Oct 21, 2016

Save the Gazebo!: Gloriotte


Save the Gloriette de Buffon! It's a very unassuming gloriette -- or gazebo -- and won't do much to shade you from the sun. But it's the location, on the top of a hill right in the Jardin des Plantes, and the history that make it something special.

This gloriette, a classified historical monument that most tourists and even Parisians simply never notice, may not look like much, but it was built between 1786-1788. It's named after Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, who was the superintendent of the Jardin des Plantes at the time and is the oldest all-metal structure in Paris and one of the oldest in the entire world. It was built -- of iron, copper, gold, bronze, and lead -- 50 years before Victor Baltard constructed his famous metal structured buildings at Les Halles (since torn down or relocated), just under 100 years before Gustave Eiffel designed his tower, and just over 100 years before the great metal and glass Grand and Petit Palais were built. It's a gazebo ahead of its time.

And speaking of time, the Gloriette de Buffon used to have a unique time-telling device: At the peak of the roof, it used to have a gong that would mark noon when a horse hair was burned by the sun using a magnifying glass. When the hair (which was replaced each day) would break, it would set off a mechanism that would strike twelve on the gong. Sadly, this ancient Rube Goldberg device has long since disappeared. I feel like it would be a great project for a classroom somewhere to try to reproduce (hint, hint).

I've been up to the gazebo with Anthony and the girls, wending our way up through the hillside labyrinth that surrounds it, to see the view, and to marvel at how lovely it must be for the houses around it to be looking upon the park and gazebo as the view from their living rooms. But I never thought to take a photo while I was there, until I saw this sign, started researching the history of it, and by then it was too late to get up close and personal; access to the labyrinth and gazebo closed earlier this year, when the structure was deemed unsafe for the public due to the effects of pollution, rain, and time. Now, the park is trying to raise the estimated 700,000 to restore the gloriette to its former glory (pun intended).

This (plus the fact that I find a cheese named "Gloriotte"!) gets me noticing a few other gazebos in Paris and in the area. This one below is in the heart of the Jardin de Luxembourg and gets plenty of good use. Here people have dragged over the heavy, hallmark Luxembourg garden chairs to enjoy a mid-week, mid-day, mid-September concert.

A good gloriette is, indeed, glorious, which is why Napoleon III had one painted as a trompe-l'oeil in his apartments at the Louvre.

From a similar 19th century time period, on the grounds of Chantilly castle, we run across gazebos of different shapes and sizes and materials.

THE CHEESE: Gloriotte

Gloriotte is a raw goats' milk cheese whose name, "Gloriotte" very nearly means "gazebo" ("gloriette"). It is, roughly, gazebo-shaped. It's also hat-shaped, bucket-shaped, bell-shaped, plug-shaped, and the shape of a gazillion other common household objects. Gloriotte is made in Bourgogne, and I've also seen photos of it looking rounder, which would also make it baseball-shaped, and globe-shaped.

The cheese is a thick, white-mold-covered cheese, aged for weeks till it's a semi-hard, crumbly, chalky texture. Don't let the word "chalky" make you think I don't like it. This one is delicious in a mild way -- with subtle hints of grasses, flowers, and fruit behind the sweetness of the cream that comes through in each bite. It's good enough that it gets completely devoured during a cheese-meal (that's cheese-as-main-meal, instead of cheese-as-dessert-after-meal) before I can even take a photo of the inside (which, if you're wondering is ivory-colored and looks like cheese).


This connection pretty much writes itself, with a gazebo-shaped cheese named Gloriotte to accompany a story about gazebos, in particular the Gloriette de Buffon. I'm just thanking my lucky stars I didn't stupidly use this cheese for any previous story, because I'd be kicking myself. Can you imagine my frustration at writing a story about a gloriette and not being able to use the cheese named Gloriotte? In fact, I must admit that I had to go back and correct myself throughout this article, thanks to a sharp-eyed reader who noticed that I had written gazebo as gloriotte instead of gloriette. Well, as we like to say in the cheese-writing business, close enough: the cheese is Gloriotte, the gazebo is gloriette. And both are glorious.


  1. Sorry to correct you, but the gazebo is a gloriEtte (still a rather amazing connection with a cheese called "gloriotte"... I must agree )

    1. Thanks -- would you like a job as an editor? I've gone back and corrected it. But even had I spelled it right, I still would have matched this cheese with this story.

  2. Im no expert, but I believe you just made an excellent point. You certainly fully understand what youre speaking about, and I can truly get behind that. best hot tub gazebos


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