Check out them (all new!) knockers

“What makes Paris so special?” I get this question a lot. There’s food, art, centuries of history … and I love the Parisians’ flair for sophisticated simplicity.

But what draws me back again and again is that there’s always something new to discover — if you have an attentive eye. To me, Paris is a master class in seeing.

During our last visit, Esteban demonstrated superhuman patience as I continued my obsession with door knockers.

Knockers 2018 BLOG
These were all new to me, gleaned from streets I’d never explored before.

And why not? The door knockers stir my imagination. I like to wonder about their symbolism, who crafted them, and how many human hands have touched them over the centuries.

St Jacques knocker 1210001 BLOG
The St. Jacques shell motif — symbol of the pilgrimage to Santiago — adorned many homes near the St. Clotilde basilica, an important stop for pilgrims on their way to Spain.

Some are gorgeous little works of art.

Lion knockers 1240649 BLOG

P1210082 CR BLOG

Sculptural knocker 1160881 BLOG

Others are flat-out bizarre, like this dragon-man-lady …

Dragon knocker 1220027 BLOG

… and this menacing face (which reminded me of Christopher Walken).

Christopher Walken knocker 1220479 BLOG

Regardless of their appearance, I like to think about the Parisians who continue to use them and care for them every day, like the gardien of this apartment building in the Latin Quarter.

Door knocker polish 1200140 BLOG

Sometimes the door knockers are missing entirely, victims of rust or theft or thoughtless remodeling.

Missing knocker 1210994 BLOG

But it would be hypocritical to protest too much, because I have remodeling to thank for the door knocker that almost literally fell into my lap after visiting several bouqinistes and brocanteurs to ask where one might find an “heurtoir de porte ancien.”

Our very own knocker 1820851 BLOG

It’s huge and weighs almost three pounds, but it should adorn our front door quite nicely. Also, there is no chance Esteban and I will ever again miss one of our neighbors’ visits (assuming they can lift the hammer).

As an added bonus, while sifting through my photos I noticed it has a fraternal twin somewhere in Paris. Gosh … if only I could remember where!

Twin knocker 1280403 2 BLOG

Looks like I’ve just found my excuse to go back.



    • You’ve said it beautifully: It’s the little details that make cities special. I’ve never been to Prague, but you’re adding to the chorus of friends who are telling me it’s a “must-see.” Thank you so much for stopping by!

    • Well, THERE’s another wonderful, beautiful, history- and charm-filled city I’ve forgotten. Wonderful doors, house fronts, knockers, AND kind people. So wish to visit again; have been twice so far but another visit really would be wonderful. (Although, both times I visited, they had later on floodings and severe damage to the places we stayed in…. sad)

        • I just got back from Paris a week ago today! I’d been there in the winter, spring and fall — but ever in the summer, exactly for the reason you cite. (Thought I *would* kind of like to visit in August, because they keep the towers of Notre Dame cathedral open to visitors after dark …)

          • I meant Prague but yes, Paris gets so packed in the summer. It’s more of a seasonal city anyway: one of the only places that looks better in the rain! Didn’t know that about Notre Dame, will have to check it out.

        • Prague: I can’t remember when exactly I visited, but it surely wasn’t in summer, rather around May – June and maybe September.
          Paris: I live just outside Paris, so visiting never is a problem… 🙂
          If you didn’t ask me, I’m sorry – it’s a bit unclear…..

          • Oh that’s interesting. I don’t know Paris that well, having only gone for short visits. Would you recommend any arrondissement in particular for a more arty atmosphere? Was thinking Montmartre but I’ve been told it’s quite a tourist block these days.

          • Montmartre has indeed lost a bit of its bohemian vibe to tourism, but the Place du Tertre is still a great place to watch artists work — and there are a number of small galleries around that area too. If you’re into finer art, St. Germain des Pres has dozens of more upscale galleries. (I once joined a couple of Spanish art dealers in one of them as they bought a lovely little Matisse sketch.) Or if you’re into emerging artists, Belleville is worth visiting:

            Hope this helps … and thank you as always for stopping by.

    • What a kind compliment, Tom … thank you! No matter how much I see, I always leave Paris hungering for just a bit more.

