Place de la République

Arrondissements 3, 10, 11

Numbers: 12

A small square close to the present huge open space first appeared in the 17th century soon after the 14th century Charles V wall and its Temple gate were knocked down. It became known as the Château-d’Eau square after 1811 when Napoléon Bonaparte inaugurated a huge fountain surrounded by lions there to celebrate his opening of a much-needed aqueduct bringing fresh water to Paris from the North.

The Chateau d’Eau fountain stood from 1811 to 1867 in the Place du Chateau d’Eau that was enlarged in 1854 and finally became the Place de La République in 1879. Cast in iron by the Creusot factory, supplier of canons first to the young Republic and then to Napoleon, the fountain was moved to La Villlette in 1867.

The square witnessed a left demonstration on June 13 1849 against the prince-president Louis Napoleon’s decision to declare war on the Rome Republic. Ledru-Rollin and another 30 deputies marched from the Square, hoping unsuccessfully to secure widespread popular support – something they failed to get because of mistrust over Ledru-Rollin’s involvement in the 1848 June Days insurrection.

Haussmann’s aim to subdue the most working class and militant north-eastern area of Paris created the huge public square we recognise today.

In 1855 Haussmann ordered the building of the huge Prince Eugène barracks at No. 12 behind the fountain. It was big enough for 3,200 soldiers. This postcard dates from the 1900s. The barracks was renamed the Vérines barracks in 1947 after its former Republican Guard commander who was shot by the Germans for his resistance activities in 1943. The barracks was the last German stronghold to surrender in Paris on August 25 1944.

Planning to make troop movements through Paris easier, in 1857 Haussmann approved the knocking down and building through of what are today the Boulevard Voltaire (at the time the Prince-Eugène Boulevard) and the Avenue de la République.

From 1865 the square began to take its present dimensions becoming a rectangular square 280m long by 120m wide. In 1867 a second much bigger fountain with 8 bronze lions around it spitting water was planned for the square (it is now in the Place Félix-Éboué) and the first fountain was moved to supply water to the cattle waiting to be slaughtered at the new livestock market at La Villette. Built between 1860 and 1867 the giant La Villette meat market replaced five other big Parisian slaughter house centres (at Montmartre, Menilmontant Roule, Grenelle and Villejuif).

On May 30 1878 some 6,000 demonstrators staged an illegal demonstration in the square demanding the freedom of all France’s political prisoners. This was one of the first steps in winning the amnesty for the imprisoned, deported and exiled Communards in 1879.

In 1879 the square was given its present name. A competition was also held for a grand monument dedicated to the Republic to be erected in the square. This was won by the Morice borthers. On July 14 1880 a plaster model was inaugurated in the square and the bronze version was inaugurated three years later.

A minority on the competition jury so strongly defended the proposal made by the newly-returned Communard, Jules Dalou, that in 1880 his model was chosen to be put in the Place de la Nation.

Some of Paris’ most important demonstrations have taken place in the Square. On February 9 1934 the Communist Party organised a demonstration starting at the Gare du Nord and marching to the Square.

Three days after the attack on the National Assembly by the fascists, calling for the outlawing of the right-wing leagues and for a government of workers and peasants. It was banned by the government and attacked by the police. The most significant thing about the demonstration was that many socialist workers also responded to the events of February 6 1934 by joining the communist demonstration. This was the real beginning of the Popular Front.

On July 14 1935 the North African Star movement held up the Algerian flag for the first time during the Bastille Day demonstration in the Square.

On May Day 2002 hundreds of thousands filled the Square to protest against Jean-Marie Le Pen of the fascist National Front getting through to the second round of that year’s presidential election.

The Square was also full two days after the machine gun attacks of November 13 2015 as Parisians showed their determination not to give in to terrorism.

Despite fear that the Bataclan terrorists might strike again, tens of thouands filled the Place de la Republique two days after the murders of 130 people and the wounding of another 413.

One week later a solidarity demonstration with undocumented migrants and against the State of Emergency took place from the Place de la Bastille to the Place de la Republique.

