Les Paves


Paris, as Traugott’s admirable book tells us, was the City of the barricade. The barricades of ’68 continued a tradition of defiance, recklessness and invention.

The pave was a mainstay - wall and weapon - seemingly easily loosed from its role as support for the automobile, it soon acquired a symbolic status. One captured in Duras’ exhortation and promise. The promise not just of a  heterotopia - but a UTOPIA.

Barricade locations in July 1830

Circles indicate identical locations in both insurrections - 1830 and 1848

The spread of  barricades in 1848



Is that how the slogan appeared to the imaginations of the barricade builders ? We don’t know. What of others’ versions of ‘la plage’ - i.e. in  literature and  the pictorial ? Here are some examples. To me they form a composite - bizarre, sublime, kitschy, sexy, and edgy. Something that has a certain allure.                      

An allure beyond the quotidian

La plageLa_plage.html

Like the beach itself

A little more about that slogan - Sous les paves, la plage.

Its context is crucial - “the biggest mass movement in French history”: between early May and early June ‘68 France experienced an unprecedented event.10 million went on strike - and not just in Paris. Many occupied their work places.

My abiding memory  from a television  news report is of three ladies in a patisserie -talking , on the door an ‘OCCUPE’ sign. From factory to football association buildings the movement spread. The  State was temporarily in trouble as people questioned the nature of their role in that institution. But by June the patisserie was back in operation, as were Renault, Sud Aviation,etc.. The students had been evicted, the universities cleaned of all signs of the uprising. But what had been glimpsed was another form of living, an existence beyond the humdrum, and a willingness to fight for that - on the proverbial barricade