:
The Restaurant du Palais Royal in the Jardin du Palais Royal. The food is excellent and beautifully presented, and in fine weather you can dine out of doors in the garden, which is so lovely.

Place to drink:
Illy Espressamente café, 13 rue Auber near the Opera. Their coffee is the best in Paris, the Italian design of the interior is wonderful and the ambiance is great.

Place to shop:
All over Paris, I haven’t one particular place. Prefer small boutiques to large stores.

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Place to play:
I love to explore the Louvre, and wish I had more time to do so.

Day trip location:
Anywhere in Burgundy or in the countryside.

What is the most intriguing place in Paris?
There are so many! Perhaps strolling through the old arcades in the 1st, 2nd and 9th arrondissements, they are full of unique shops and restaurants.

What is the most inspiring place in Paris?
The view of Paris from the Pont Neuf.

Thank you Rosemary for taking the time to speak to us at MaVieFrançaise™. We’ve enjoyed getting to know more about you and your work.

Images:
1. Angels of Paris book
2. Rosemary
3. Les Invalides, on Wikipedia
4. Angel with portable harp, medieval auberge
5. Angel of the Parc Montsouris
6. Eglise St Jean de Montmartre, 18th arrondissement.


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  1. Rosemary Kneipp
    5 years ago

    Very interesting interview. I look forward to reading your book which I shall add to my Christmas wish list!