Solidarity demonstration on Noveber 22 2015 for the sans-papiers and against the state of emergency. Harrassed by police from start to finish it finally arrived at the Square

Two weeks after France’s biggest terrorist attack since the German occupation, the March for the Climate to take place demanding stronger action from the COP21 international conference was also banned under the November 20 State of Emergency. This did not prevent more than ten thousand demonstrators taking to the street.

The police started arresting demonstrators in the Place de la Republique on Sunday afternoon November 29 2015 after their demonstration calling for real climate action from COP21

By the early afternoon on November 22 2015 the 3-5,000 demonstrators still at the Square protesting the infringement of their freedom were tear-gassed and attacked with sound grenades by the police, who made 341 arrests and kept 317 of the protestors overnight.

Still under the State of Emergency, massive trade union demonstrations against the socialist President Hollande’s liberalising labour law measures began. Disillusion with the so-called ‘Socialist’ government sparked anger and a new social movement. After a massive day of demonstrations on March 31 2016, a number of leftists decided to meet in the Place de la République, and not to disperse, but to stay on and sleep there.

The Nuit Debout movement was born. The photograph at the top of this article was taken in April. Every evening at 6 pm people – mainly young people – would meet at the Square, often voting on different issues, and some would sleep there. In June, after the labour law reform had been passed by the government, the meetings got smaller and smaller and fizzled out.

Steve photographed the base of the Nuit debout protest during the day on April 14 2016. It was still covered with the slogans and placards from the 2015 anti-terrorist demonstrations

In the 2020s the Square remains the focal point for demonstrations linked to the real demands for freedom, equality and humanity.

I found this image stencilled on a wall close to the Place de la Republique on April 14 2016

One website that keeps Parisians informed on what demonstrations are taking place now in the Place de la Republique and other places in Paris is Demosphere.




Rue des Archives

Arrondissement 3

Numbers: 48, 58, 76

The Brasserie du Commerce and its Auger Restaurant at No. 48 were a regular meeting place for left groups in the mid and late 1930s. The Young Socialists (Jeunesses socialistes), ‘Bolshevik-Leninists around ‘Truth‘, and the Communist-dominated Secours Rouge (Red Cross) that changed its name to Secours populaire (People’s Help) all used to meet there.

It was at the Brasserie du Commerce that Marceau Pivert, Daniel Guérin and the Luxemburgist René Lefeuvre drew up the constitution of the ‘Revolutionary Left’ tendency within the SFIO on September 25 1935.

No 48 was also the place where Pivert’s new left revolutionary socialist party, the PSOP, decided to exclude the small numbers of Trotskyists including Lambert who had started to ‘enter’ it in 1939.

In 1808 the National Archives were placed in the Hôtel de Clisson at No. 58. It was built first in 1371 (its turreted gateway survives) and then acquired by the Duke of Guise who changed the name to the Hôtel de Soubise.

One of the barricades erected during the brief insurrection of May 12 1839 by the Seasons Club led by Blanqui and Barbes was based at No. 76, across the road at what was then the junction of 18 Rue du Grand Chantier with the Rue Pastourelle.

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Rue Beaubourg

Arrondissement 3

Number 62 (site of 12 Rue Transnonain)

On the site of No 62 on April 14 1834 the dozen occupants of a house in the now demolished Rue Transonain were massacred in their beds by King Louis-Philippe’s troops

In 1830 Louis-Philippe was presented the crown of France by the timid reformers who had been pushed into presiding over the downfall of Charles X. But they were not able to suppress the republican pressure to get rid of the monarchical system of privileges and power that was particularly strong in urban areas.

In Lyon on 9 April 1834 a demonstration protesting against new authoritarian laws inhibiting press freedom that was organised by the Society for the Rights of Man and by the Executive Committee of the local workers friendly societies led to mass rioting that appeared to be building up to an insurrection.

Barricades started to appear in Paris on 13 April 1834 and Louis Philippe’s government decided on savage repression. After an infantry captain was wounded by a shot from a window near a barricade in the Rue Transnonain every person found in the house from which the soldiers thought the shot had been fired was killed (12) or wounded (24) (with the victims including old men and women as well as children).

