Quartier de l’Horloge

Quartier de l’Horloge flanks the northern side of the Pompidou Centre.

Quartier de l'Horloge - One of the entrances on Rue Beaubourg
One of the entrances on Rue Beaubourg

The Rues St-Martin, Rambuteau, Grenier-St-Lazare and Beaubourg encompass it.

It was developed in the 1970s and is essentially pedestrian.

The layout of the Quartier de l’Horloge recreates the layout of the previous district and consists of six and seven-storey buildings.

Narrow lanes and arched passageways run through the buildings and interconnect a series of small courtyards.

Proximity shops, burgers and pizza shops and inexpensive bookstores border them.

This unusual enclave is like a village in the city.

It is linked to the ‘outside’ by symbolic gates.

Le Défenseur du Temps – Clock

Le Defenseur du Temps (The Time Keeper) left its name to the Quartier de l’Horloge.

The artist Jacques Monestier designed the unusual animated metal clock (horloge).

The Mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac inaugurated it on October 8, 1979.

Quartier de l'Horloge - Le Defenseur du Temps
Le Defenseur du Temps

The clock is mounted on a wall at no8 Rue Bernard de Clairvaux.

However, it has not been in service since 2003!

This is what you would have seen and heard if you had visited the district before that date:

On the hour, the life-size sculpture of a man, perched on a rock and armed with a sword and a shield alternatively, fought a dragon, a bird and a crab.

These animals symbolize the elements Fire, Air and Water.

Three strokes marked each hour.

On every hour between 9am and 10pm the man fought one of the three animals randomly chosen by the automatic programmer.

He then fought the three animals at once when noon, 6pm and 10pm stroke.

As he fought, you could hear the sound of the waves, the rumbling of the Earth and the hissing of the Fire.

This impressive 4m high clock weighs a ton.

The sculptures are made from hammered brass and gold leaf and the rock base from oxidized brass.

A radio-controlled clock and CD players respectively replaced the quartz system and the tape recorders in 1995.

However, Le Défenseur du Temps sadly stopped stroking the hours on July 1, 2003 due to lack of maintenance funds.

Directions: 3rd district
Metro: Rambuteau on Line 11
Coordinates clock: Lat 48.862002 – Long 2.352732

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