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The Golden Hershey Kiss at Pont de l’Alma

I was with some tour clients last week, and as we crossed from the Avenue George V and across the Place de l’Alma to drive along the Right Bank, one of the kids asks, “What’s that golden Hershey Kiss?” “Oh, that’s a replica of the Statue of Liberty Flame,” I reply, explaining how it was a gift from the International Herald Tribune to Paris for its 150th anniversary back in the 1980s. “It’s become a sort of memorial spot because Princess Diana’s car crashed in the tunnel beneath it.” 

Not this one, a replica of the Statue of Liberty flame seen peeking out over the Pont de l’Alma on the Right Bank.

The girl’s grandfather then says, “Not that one, the big thing that looks like a gold dome across the other side of the bridge?” I turn around to see what they’re talking about, and suddenly remember talk of the new Russian Orthodox Cathedral being built there. It has been an enormous construction site for the past few years, but last month they placed the first of five golden onion-style domes — typical of Russian Orthodox churches — that will grace the final monument housing a bilingual school, church and cultural center. As it’s just a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower, it will be hard to miss this gilded addition to the Parisian skyline. And yes, before they added the cross it did indeed look like a giant golden Hershey Kiss. 

From the architect’s website Wilmotte & Associés; the Russian Orthodox cathedral being built on the Left Bank. Only the largest dome is currently in place. 

You can see more images here on the architect’s website. 

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  • Paul: There is already a Grand Mosque just across from the Jardin des Plantes. And it's gorgeous, built in the 1920s to resemble the Alhambra in Spain! The Muslim community in Paris certainly needs more space, I don't think any religion should have a monopoly. (And, BTW, there is a very nice building of Islamic architectural style overlooking Luxembourg Gardens…perhaps you didn't notice?);-) Please, folks. No political or religious bullying here.

  • That is such a shame in such a beautiful city as Paris! When will they build a Grand Mosque in the Tuleries Gardens I wonder…..

  • Richard: yes it is the former Meteo France building (they're now in a larger, more modern space in the suburbs). Lorcan: Which Unesco world heritage site? The building is not actually on the banks of the Seine, Les Berges are there (Les Egouts, aka the sewer tours are though), and it only "obstructs" the Eiffel Tower if you're standing right in front of it (the church, not the Eiffel Tower). The American Church is right next door (a block east), and also "obstructs" the Eiffel Tower if you stand right in front of it. As we already have the gilded Tzar Alexandre III bridge, certainly one of the most beautiful and ostentatious bridges in Paris, I don't think another Russian monument in the same district is a big deal (and certainly another church in Paris is not so strange; they're on every block). The relationship between France and Russia spans several centuries and weathers petty politics. The golden domes will far outlast Putin. Everyone can decide for themselves if they like the aesthetics (I personally think they add interest to the Paris skyline…much more interesting than the urine-colored canopy that just opened with much fanfare on top of the ugliest shopping mall in France).

  • A Unesco heritage site, on the banks of the Seine, obstructing views of the Eiffel Tower, displacing the Met Office… a cathedral to the glory of Putin's Russia