Cool Stuff in Paris. By Manning Leonard Krull.

Le Défenseur du Temps — the Defender of Time

This wonderful clockwork oddity is hidden in a sort of courtyard in a little shopping center just North of the Pompidou Center...

I used to run past this thing on my way to the gym every morning for two and a half years, and unfortunately it was out of order the whole time (and still is!). I longed to know what sort of mechanical action took place when this thing was operational. Did the dragon roar and snap at le Défenseur? Did our hero wave his sword around? Did that rooster do... something? I suppose that clock/sphere thing did some spinning or something or other. There's also a crab mostly hidden on the right side.

Aha, here we go: according to the great scholar Wikipedia, "... a man perched on a rock with a sword and shield fights against a bird, a dragon, and a crab which respectively represent air, earth, and water. As originally designed, every hour from 9 am to 10 pm, he fights one of the three animals chosen randomly by a program. At noon, 6 pm, and 10pm, all three animals attack at the same time." Wow!

The plaque says, "The Defender of Time. Clock with automata. By Jacques Monestier, commissioned by Cogedim [I looked it up; some sort of real estate company], in 1975. Inaugurated October 8, 1979 by the mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac."

(The other sign, above, says, "Automaton out of order." Well, duh! I guess it's nice that they put this there so you don't wait the better part of an hour hoping to see something.)

To visit le Défenseur du Temps, put yourself on Rue Beaubourg, going North from the Pompidou Center, and turn left on Rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare. Soon you'll come across a little walkway on your left called Rue Brantôme. Head into this little enclosed shopping area and go forward (down some stairs) and make your way toward the right, and you can't miss the sculpture up on the wall ahead of you. Here's a map showing where to go from Rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare.


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