The ‘butchery of Rue Transnonain’ was captured, famously, by Honoré Daumier in a print that could not be censored and became an instant success as well as a tribute to Daumier’s art and politics.

Daumier sketched the 14 April 1834 massacre of men, women and children at 12 rue Transnonain by Louis-Philippe’s troops


Rue Béranger

Arrondissement 3

Numbers: 3, 5, 25-26

Door of No 5
Door of No 5

Renamed in 1864 under Napoleon III in honour of the song-writer Pierre-Jean de Béranger whose songs under the Bourbons had often praised the achievements of Napoleon 1, Béranger himself had lived and then died in a top floor flat at No. 5 when the road was called the Rue de Vendôme.

The name Vendôme used from about 1694 was because Philippe de Vendôme was the head of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem that ran the nearby huge Templar Knights estate and tower.

Ironically, the 1964 renaming took place in the same year that one of the main figures with Henri Tolain behind the ‘Manifesto of 60 Working Men, Joseph Perrachon, was living at No. 3. The Manifesto was describe by Marx as ‘The first Class charter by a French working class movement on the way to becoming adult‘. Perrachon was one of those who then founded the International Workingmen’s Association.

Fierce fighting took place in the road on May 24 1871, when a barricade from Nos. 25 to 26 was finally taken by some Versaillais troops approaching it from the Boulevard du Temple.


Rue de Bretagne

Arrondissement 3

Numbers: 14, 39, 49, 62, 71

The road was named ‘Brittany’ after a never completed project of Henry IV to build a great square into which several streets would run, each with the name of a different province. After two streets were merged in 1851 the road is nearly half a kilometre in length. The even-numbered side of the road was demolished in 1920 to widen the road to its present width.

No. 14 was where the first issue of the centre-left newspaper Libération was prepared and published on April 18 1973.

The oldest covered market in Paris at No. 39, the Market of the Red Children (Le marché des Enfants Rouges), was established in 1628 near an orphanage whose children were dressed in red, the colour of charity). During the ‘Bloody week’ at the end of the Paris Commune in May 1871 the market was fortified and defended.

On January 2 1910 Lenin attended a revolutionary ‘goguette‘ – a kind of drinking + sing-song / poetry-and-literature dinner with roughly 20 people – organised by La Muse Rouge in a room on the first floor of No. 49. We don’t know if he was accompanied by Krupskaya or Inessa.

No 49

The venue (shown in the photograph taken in the 1910s) was the Third arrondissement’s communal building. At the time there were hundreds of these goguette events being organised regularly in Paris. The Muse Rouge theatre group was expelled by the PCF in 1925.

By 1921 the building included the office of the Paris Federation of the SFIO (Socialists) and this was where Breton and Aragon came to apply to join the new French Section of the Communist International, less than a week after the majority of socialists had voted at the Tours Congress to affiliate to the Third International.

In 1922 the cooperative workers’ restaurant and café La Famille Nouvelle based at No. 49 was visited by many leftists including Ho Chi Minh. Many left events took place, including monthly dinners of the Revolutionary Esperantists, who were entertained by the Socialist Federation’s choir.

On September 1 1939 Palmiro Togliatti was arrested by the French police and taken to the Police Station at No. 62. They didn’t find out his true identity and he was jailed only for holding false papers and finally released in February 1940.

In the bloody week of May 1871 a barricade across the road at No. 71 defended by the 86th National Guard battalion mounted strong resistance to the Versaillais troops. This was also the address where Sylvain Maréchal, who drafted the Equality Manifesto of April 1796 is supposed to have lived.


Rue Commines

Arrondissement: 3

Numbers: 10, 15

Named in 1864 after Philippe de Commynes, the road was built through the site of the Convent of the Daughters of Calvary in 1804, when it was first called the rue Neuve de Ménilmontant,

When Marx arrived in Paris in March 1848 he stayed in the offices of the German Communist League at No. 10. While there he met Engels and Ferdinand Flocon, a member of the new Provisional Government like the Worker Albert. Marx left Paris after the defeat of the June insurrection.

