Tag Archives: Issy-Les-Moulineaux

1907 Voisin-Farman biplane

In a previous post I discussed the importance of  Issy-Les-Moulineaux in the history of French aviation. I focused the first part of that post in the first 1-km closed circuit flight by Henri Farman on the 13th of January 1908.

In this post I just wanted to leave a couple of pictures taken at the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace (Le Bourget) showing a replica of that plane and an article appearing two days later in the L’Aerophile explaining the achievement (in French).

Article appeared on 15 January 1908 in L'Aerophile.

Article appeared on 15 January 1908 in L’Aerophile.

1907 Voisin-Farman biplane.

1907 Voisin-Farman biplane.

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Issy-Les-Moulineaux: cradle of European aviation

The city of Paris, among other things, can pride itself for the role it played in the early development of aerospace and aviation. In my opinion and to my knowledge there 3 or 4 quite important places in Paris where one can breath the history of those times, one of them is Issy-Les-Moulineaux. In a previous post I mentioned the space dedicated to the aviation history in the gallery of the village placed at the Musée Français de la Carte à Jouer.

Issy is a suburb just at the southwest of Paris, where the Périphérique crosses the river, south of the XV arrondisement.

At the turn of the XX century there was in Issy a military field dedicated to training. With the advent of aviation, that field started to be dedicated to aviation by the several pioneers who decided to relocate their activity there.

One of the images that symbolizes the French nascent aviation industry at the time is the one shown in the picture below. In it we can see Henri Farman (car racing pilot and aviator) flying the 1907 Voisin biplane winning the Archdeacon Prize for the first closed-circuit kilometer flight in Europe. That flight took place in the military field at Issy-Les-Moulineaux.

Henri Farman winning the Archdeacon Prize for the first closed-circuit kilometer flight in Europe (file from Wikimedia Commons, unrestricted picture belonging to the Library of the Congress).

Circuit of the first 1km closed circuit flight at Issy.

Circuit of the first 1km closed circuit flight at Issy.

The circuit can be seen in the following graphic at the gallery of the village of Issy. The circuit was marked by 3 poles planted on the ground. Two poles marked the depart and arrival. One pole located at 500m marked the turning point.

The morning of of the 13th of January 1908, Farman took off with the Voisin biplane equipped with an Antoinette engine for a flight that lasted 1 minute and 28 seconds (thus at an average speed of 41 km/h). With this flight, Farman, won the Archdeacon Prize, which had been set back in 1904 by  Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe and Ernest Archdeacon, with an allocated sum of 50,000F.

In fact, apparently, Farman had achieved the feat already 2 days earlier, but it was only on the 13th of January that the flight was officially controlled by a commission from the Aero-Club de France (an institution created in 1898 to encourage the development of flight by individuals like Ernest Archdeacon, Jules Verne, André Michelin, Alberto Santos-Dumont, Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe among others).

In the picture with the circuit you may locate the aviation field by seeing the wind rose and the river Seine on the top of the image. Today, that field is the Heliport of Paris, the street surrounding it being called Rue Henri Farman.

That first closed circuit in Europe may be the most iconic image of Issy, but it was not the first happening nor the last aviation achievement that took place there, see some others below:

  • 1905 (March, 26): at the initiative of Ernest Archdeacon a glider type Wright, towed by a car, rose to about 10m.
  • 1906 (August, 18): the Romanian Traian Vuia flies for about 11-24m rising just 2.5m above the ground.
  • 1907 (July, 11): Louis Bleriot makes his first flight aboard his monoplan VI Libellule.
  • 1907 (November, 5): Léon Delagrange flies aboard a Voisin-Delagrange over 300m in a semicircle.
  • 1907 (November, 17): Alberto Santos-Dumont makes his first flight on the XIX Demoiselle.
  • 1910 (March, 9): Elise Raymonde de Laroche obtains her pilot licence, being the first woman in the world to receive one.
  • 1910 (June): the first metallic plane ever is tested in Issy.
  • 1911 (May): the raid Paris-Madrid was organized, with departure from Issy. Among the 8 pilots taking part in the race was Roland Garros. That day one of the airplanes suffered an accident when taking off, crashing against the authorities and killing the then French war minister, Maurice Berteaux.