  1. It is amazing the little details that are just waiting to be noticed. These are so much nicer than the door knocker on my own front door. But then these are in Paris and mine is in Indianapolis. 🙂

    • I’m rather fond of the knocker on your front door, JP — I haven’t seen any other like it (certainly none that say “Cavanaugh” :). But you do kind of have a point that anything one finds in Paris automatically gets a little bit of extra prestige by virtue of its location (compared to, say, Indianapolis or Minneapolis …). 🙂

  2. I LOVE this so much! This is also why I love Paris, the architecture is stunning. I constantly scream tourist because I am so enamored with it. I love these pictures of the door knobs. I myself am obsessed with window boxes and shutters. ❤

    • I used to try to blend in Kate (ha ha … as if I could *ever* pass for a Parisian). But now I embrace my inner tourist by gawking at doors and street lamps and even tiny dogs, without even a hint of shame. As for window boxes and shutters … hmmm. I’m going to have to revisit your posts with new eyes! I wonder if your obsession will be contagious? 😉 xxx

      • Chère Heide, don’t tell me you haven’t also fallen under the charm of windows, window boxes, doors in general, awnings, bollers, ……. 😉
        If not, il will come!!! There are the lamp posts, the métro signs, the house fronts of dwellings squeezed in at the most incredible and fabulous angles, the stark modern next to the charming old, the squares and parks when you expect them least, the allées, tree-lined streets, the tiny courtyards, open to the casual stroller if someone enters or leaves just when YOU pass by…. I could go on forever – Paris (to me anyhow) is not to live in but to visit often and be amazed every single time.

        • Oh, dear Kiki … if I were to list the things I’ve been charmed by we’d be here all week! Although you describe them so poetically that I must print out your list and bring it on my next trip as a “guidebook of things to notice.” I don’t think even an entire lifetime would be enough to take it all in!

          As for those hidden courtyards: I finally got to see a couple I’ve been wondering about for *years*! Expect a post on “the secrets of the rue Chanoinesse” in the not-too-distant future (I hope, work schedule permitting).

          Thank you again for stopping by!

          • Oh, I could easily add a lot more – I’m an eternal ‘seek not, find’er of scurrile, wonderful, unexpected, overlooked and mostly old/scruffy/shabby things. Probably goes well with my age… 😉

          • I had indeed read your between the lines as an eternal seeker and noticer of hidden things. And I join you in finding myself more interested in old/scruffy/shabby things as I get older! For example, that old door knocker I dragged home all the way from France. 🙂

    • Merci infiniment, Suzanne ! I admit I like the poster also because it shows at the same time how similar so many of these knockers seem at first glance, but how different they really are when we take a closer look. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  3. Very nice! Can’t believe you actually photographed all those knockers on your recent trip. I am also fascinated not just by the hardware but by the entrance doors themselves. If only they could talk, what stories they would tell!

    • Isn’t it a pity that those huge portes cochères can’t talk, Mel? I’d be right there with you, enthralled by their stories …

    • You know what I cannot believe Mel?! That Heide was allowed to take all those photos! Hero Husband is screaming murder every time I as much as grab my camera and he is after the first 5 minutes of any trip to anywhere about 3km further advanced than his Dulcinée…. 🙂

      • Lol. 😀 Not sure what kind of camera Heide uses but it helps if you just use your smartphone. You can sneak in a shot before anyone notices. I find it tough in France as you look like some sort of lunatic photographing things on the street. Mais tant pis!

        • I’ve tried using my smartphone surreptitiously, Mel — but I’m terrible at being sneaky and look guilty the whole time, which makes people even more uncomfortable. So I’ve embraced the fact that my husband is going (visibly) to roll his eyes and the French public is going to think I’m a lunatic. One must suffer a bit for one’s art, after all! LOL.

  4. Here I was poised to write “nice knockers” but figured that everyone had already done that “bit”. As I read, I guessed that everyone thought that such a joke would be inappropriate. Then, just above the comment box….oh well.
    Besides that, nice eye for detail and a nice collection. It would have made a nice designer piece.

    • There’s nothing wrong with going for the obvious joke, Anthony — especially when I give you such an obvious set-up. But thank you for helping us keep this a family-appropriate blog. 🙂 Glad you liked the collection!

    • You know Anthony, your comment is just what I thought would be made (earlier as you also said!)…. Thanks, made me smile too

  5. These are beautiful. I am intrigued by knockers also. They make a door so dignified. Photographing door knockers sounds like a perfectly legitimate excuse for travel.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who has fallen under the spell, V.J. — and thank you for confirming the legitimacy of my travel! If my boss protests when I tell him about my next trip, I will show him your comment and say, “See? Perfectly legitimate. It’s right here in writing!” 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by …

  6. This is so wonderful! I’m totally with you on the your remark that Paris is always and every single time able to offer eye candies by te galore….. I have tons of photos of door knockers too, from Switzerland’s old towns, from Devon UK where literally everybody had them and rarely a bell button (at least in all those Victorian piles I so loved and lived in), in France, bien sûr, but also in Portugal, Spain, Italy and probably other countries too I visited and photographed!
    What I ‘sort of’ liked best was the mosaic with all the models AND then the detailled photos underneath. The mosaic is a ‘quick fix’ and leads to go and study the individual ones at a more leisurely pace.
    I’m very happy for you to have found one for your own home – congratulations…. Have a VERY GOOD week – I know I’m neglecting you but there will hopefully be a time when I can come back and browse with more time at my hands and more strength in my eyes.