In 1839 Albert was living at No. 15 when he was one of the leaders of the Four Seasons Club organised by Blanqui and Barbes.


Rue des Francs-Bourgeois

Arrondissements 3, 4

Numbers: 14-16, 25, 43, 50, 60, 61

The road gets its name from the alms houses for the respectable poor whose income was too low to pay taxes – the ‘road of the too poor to pay tax bourgeois’. They were built where Nos. 32 to 36 are today, probably in the 17th century. Before then it was called the road of old pulleys (Rue des Viez-Poullies). Part of the the road was renamed the Rue des Francs-Citoyens during the French Revolution.

The road still shows off several of Paris’ oldest buildings and now separates the third and fourth arrondissements. At Nos. 14-18 you find the Carnavalet Museum of Paris’ historical collections the museum’s official address is at No. 23 Rue de Sévigné. No. 25 is the best-preserved 16th century Hôtel de Lamoignon, now a public library of the history of Paris. There are vestiges of the Philippe august wall at Nos. 31-33 and No. 57 and several other grand town houses.

On May 12 1839 what was then the Town Hall of the 7th arrondissement at No. 43 was caputred by the Society of Seasons insurrectionaries. Barbès, Blanqui, Martin Bernard and Albert Laponneraye are all linked to its seizure.

When the SFIO and then PCF theoretician Charles Rappoport first arrived in Paris from Russia in 1895 he lived at No. 50.

The magnificent private mansion built on the site of the Hôtel de Guise at No. 60 was known as the Hotel de Soubise. It became the National Archives in 1794 and was saved from being burnt down by shell fire from the Versaillais troops attacking the barricade at No. 61, and by the 125th battalion of the National Guard of the on May 25 1781 by Louis-Guillaume Debock and André Alavoine. They were later pardoned for their support of the Commune because of their actions that day.

While he was studying at the Lycee Charlemagne in the 1880s, Leon Blum lived as a boarder in the Rue des France-Bourgeois.


Rue aux Ours

Arrondissement 3

Number 19

The street rue aux Ours was named after the geese (oues in old French) that used to be roasted there. Over time this evolved to ours. Pictured here at the corner with the rue Quincampoux, it is first recorded in 1297 and was named after an individual who lived there.

The street was named after the geese (oues in old French) that used to be roasted there. Over time this evolved to Ours.

Auguste Blanqui was shot in the neck at the corner of the rue aux Ours with rue Quincampoix in a street celebration of the Paris Republican electoral victory of November 1827.


Rue Portefoin

Arrondissement 3

Number: 17

Rue Portefoin

A short, narrow road, in 1282 it was first opened by the Knights Templar as the Rue Richard-des-Poulies. Soon afterwards a wealthy man Jean Portefin built a private mansion there and its name was changed to Portefin, and in the 17th century to Portefoin.

No. 17 is the house where Honoré de Balzac lived in 1819, just up the road from Madame de Berny, his mistress at No. 3. Shown on the left of the Google Streetview image above, No. 17 became the agreed meeting place of the French Socialist Unity Committee after the Second Unity Congress held in the Salle Wagram in September 1900.

In January 1902 Allemane finally left the committee because Jaurès‘ daughter had gone to communion, and Alexandre Millerand had attended the September 1901 reception for the Russian Tsar Nicholas II.


Rue Quincampoix

Arrondissement 3, 4

No-one knows reliably the origin of the name of this really old road. It was already called the rue Quiquempoist in 1292.

Looking up rue Quincampoix from the corner with rue aux Ours, where Blanqui was shot in the neck in 1827

From a left point of view it is notable simply because you can imagine Blanqui and other young men using the narrow street to their advantage when fighting the cavalry and soldiers in November 1827. That was where, on the corner with the rue aux Ours that Blanqui was shot in the neck at the demonstration against Charles X that took place celebrating the high vote for Republican candidates in the Paris elections.