It goes without saying, that this shall be a mandatory stop for any aviation enthusiast passing by Paris.

Aviation room at the Gallery of Issy (Musse de las Cartes a Jouer).

Aviation room at the Gallery of Issy (Musse de las Cartes a Jouer).

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Museum of Playing Cards (Paris)

During the past week we spent some days in Paris and we were staying at a hotel in the suburb Issy-Les-Moulineaux (1). One of those days, I had to spend some time while Luca was studying and I decided to go and visit the Musée Français de la Carte à Jouer (French Museum of Playing Cards), which I learnt that same day that it was located just some blocks away from our hotel.

The museum is the only museum dedicated in France to playing cards and one of a few in Europe (apparently it received in 1999 the European prize for the museum of the year). The museum covers the origin of playing cards (certainly from the far East, even if there are different hypothesis), the uses they are given (to play, to learn (to memorize things, to learn to count…), to fantasize (tarot)), some historical facts related to the cards, etc.

At first I thought it would simply cover the playing cards we are used to when playing poker or bridge and explain different games, but I was mistaken. It did not enter into the games themselves, but it covered many other types and variations of cards, used for different games. Think of role plays, think of the cards used in games such as Monopoly, think of theme cards, etc…

As always that one visits a museum I was looking for some practical take away to learn.

  • Taxes: it was Charles V (or I, in Spain) who charged taxes over playing cards for the first time in history, in Castile in 1543. That measure was quickly copied in other countries. In France, those taxes were introduced by Henry III in 1581. In the France right after the revolution a fiscal framework for playing cards was established that lasted till 1945. It reserved to the National Print the right to print in black the cards of the figures… In England it was ace of spades the card that the administration kept the right to print.
  • Spanish playing cards: in the picture below you may see 3 packs of Spanish playing cards, printed by Heraclio Fournier (2). You may notice that the suits are different, using golds-cups-swords-batons instead of spades-hearts-diamonds-clubs. Secondly, you may notice that there are slight differences in the figures are dressed and the symbols are drawn. That is because the 3 different sets use different portraits:
    • (left) today’s called Catalan portrait: that was the old Spain’s national portrait, not used anymore in Spain but the one most often exported (to Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil…).
    • (middle) Cadiz‘ portrait: also derived from the national Spanish portrait but differentiated in kind of clothes used and the inscription “Ahi va” (there it goes!) in the knight of cups. This portrait is also mainly used in exports (Mexico).
    • (right) portrait of Castile: its creation is relatively recent (end of XIX), at the initiative of the company Fournier, and is the one commonly used in Spain nowadays. (3)
Sets of Heraclio Fournier palying cards (printed in Vitoria, Spain).

Sets of Heraclio Fournier playing cards (printed in Vitoria, Spain).

If you happen to be by Issy-Les-Moulineaux, I recommend the visit of the museum (4.5 euros entrance fee).

Finally, the museum includes a documentation centre of the village which includes a small room dedicated to the history of aviation in Issy. This makes the museum a must-see of Paris (4). But I will discuss that in another blog post.

(1) If you are curious (as I was) about the etymology of the name of the village, Issy-Les-Moulineaux, can be found at the corresponding article of the Wikipedia. As a side note: the termination -y in the name of several villages in France is derived from the Latin -acus (“land of”), as Luca explained in her blog post “Ac Alors!“.

(2) There is in Vitoria a playing cards museum related to the company, see information about it here.

(3) I will leave to another day the explanation of my firm belief on the superiority of the Spanish game mus over any other playing card game that the reader may know.

(4) To my taste, at par with the Louvre museum ;-).

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