    • How wonderful that you also notice these little details when you travel, Kiki (not surprising, since you have a very keen eye!). Isn’t it fun to note the regional differences? For example, in Venice it seems hardly anyone has a door knocker anymore, in favor of more modern intercoms that look like faces to me. I’ll have to see if I can dredge up some of those photos for you …

      And thank you also for your congratulations on having found my own knocker. It really did feel like an accomplishment, after all the legwork I did. Seeing it will invoke a small universe of people I talked to and shops I visited, which is a whole story in itself.

      Thank you for stopping by, and I wish YOU a very lovely week also!

  7. I’m reading about a photographer who visited different cities and with each chose one subject to photograph, which they felt were symbolic of that city. Sounds like you’re almost doing the same here for Paris.

    I love the picture of the missing door knocker – it makes us ask even more questions, what did it look like, why was it removed, where is it now…

    I think picking one object is an excellent idea in honing our photographic eyes and learning to better see the details that most people walk by without a second glance.

    • I loved the missing door knocker too, Dan — even if it’s a classic example of a photo that can’t stand on its own without at least a bit of context.

      And you’re absolutely right that focusing our attention on a single object or theme can be an excellent way to sharpen our visual awareness. It’s one of my favorite exercises when I’m feeling “stuck.”

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I’m honored you found this of interest.

    • Oh, how marvelous! Thank you for sending the link, Penelope — it really is fascinating to see the historical influences in Spain’s architecture.

  8. LOL, your post title 😀 I wonder how many perverts popped in, only to be disappointed, snicker ! Good one!!
    Magnificent observations Heidi ! You’re so right, each knocker is a little work of art. I’m a little taken aback by the vampire/winged dragon knocker. That might be a major determent to soliciting at that door. I should get me one, lol. Sadly, we rarely answer our bell in the evening. We used to, when we first moved in. But soon learned it’s always someone wanting a donation or to sell a ticket or subscribe to something. All valid requests but as Jim’s company matches our charitable contributions, we actually *do* give at the office.

    I often take photo’s of doors on holiday too. For much the same reason. I like to think of all the people who travel through them over the centuries. Maybe it’s a small insight to the homeowner too when they paint their door bright red, or hot pink. I think they probably have a good sense of fun about life.

    Amazing that your door knocker has a twin in Paris!! How perfectly posh is that? I once had a wood pecker door knocker at our lake house back door. You pulled a string and it’d peck at the plaque. LOL, what does that say about me? 😀 eep! retorical question, no need to summize…LOL xx

    • Given the amount of hard-core stuff on the Interwebs, I’d be surprised if anyone would search for “knockers.” Though I suppose it’s possible there is at least one seriously disappointed (and probably scarred-for-life) 12-year-old boy out there. Sorry, little fella! LOL.

      I do like your idea of putting a really creepy knocker on the front door to dissuade canvassers, though. Maybe an alien head, or a skull? Gosh. Now you have me wishing I’d employed that gargoyle-looking thing, just to prove that I WILL NOT BE INTIMIDATED. Sigh. I’ll add it to the list for next time! 🙂

      But mostly I’m really glad to hear I’m not the only one with these weird photo obsessions. Not at home, of course! Only when I travel. Which is probably a good thing because the neighbors already think I’m weird enough as it is. 😉

      As for your woodpecker door knocker: “Paging Dr. Freud!” Haha! It sounds adorable, actually. Hopefully it was less annoying than the real thing?

      Anyway … thank you for stopping by and for making my day with your hilarious and kind comments. xx

  9. Memories of a bygone era. Wonderful attention to detail and beautiful artistry for something so mundane. When things were made with pride and designed to last. Did you wander through Faubourg St Antoine where many of the artisan craftsmen are?

    • I did indeed wander through Faubourg St Antoine, Mr. Draco! Wonderful question — you’re clearly in the know! Alas, as the area becomes gentrified many of the workshops are giving way to little boutique shops. The shops are charming in their own right, but lack some of the old-school grittiness that gave this area so much character. Oh, well … the only constant is change, right?

  10. Some of them are really impressive aren’t they?! I just thought, I haven’t got a door knocker 🤔… just a modern door with a door bell lol. I feel I’m missing out… no character! Haha x

    • Some of them are indeed impressive, Alicia! That’s what happens when people turn everyday objects into status symbols, I guess. But don’t feel *too* bad for having a door bell — it’s also a status symbol to have electricity, LOL. Thank you for stopping by and for bringing a smile with your kind comment!

    • Agreed! It’s too bad we don’t know the names of the artists who crafted these, but noticing them is at least a small homage to their work.

  11. I love the lion knocker. There is a tragic story of a lion tricked into a life of servitude. I noticed the characters of the doors in London too, but was intimidated to photograph them.

    • I’ve never heard this story about the lion, Jolly Bison … now you have me wondering whether there’s a connection there. And I do hope next time you’re in London you’ll feel a little bit less intimidated about taking photographs! It’s these little architectural details that make a city great, after all …

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

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