This was also the street where in preparation for the 1839 Four Seasons insurrection,
Barbès had left a trunk of cartridges with a friend, Mme Roux. She wasn’t at home on the afternoon of Sunday May 12 when the insurrection was launched, so Barbès broke down the door to get hold of it. He then led a few hundred of the insurrectionists down the street and to the banks of the Seine shouting ‘Down with Louis-Philippe – Long live the Republic‘.

Looking to the West along the rue Quincampoix from the rue des Lombards. This is the direction from which Barbès and his column of armed insurrectionists marched down on May 12 1839. This photograph was taken by Brassai in 1932


Rue Rambuteau

Arrondissements 1, 3, 4

Numbers: 19, 54, 102, 108

Rambuteau around 1900

The road runs West to East from the Sainte-Eustache church (shown above at 6 am in the morning in 1900 looking up the road from the northern edge of Les Halles) to the Rue des Archives.

Building began in 1838 and in 1839 it was formally named the Rue Rambuteau to honour the Seine department Prefect from 1833 to 1848. Claude-Philibert Barthelot de Rambuteau who initiated its construction with the widening of streets in central Paris to 13m.

The kilometre-long east-west was conceived after the 1832 cholera epidemic had proved the case made by the hygienists to pull down many of the Paris’ narrow medieval streets. Its tearing up a sizeable area of old Paris stimulated one of the first Parisian housing speculation spikes.

One of the original Rambuteau-prescribed street number tiles (white numbers on a blue background) is still above the door at No. 58

One of the streets knocked down and merged into the road was the Rue de la Chanverrerie where, at the junction with Rue Mondétour, at approximately No. 102 Rue Rambuteau, a barricade was built on June 6 1832. This was where Victor Hugo placed the Caberet Corinthe and the death of Enjoiras in Les Misérables.

Several other barricades appeared in the road in the early days of the February Revolution and again during the June days of 1848. Fighting also broke out on December 3 1851 as some tried to resist the seizure of power by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. 

The cafe on the corner with the Rue du Temple at No. 19 used to be a favourite restaurant of Russian Nihilist exiles in the late 19th century. Trotsky and Lenin met there early in 1903.

On April 28 1848, after the shift against radical republicanism, Armand Barbès held a meeting of the Club de la Revolution at No. 54, the home of Citizen Furet. Barbès had set up as a more ‘moderate’ alternative to Blanqui‘s more insurrectional Société républicaine centrale, and this meeting discussed the election results and set in motion the attempted insurrection of May 15.

A personal interest of mine is that No. 108 was built on the birthplace of the adventurer cum comic poet Jean-François Regnard. On August 10 1779 his name was given to the second shortest-street in Paris next to the newly-built Odéon Theatre. This street was where my father James Jefferys (1914-1996) lived nearly half his life.

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Rue Réaumur

Arrondissements 2, 3

Numbers: 57, 90, 100, 111

One of the 22 metre-wide roads hammered through the old medieval street network of central Paris under Baron Haussmann from 1854 to 1858. It absorbed some of the ancient streets it went through and destroyed others. Its final section, westwards from the rue St Denis, was only opened in 1897.

The road was named after the biologist René Antoine de Réaumur (1683-1757) because ot its proximity to the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, some 50 metres going north where the road crosses the Rue de St Martin.

Léon Blum was moved round the corner from his birthplace in rue St Denis to No. 57 when he was a young boy.

A member of the Paris National Guard and of the International Workingmen’s Association, Jacques Durand, lived at No 90 (at the time No. 8 rue Thévenot). A cobbler who had stood as an IWMA candidate in the February 8 1871 elections he was elected by the 2nd Arrondissement to the Paris Commune on April 21. On May 25 1871 after fighting ended in the area he was arrested at home, interrogated at the Town Hall of the arrondissement, and then taken to the back of the Notre-Dame des Victoires church and shot.

From 1924 to 1940, the editorial office and printworks of what was then a right-wing paper, ‘L’Intransigeant‘ that was edited by André Malraux in 1934, were at Nos. 98-100.

Outside the printing works and offices at No.100 in 1927 when an American film star came to Paris

After the June 1940 Occupation of France the building housed a German press centre from 1940-1944, and was targeted several times by the Resistance.

