Saturday, December 14, 2013
Jean-Antoine-Gabriel Davioud, designer of the well known Fontaine St-Michel, was also the creative force behind the strange Palais du Trocadéro, demolished in 1935. The huge building (derisively known as the “crab” because of its silhouette) was built for the 1878 World’s Fair to accommodate meetings of international organizations. The name Trocadéro refers to the Battle of Trocadéro in Spain, in which the French had a hand in restoring the Spanish Bourbons to the throne. The luxurious and over-the-top style of this building inspired many restaurants, cinemas and nightclubs to use the name.
The Palais du Trocadéro and the banks of the Seine were linked by terraced gardens that still afford the best view of the Eiffel Tower. The “palace” contained a large concert hall with two wings and two towers in a style characterized by Moorish and Byzantine elements. The concert hall contained a large 4-manual organ built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, the first large organ to be installed in a concert hall in France. César Franck's landmark Trois Pièces were premiered on the Trocadéro organ, which was ultimately removed to a hall in Lyon and subsequently destroyed by fire.
The Palais du Trocadéro was replaced in 1937 by the Palais de Chaillot, which forms the terminus of a monumental axis that begins at the École Militaire, sweeps across the Champs-de-Mars to the Eiffel Tower, then crosses the Seine and up this hill.
Note: Architect Davioud, a colleague of Baron Haussmann, was also responsible for the two theaters at the Place du Châtelet: Théâtre du Châtelet and Théâtre de la Ville. The latter was known previously as the Theatre Sarah Bernhardt, where the actress produced herself for nearly two decades from 1899. Since the late 1970s, this venue has been known for its presentation of ballets.