Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui

Arrondissement 13

Number 25

Blanqui lived at No. 13 from 1878 until his death in 1881. At that time his address was in the Boulevard d’Italie, which was renamed in 1905

25 Boulevard Auguste Blanqui. This was where Blanqui died in his room on January 1 1881 after returning from a meeting and suffering a brain haemorrhage.


Rue Godefroy

Arrondissement 13

Number 17

In 1826 under Charles X a royal decree allowed the joint owners (M. Geoffroy and M. Godefrey) of land to the south of Paris, to build a 13m-wide road between the Customs Office at the Place d’Italie to the Customs Office at the Gobelins. The street was therefore called rue Godefroy. today it runs from the Place des Alpes to the Place d’Italie.

Zhou Enlai lived at No. 17 in a now demolished hotel from 1922-1924, sharing a room for some of the time with Deng Xiaoping.

A rare plaque on No 17 remembers a revolutionary who became a leading political figure in China and who then participated in many of the regime’s crimes against humanity


Boulevard de l’Hôpital

Arrondissement 5, 13

Numbers: 47, 127, 163

Hospitals often have strange stories to tell. The former gunpowder factory and prison that became the Salpêtrière hospital at No. 47 was where Joseph Ignace Guillotin practised his ‘more humane’ method of execution (than hanging or shooting) on the hospital’s dead bodies on April 15 1792.

Six months after Dr Guillotin was there, 35 women common prisoners held there were murdered in the panic of the September massacres to which the revolutionary Jacobin leaders turned a blind eye.

Six months after Dr Guillotin was there, 35 women common prisoners held there were murdered in the panic of the September massacres to which the revolutionary Jacobin leaders turned a blind eye.

A centre for neurological diseases, this was where André Breton was treated by Dr Joseph Babinski in 1917.

Much further along the Boulevard, on March 25 1920 the future Ho Chi Minh attended an anti-colonial conference based on Lenin’s support for national independence at No. 127.

In the interwar years the Communist Party organised many meetings at the Trade Union Centre at No. 163 of groups such as the Women’s Union, the Humanity Defence Committee and the Red Campers.

The Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière at No. 47 was requisitioned by the Germans in 1940, and was where they used to bring tortured resistance fighters or their dead bodies.

The statue of the neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot erected outside the hospital on December 4 1898 was melted down for guns in 1942 to help the German war effort, as were 100 others under the law of October 11 1941 passed by the Vichy Government.

The Boulevard was the route taken by the 9th company of Leclerc’s 2nd battalion on its way into Paris on 24 August 1944. Among the troops were 130 Spanish republicans whose armoured vehicles had been given names like Guadalajara, Teruel and Guernica.

Much later, this was where France’s first artificial heart was implanted in 1986, nearly twenty years after the first heart transplant in France took place there.

Two years earlier, in 1984, the hospital saw the deaths of two very different contributors to Paris’ left culture: Michel Foucault and Pierre Frank.


Place d’Italie

Arrondissement 13

La Place Emile Duval

The metro station and huge roundabout at the Place d’Italie

The present Place d’Italie stands on the site of two tax collectors’ buildings on the Farmers’ General tax wall built from 1784 to 1791 to increase the tax collectors’ incomes. One of them was burnt down in 1789.

The Fontainebleau gate was the one through which Napoléon Bonaparte  reentered Paris on 21 March 1815 after his return from Elba.

On the 23 June 1848 the first of hundreds of barricades were erected by workers in an insurrection that divided Paris between its wealthier West and its impoverished East.

The Place d’Italie was completed by Haussmann in 1865, leaving the two Farmers’ General tax pavillions in place. A huge barricade was built between them in 871.

At the Place d’Italie, known then as the Fontainbleau barrière barricade was built between the old toll buildings – shown still standing in this 1865 picture. The one on the left was used as the 13th arrondissement town hall from 1860 until 1873 when it was demolished and rebuilt on a much grander scale.

The barricade blocked the principal entrance to Paris from the South.  An army general was killed by the workers as he was attempting to persuade them to surrender. Many of its defenders were then among the estimated 3,000-5,000 workers massacred.

In October 1870, when Thiers began negotiating the surrender of Paris with Bismarck, the town hall was occupied by soldiers of the 101st battalion of the National Guard, who hoisted a red flag over the building.

On April 17 1871 the Paris Commune renamed it La Place Emile Duval after the 31-year-old revolutionary socialist who was captured and shot without trial by the Versaillais on April 4.

The 2016 unofficial renaming of Place d’Italie with the name it was given during the Commune

During the ‘bloody week’ of May 1871 when the Paris Commune was brutally suppressed the barricades here held out until surrounded on all sides. Finally, they succumbed to machine gun fire. A renaming event in honour of all those killed here took place in 2016.

A Café on the Place d’Italie was where Brassai took this picture showing a wonderfully happy woman and a calculating man in 1932

Hazan (IOP) tells the story of the surrealist Brassai’s 1932 photo taken here and ‘titled with a certain cruelty A Pair of Lovers in a Small Paris Café’.

It was the Place d’Italie, too, where Hazan (WTP) records the sculptor Giacometti as being knocked down by a car and being left with a limp for the rest of his life.


