Some evocative pieces of old Paris have been sold at auction.
The pièce de résistance of the sale, ‘Paris Mon Amour’, at the Drouot auction house, was a set of 40 original iron spiral steps from the Eiffel Tower.
“I have been thinking for many years about organising an auction concerning Paris,” said Christophe Lucien, who put the sale together.
The moment arrived when officials of Nogent-sur-Marne, east of the city, asked Lucien to sell the section of the Eiffel Tower staircase bought by the town in 1983.
“I thought that was the perfect opportunity because there is nothing more symbolic of Paris than a staircase from the Eiffel Tower,” said Lucien.
Things moved quickly. “I just spread the word and everybody started to pull out objects related to Paris from their drawers and cupboards. In almost every French family there are some souvenirs of Paris.”
Apart from the Eiffel Tower steps, the 301 lots included a taxi counter dating from around 1920, a lamp-post from the Champs-Élysées, a pair of wooden Metro (underground/subway) seats and an old rusting iron public urinal known as a vespasienne.
Perhaps the oddest lot of all was a piece of dried bread. During the siege of the famished French capital at the end of the Franco–Prussian war, someone stuck the piece of bread – then a great rarity – on a piece of cardboard. It carries the inscription: ‘Historic souvenir of 1870-1871.’
by Andy Moreton, with Associated Press
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