Under its earlier name of the Grande rue d’Auteil, No. 24 was the private house of Mme Helvétius , whose salon from 1772 to 1800 was visited by Diderot, Turgot, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine as well as by Napoléon Bonaparte.
The Auteuil hamlet was close to the vast forest of Rouvray of which today the only remains are the Bois de Boulogne.
Under the Second Empire the house at 59 rue d’Auteuil was owned by the Emperor’s cousin, Pierre Bonaparte, and was where he shot and killed the unarmed young journalist Victor Noir on January 10 1870. Pierre Bonaparte was quickly found not guilty after a trial heard from several conjured up witnesses, while Noir was buried in Neuilly – and only removed as a Republican symbol to Paris’ Père-Lachaise in 1891.
Tens of thousands of outraged republicans, including Louise Michel dressed as a man and carrying a knife, marched in his funeral cortege.
Nothing remains of the superb original building, which was burnt to the ground by the Communards in May 1871. There is now only a huge apartment block at the spot.
However, somewhat ironically, the chemist shop at No. 27, just down the street, where Noir finally died at 2 pm in the afternoon, is now called ‘Body Minute’.
Living further up the street in 1848, at Nos. 63-73, was Louis-Philippe’s vehemently anti-Republican prime minister, François Guizot,.
The convent that took over the old country mansion on the hill overlooking the Seine in 1651 at the prompting of Henriette-Marie de France, the widow of the executed English king Charles I, was abandoned by them in 1789.
On 31 August 1794 the gunpowder factory at Grenelle on the left bank of the Seine exploded with such force that a wing of the palace collapsed. This was France’s most murderous industrial accident, officially killing 536 people but likely to have killed or wounded up to 1,360. The whole palace was then demolished.
The square after which the new palace was named in 1823 followed the capture of the Spanish fortified Trocadero island outside Cadiz, when Louis VIII sent French troops to help put down a revolt against the Spanish Bourbon monarchy.
Through the first half of the 19th century at least 5 major projects were proposed for the site but none realised. Then the hill was flattened for the Universal Exhibition of 1867.
This became a National Guard post during the Commune. Around 1,200 Communard soldiers were killed or captured when Versaillais troops took the battery of canons there on 21 May 1871. From there big artillery pieces were then used to shell the Batignolles and Madeleine areas two days later.
In 1878 the Trocadero Palace was built on the hill for that year’s International Exhibition and this was then extended to become the Palais de Chaillot for the 1937 event.
After the German occupation of Paris in June 1940 a resistance group was created among the staff of the Humanity Museum (Musée de l’Homme) based since 1937 in the Chaillot Palace, producing an underground paper, Résistance. Its anti-fascist director, Paul Rivet, posted Rudyard Kipyard’s poem, If, on the Museum’s front door.
The museum’s librarian, Yvonne Oddon, was instrumental in launching the resistance network, which helped several prisoners of war to escape and provided information on German troop movements.
During this period the group was joined by others outside the museum, including Germaine Tillion, who took over leadership of the network after February 1941, when nearly all of its members were denounced, arrested and ten sentenced to death. While her husband was executed, Oddon and two other women had their sentences suspended and they were deported to German concentration camps.
Immediately after the Second World War, on 25 September 1945, the Palais de Chaillot was the venue for the first congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions, bringing together trade union delegates from 56 countries.
It was next the venue for two sessions of the newly-created United Nations. The 3rd session of the General Assembly took place here from September to December 1948, and the 6th from November 1951 to February 1952.
The Universal Movement for a World Confederation founded in August 1947 in Switzerland campaigned powerfully in Paris during the famous UN 3rd Session. Garry Davis, a former US pilot who announced he had abandoned American nationality in favour of World Citizenship, was visited at his tent outside the Palais de Chaillot by Sartre, Breton, l’abbé Pierre, Gide and many other left celebrities. André Gorz moved to Paris in June 1949 to work in the international secretariat of the Movement for World Citizenship.
On 10 December 1948 this was where the United National General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man. 50 countries voted in favour. Six abstained: Saudi Arabia, opposing gender equality, South Africa, opposing racial equality, while the Soviet Union alongside Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, opposed its definition of universality. Honduras and Yemen did not participate in the vote.
Originally called the ‘Sentier des Arches’ (the arches pathway) and the ‘Rue de Seine’, it next became a section of the rue Wilhelm before finally in 1894 being renamed in honour of the painter Narcisse Diaz (1807-1876), a friend of Gustave Courbet, next to whom in the 1860s he painted several scenes on the Normandy coast.
At No. 7 the street hosts the Clinique Mirabeau founded in 1929 where Trotsky and Natalia Sedov’s activist son, Lev Sedov, showing signs of appendicitis was advised to go in 1938 by his secretary, a secret agent of the Russian NKVD. The clinic’s director an informer for the NKVD was in charge of anaesthetising Sedov. Four days later, on February 18 1938, Sedov (born 1906 in Saint Petersbourg) was dead.
The opened records of the Stalin’s secret police show them congratulating themselves on his death, but some suggest it was not planned, and was due merely the incompetence of the surgeon.
Already an important shopping street in the Passy village in the 19th century, by 1860 its wealthy residents not only had the usual shops selling basic foods, but also clothing and furniture shops, a chemist, an optician and a bookshop.
Proudhon lived at No. 12 from 1861 until his death here on 19 January 1865. There is a rare now very faded plaque above the entrance to a smartphone shop.
This very long street now linking the very wealthy Avenue du President-Kennedy with the Boulevard de Beauséjour was originally part of the Commune of Passy. Named after the nearby Ranelagh Garden it was opened when the lawyer for the estate agent who demolished the Boulainvilliers Château sold off the land in 1825. It was then successively extended between 1854 and 1877.
From the age of two in 1844, Stéphane Mallarmé lived at No. 44 before being sent to a Christian boarding school between the ages of 10 and 13.
On May 22 1871 captured Communards were lined up against a wall in rue Ranelagh and summarily shot.
In the school year following the Popular Front election victory and strike wave of 1936, Simone de Beauvoir spent a year teaching at the Lycée Molière at No. 71.
This secondary school for 14-18 year-old was opened in 1888, the third for young women in Paris. its openinig followed the Camille Sée law, passed in 1880 and given the name of the Jewish deputy for Saint-Denis who succeeded Louis Blanc.
Based in the wealthy west of Paris, attending the Lycée Molière provided an education for many of the French female intellectual and political elite in the first half of the 20th century. It became a mixed school in 1973.
Under the Occupation in 1941, at her home in No. 97 Jean Madeline, working with the interpreter Robert Schilling, as part of the Guédon resistance group printed a newspaper there, Unter Uns, aiming to deliver counter propaganda to German soldiers.
At the very end of the street is a green space that was opened on the land that was once used by the Petite Ceinture railway line whose 32 kilometers used to circle Paris.
The road got its name from an 18th century Irish peer, Lord Ranelagh, who built a domed dance hall rotunda in his Chelsea garden in 1742 that was copied near the Château de la Muette in 1774 and then called ‘le petit Ranelagh’. The Jardin Ranelagh, was created on the lawn of the royal Château by Haussmann in 1860.
Built in 1874 as an offshoot to the Rue de Tour (part of the old rue du Moulin de la Tour at Passy), where he lived briefly at No. 8, Jean Jaurès lived at 96 bis, villa de la Tour from 1899 until his assassination ion 31 July 1914. His body was brought back there that same evening.
The house Victor Hugo lived in and died on 22 May 1885 (now on the site of No. 124) was demolished in 1907. Above the door of the building that replaces it is a mask of Hugo by the sculptor Faulquerau.