The shortest of the 12 roads leading like star bursts from the Arc de Triomphe, it was partly built in 1840 , added to in 1854 to provide symmetry around the Place de l’Étoile, and extended to its present 300m length in 1867. It was named Carnot instead of the Avenue of Acacias in 1880.
Lazare Carnot was not only a mathematician and doctor. Crucially for the bourgeois politicians who ran the Third Republicand who wished to reaffirm their republicanism he was a regicide and the successful General at the Battle of Wattignies on October 15-16 1793 that finally ended the series of defeats for France’s revolutionary armies.
From 1899 to 1904 Aragon’s mother, Marguerite Toucas, ran a family boarding house at No. 20, providing her, her mother and the young Louis with an income. It is likely that it was Aragon’s father who purchased the small business on behalf of the much younger woman who had fathered his son.
It was only when he was 19 that Aragon was told that the woman he believed was his mother was actually his grandmother and the woman he thought was his sister his mother.
The photograph above was taken in 1900. It captures the wealth of the Avenue at the time Aragon lived there, with a motor car in the very wide street, and delivery routes just in front of the houses.