After Liberation in 1944 No. 100 became the offices and printshop of the papers Franc-Tireur and the Défense de la France that eventually became France-Soir.

The L’Algérie libre paper of Messali Hadj’s Mouvement pour le triomphe des libertés démocratiques was also printed at No. 100 from its launch at the end of 1948 until its suppression in November 1954. On June 17 1950 sellers of the paper were arrested, and on September 18 1950 when the edition of the paper was seized for the first time, a protest demonstration led to the arrests of 1,100 Algerians who came to protest outside the printworks.

The newspaper Jean Jaurès co-edited at No. 111 in 1898, La Petite république, was France’s widest circulation socialist paper in the 1890s. This was where he published ‘The Proofs’ of the innocence of Dreyfus.

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Rue Saint-Gilles

Arrondissement 3

Numbers: 12

If you happened to look like Gustave Courbet, or other well-known supporters of the Commune, on 24 May 1871 you could have been shot on the spot by the Versaillais troops – as happened to one unfortunate man in the 2nd arrondissement at 11, Rue de la Banque.

It was very dangerous to have even the closest resemblance to France’s best known painter in 1871

Courbet himself went into hiding at a musical instrument maker friend of his at No. 12 Rue St Gilles. This was where he was arrested on June 7 1871. The building had formerly been the Venice Embassy in Paris, and since very few people know this, I can also let you know that Jean-Jacques Rousseau spent a year working in the French embassy to Venice in 1743 to 1744.

No 12 St Gilles the former Venice embassy in Paris

In 1640 the narrow road was named after a statue of Saint Gilles placed at the end of the road, initially called the New St Gilles road.

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Rue de Saint-Martin

Arrondissement 3

Nos 1-2, 8, 30, 78, 135, 145, 159, 270

Delacroix shows all social classes supporting the July Revolution of 1830

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) showed his bare-breasted Liberty-Marianne in a Phrygian cap walking across a barricade thought to have been at 8 Rue de Saint-Martin in his iconic painting Liberty guiding the People. He wrote to his brother soon after the July 1830 Glorious Revolution:

‘I’ve embarked on a modern subject—a barricade. And if I haven’t fought for my country at least I’ll paint for her.’

Delacroix’s painting was shown in the Salon of 1831 and bought by the French government. Its intention was to hang it in the throne room of the Luxembourg Palace. But after the June 1832 insurrection it was returned to Delacroix as being ‘too revolutionary’. It was only exhibited again briefly after the February 1848 Revolution, and then next in the Salon of 1855.

John, the designer of Left in Paris, borrowed from Delacroix the bearded rifle-wielding bourgeois revolutionary and the pistol-waving working-class teenager seen on our menu pages.

Hazan (WTP) tells us that the two-day 1832 Republican insurrection that followed the dispersal of the huge crowd behind a red flag at the Republican General Lamarque’s funeral on June 5 saw the first use of artillery against Parisian insurgents. The demonstrations followed opposition deputies accusing the government of breaking its promises and refusing to support oppressed people like those in Poland.

George Sand painted by Delacroix in 1838, about the time she was working on the novel referring to Rue Saint-Martin

There were three barricades protecting the Rue de Saint Martin headquarters of the Republicans at what was then number 30. Writing a novel about the events ten years later George Sand makes this address the home of her working-class hero.

The reality was that the defenders of the 1832 barricades killed around 75 soldiers and National Guardsmen sent by Louis-Philippe. Over 90 insurgents were killed, 200 wounded and 1,500 prisoners were taken. Eighty-two people were subsequently deported.

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables fiction places Gavroche’s death at 107 Rue de Saint Martin at the barricade with the Rue Aubry le Boucher. In his Comédie humaine Balzac (1799-1850) has the republican Michel Chrestien killed at the Rue Saint-Merri barricade across the street.

Louis-Auguste Blanqui’s first insurrectionary attempt was made in 1839 with the Society of the Seasons, and its first barricade built was across the entrance to the Rue de Saint Martin, from numbers 1 to 2 on 12 May 1839. The conspirators used to meet in a wine seller’s shop at 10 Rue de Saint Martin.

