Of nuns, hookers and trees

September 8th, 2013, 10pm

It was 14°C with clouds and visibility OK. The breeze was light.

Robinias are the oldest living trees in Paris. Introduced from Northern America in the 16th century, they became fashionable in the middle of the 18th after the trend set by royal gardeners in Versailles. Everybody had to have one, even conventual gardens. One of the last survivors is aging in a remnant of the former Ursulines convent in the Latin Quarter. In its prime youth, this robinia witnessed the first steps of Victor Hugo, his mother and her lover being hosted in the neighbouring Feuillantines convent decommissioned by the revolution. Ursulines and Feuillantines sat on either side of a narrow alley opening onto rue Saint Jacques.
High 30 cm thick stone walls shield the nuns from the sex trade taking place in the alley. But the towering robinia saw and heard everything. Today, it overlooks secluded gardens, it has lost a few limbs, while the sex alley is no more. Behind its trunk, a garden shed can be seen, a shed with 30 cm wide stone walls and fading memories.

Paul, Gabrielle, Alvin, Lia and 4 others said thanks.

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Tom Frozart

PhD in Information science, coaching engineers in hi flying industries worldwide. Former head of scientific team in Antarctica. Author of short stories, Skive Magazine (Sydney)

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