Meet Mr. de la Fontaine

Reviewed on 02/15/2011 | No Reviews

The longer you walk around Paris, the more you realise that you will never be able to fully explore it. Too rich, too dense, too packed with scenes and sights is the city and you’re only chance is to let yourself go. Only then might you find Jean de La Fontaine.

Take the metro to La Muette and walk down the Chaussée de la Muette, it’s a walk along the most splendid bourgeois architecture of the 16th arrondissement. You’ll be greeted by romantic statues on your left hand side, an urban park is surrounds you and the fresh air of the nearby Bois de Boulogne might tweak your nose a bit. Walking here, you can’t miss La Fontaine. He’ll appear right in front of you, a huge and heavy guy completely made of bronze, and he’ll make you smile.

The fox and the Crow

He wears a wig as people of his kind did in the 17th century but that’s not the main thing. It’s the two animals at his feet that make the humour of the scene. Fortunately, the sculptor added his version of “The Fox and the Crow” to his work. So you can see, at La Fontaine’s feet, the crow with the cheese still in its beak and, in front of the bird, the flattering fox, eager to get it.

The lesson’s worth a cheese?

You might know the rest of the story: The fox utters his compliments, calling the crow beautiful and wondering whether its voice was equally nice. The crow, stupid enough, caws to prove the compliment – making the cheese fall as the fox’s prize.

In the written fable, La Fontaine lets the fox deliver the moral in the end:

  • Flatterers thrive on fools’ credulity.
  • The lesson’s worth a cheese, don’t you agree?”
  • The crow, shamefaced and flustered swore,
  • Too late, however: “Nevermore!”“

This, to me, is Paris as well: a universe where literature is your companion whereever you go. Adding tales, songs and verses to your traveller’s diary.

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