Blanqui and Armand Barbès were also present at what was probably the most important barricade erected in 1839, at number 78 Rue de Saint-Martin, the St Merry barricade. Barbès was wounded outside number 248 and arrested at the end of the insurrection.

Another barricade appeared at the beginning of Rue de Saint-Martin during the workers’ uprising against the closing down of the schemes for unemployed workers on 23 June 1848.

In July 2018 I spent a couple of days at a sociological conference at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers at 270-272 Rue St Martin. A 19th century costumed film was being shot there using the 19th century buildings as a backdrop, with a portable guillotine added for good measure. Strange to think that Karl Marx supposedly gave a speech there on March 5 1848 to the Central branch of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen Club immediately after his explusion from Brussels.

The Conservatoire (before 1794 the priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs) was also the location of the National Convention organised by Ledru-Rollin a year later, on 13 June 1849, to try and stop the war on the Republic of Rome.

Further up the street, the old Molière Theatre at No 159 provided a venue for many meetings and organisations. Ledru-Rollin and Barbès were among those who held meetings of the Revolutionary Committee for the elections to the Constituent Assembly in March 1848. On November 14 1869 the Parisian Federation of Workers Societies was formed there.

During the bloody week of May 1871 the Conservatoire was fortified, and the last fighter is supposed to have been a woman defending it with a machine gun. Another barricade that saw fierce fighting was built at 145 Rue de Saint-Martin.

One of the 600 barricades built in August 1944 in answer to the FFI call to make German troop movements in Paris as difficult as possible

The street’s cobblestones again came in handy in August 1944. One photograph looking down Rue St Martin shows the barricade built outside number 135 (now next to a Monoprix shop). It was one of some 600 built in Paris after the resistance FFI (French Forces of the Interior) called for them to be built on August 19 to stop German troop movements.

Today, the left side of the street exists no longer: it was demolished to make room for the Beaubourg (Pompidou Centre) as was the 1832 battleground of the Rue Saint-Merri. From barricades to shopping opportunities.

But at least there is still some art nearby – although as Hazan (WTP) reminds us, the architects’ original democratic, accessible concept for Beaubourg “for people to meet here, in a certain everyday way, without having to pass through a gate and being checked like in a factory” has now been ‘renovated’ out of existence. Today access is only for ‘the right class of people’.


Boulevard Sebastopol

Arrondissement 3

Numbers 62-64 (site of 22 Rue du Bourg l’Abbé)

64-66 Boulevard Sebastopol is the location of the Lepage Frères arms depot, before 1854 it was 22 Rue du Bourg-l’Abbé. The warehouse was pillaged by a few hundred men from the secret Seasons Club set up by Blanqui and Barbès for weapons and ammunition on May 12 1839. Many carried three or four pistols and rifles out with them. .

The Lepage Brother’s gun shop in the 1830s just round the corner from their store room in the now disappeared road Bourg-l’Abbé

In 1854 the boulevard was initially built as part of Haussman’s redesign of Paris as the Boulevard du Centre. It was then quickly renamed Sebastopol after a year-long seige finally ended in the successful storming of Sebastopol on September 8 1855 by a joint Franco-British force during the otherwise disastrous Crimea War.

The site of the Lepage Frère armoury at 22 rue du Bourg de ‘Abbb , now 62-64 Boulevard ~Sebastopol


Rue du Temple

Arrondissements 3, 4

Numbers: 63, 79, 106, 158, 191

From the junction of Rue-du Temple and Rue de Turbigo looking at the Place de la Republique

One of Paris’ oldest streets it now runs for 1.3 km from the Rue Rivoli up the the Place de la Republique, with the Square du Temple garden created in 1857 leading off it at No. 158.

The name Rue du Temple comes from the Templars district, a large area of land given to the Knights Templar military religious order around 1170. In 1240 the 50 metre high keep was built within a walled enclosure. It initially housed the king’s treasure, and then became a prison. Its most famous occupants from August 13 1792 were Louis XVI and his family.