Avenue d’Ivry

Arrondissement 13

Avenue d’Ivry in the early 20th century

The avenue d’Ivry runs south to external limit of the 20 arrondissements in today’s Paris. Hazan (WTP) suggests this boundary presents a false image: by confining Paris to the twenty arrondissements, it contributes to the image of a city that is mummified and museum-ified, in which working class life is reduced to a narrow sector.

The Panhard & Levassor factory gate at 19 Avenue d’Ivry in 1900

Hazan (WTP) also explains the origins of the Asian ethnicity of the area: during the First World War, Panhard & Levassor, like Citroen and Renault, employed workers brought from Indochina, or recruited in China, to replace Frenchmen sent to the front. This is said to be the origin of the Chinese quarter in the 13th arrondissement, which grew in the 1970s with the arrival of the “boat people”.

Towards the circular Boulevard Périphérique the Avenue has since the 1990s become a centre of modern business buildings.

Initially called the Rue des Deux Moulins (the Two Mill road) the road at the bottom left of this image was extended to the Boulevard Massena by Haussmann in 1863 and then renamed the Rue Nationale in 1870. This south-facing photograph shows its junction with the Avenue d’Ivry on the right of the red building, built on the site of the Panhard & Levassor factory.

The Ivry-sur-Seine commune to which the avenue leads is just 3.3 miles (5.3 km) from the centre of Paris. Ivry used to stretch down to the Seine and included the land on which the new Mitterrand national French library was build. A third of Ivry was annexed by Paris in 1860.

Hazan (IOP) draws a political line of Resistance Paris based on those who were shot or deported between 1940 and 1944. In Paris it runs from the Porte de Clignancourt to the Porte de Vincennes, broadly the poorest, more working class areas, and then into what became known as the ‘Red Belt’ around Paris, ‘to Montreuil [in the East] and Ivry [to the South East].’

Ivry was the cradle of Municipal Communism. Georges Marrane was its Communist mayor from 1935 to 1965. In the 2017 general election Ivry still voted for the left France Insoumise parliamentary candidate and had a Communist mayor. The Red Belt’s population today is, Hazan (IOP) writes ‘now for the greater part ‘of immigrant origin’, i.e., made up of Blacks and Arabs, the very people (or their relatives) who had been driven out of the city by renovation and rising rents.’


Rue Nationale

Arrondissement 13

Number 79

Initially called the Rue des Deux Moulins (the Two Mill road) the road at the bottom left of this image was extended to the Boulevard Massena by Haussmann in 1863 and then renamed the Rue Nationale in 1870. This south-facing photograph shows its junction with the Avenue d’Ivry on the right of the red building, built on the site of the Panhard & Levassor factory.

Hazan (WTP) describes finding the site of the former Panhard & Levassor factory on the Boulevard Massena at the corner between the Avenue d’Ivry and the Rue Nationale. The 1891 three-level structure has been preserved.

This is not the case with the rest of the area. But even so, unlike most of inner Paris, it has not been gentrified. From the 1970s many migrant boat-people from Vietnam settled in the area between Rue de Tolbiac (to the West), the Rue Nationale (to the North East) and the Avenue d’Italie (to the South).

In 2017, the Marguerite-Durand historical library of gender and feminism, named after the founder of La Fronde in 1897, survived an attempt to close it. Its wealth of archives can be found at 79 Rue Nationale. After nearly two years of works the library re-opens on December 3 2019.


Rue Oudry

Arrondissement 13

Number: 27

Renamed in 1894 after the 18th century animal painter and former director of the Gobelins Tapestry factory, Jean-Baptiste Oudry, the road had been a centre for tanneries for nearly two hundred years.

Trotsky and his family lived and he was arrested at No. 27 in 1916, before being expelled to Spain. His movements were spied upon from a bar round the corner in the Boulevard St. Marcel.


Rue Pascal

Arrondissements 5, 13

Numbers: 1/2, 17, 54, 81

View of Rue Pascal from the Boulevard du Pont Royal c1910

The road was built in 1825 along the course of one of the arms of the Bièvre River on the site of the former Cordeliers convent that was nationalised in the French Revolution and sold to tanning works 1796. The road was named after the 17th century philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal who had lived nearby and who invented the first calculating machine.

The river bed on which it was built was crossed by the Boulevard de Port-Royal in 1866 (a view from the bridge is shown above in and the stream finally covered over in 1905.

Louis-Philippe’s prime minister, François Guizot, banned a democratic reform banquet scheduled for January 13 1848 to take place at what is now No. 54, in the Lourcine-Pascal Hospital, a cholera refuge from 1838 (since 1905 the Broca Hospital) on the site of the former Cordelières Abbey. That meeting was postponed to February 22 to take place in the Champs-Élysées. It is the banning of that meeting that sparked the 1848 February Revolution.

On June 23 1848 violent fighting took place at a barricade between Nos. 1 and 2 and only finished with the defeat of the workers protesting the closure of the National Workshops the following day.

In March 1871 Jean Allemane and other Communards established the 5th arrondissement’s Watch Committee (Comité de vigilance), meeting at No. 17.

In 1902 No. 81 became the Russian Revolutionary Socialist Party‘s library in Paris.