On December 18 1795 Marie-Thérèse Charlotte de France, their daughter, was the only Bourbon to leave the Tower alive and without a trip to the guillotine. Louis XVI was guillotined on January 21 1793. Marie-Antoinette on October 16 1793. Elisabeth, the king’s sister, on May 10 1794. Louis, the king’s son, died from tuberculosis in the keep on June 8 1795.

On June 29 2017 the Square’s name was changed to Square du Temple – Elie-Wiesel in honour of the human rights campaigner and Holocaust survivor.

In 2007 the incumbent Socialist mayor from a Jewish Polish family erected a Stele in the Square to commemorate the 85 Jewish children of the Third Arrondissement who, under the age of six, had been arrested by the French police and deported to Auschwitz, never to return.

The Templar Tower was knocked down by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1808 partly to prevent Royalist pilgrimages to the site and partly, some argue, to spare his future wife, the sight of her aunt’s last address. The garden and Square was one of 24 laid down under Haussmann’s plan for giving Parisians a little more air.

On February 27 1871 the Square at No 158 was the meeting point of the National Guardsmen on their way to the Champs-Élysées to try and stop the Prussians from entering Paris. Every Saturday during the Commune the band of the National Guard played there to raise funds for the widows and children of men who had died in the war.

Former soldiers who had joined the Commune and foreigners were the first to be executed in the Square on May 25 1871.

The statue by Amadee Doublemard of the popular anti-monarchist poet Pierre-Jean de Béranger that was placed in the Square at its inception was melted down in 1942, but replaced by one in stone by Henri Lagriffioul in 1953.

Women Communards such as Elisabeth Dmitrieff and Nathalie Le Mel used to meet in a women’s club at the Grand café de la Nation  at No. 79, the 17th century Hotel de Montmor. On International Women’s Day March 8 2007 under the recently elected Socialist Paris mayor, a small triangular square at the meeting point of the Rue du Temple and the Rue de Turbigo was named the Place Elisabeth Dmitrieff. It is just outside the entrance to the Temple metro station.

In October 1870 Blanqui was in hiding at No. 191. The flat belonged to Eugène Cléray, a clockmaker and follower of Blanqui who was deputy mayor of the Third arrondissement during the Siege of Paris. Blanqui stayed in the flat on October 31 before going to the Hotel de Ville to see how the insurrection against the new republican government’s indifferent handling of the war with Prussia was going.

Despite 15,000 demonstrating outside the Hotel de Ville for the resignation of the government and then occupying it, by the early hours of the next day it had failed. Blanqui then returned to No. 191.

Where the rue Rambuteau crosses the Rue du Temple at No. 63 there was a restaurant where the Russian Nihilists met in the late 19th century. Trotsky and Lenin also met there early in 1903.

During the occupation of Paris the Central Telephone Archives at No. 106, built in 1927-1928, was taken over by the Germans, and was one of their remaining strong-holds in August 1944.

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Rue Vieille-du-Temple

Arrondissements 3, 4

Numbers: 87, 131

The road dates back to 1250 when it led from the north towards the gardens of the Knights Templar fort and its tower on the inside of the Philippe-August wall. After the Charles V wall was built both parts of the road, inside and outside the old wall became the Old Temple Road.

Like many during the workers’ insurrection of June 1848, the road was barricaded without anyone today knowing its exact location.

On December 2 1851 the workers in the National Printworks at No. 87 were forced by the army supporting Louis-Napoleon’s Coup d’Etat to print the poster announcing the dissolution of the National Assembly.

The 1705 Rohan Private Mansion on the left was nationalised under the French Revolution and turned into the National Printworks by Napoleon in 1808. This use by the state ended in 1924, and after being used by the National Archives for many years at the time of writing (2020) its interior is being restored to 18th century style.

On March 18 1871 the tables were turned. The 86th battalion of the National Guard took over the National Printworks to defend the Paris Commune and Louis Debock, a typesetter, took over the directorship at No. 87.

The Worker Albert was arrested at his home in No. 131 in January 1841 following police enquiries into the assassination attempt on Louis-Philippe on 15 October 1840. Finding communist pamphlets at the house he was jailed for a month for belonging to a Communist club.