Arrondissements 2, 10
Numbers 20, 38,
This is a wide Parisian street built in 1631 on the line of the obsolete 16th century city wall. It was one of what are called the ‘Grands Boulevards’ on the right-bank of the city. Its even numbers are in the 10th arrondissement and its odd numbers in the 2nd.
Named after the local ‘Our Lady Good News’ church (Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle) It is well used to demonstrations. On June 9 1820 Louis XIII’s cavalry charged demonstrators on the Boulevard chanting ‘Long Live the Charter’, killing several of those demanding that the King keep his 1814 promises of acting as a constitutional monarch.
The next time it was King Louis-Philippe’s troops who forcibly cleared the boulevard of republican demonstrators on 15 June 1831.
A major barricade across the boulevard at No. 38 saw the monarchist Odilion Barrot booed by the republican crowd on February 24 1848 when he argued for a regency under Louis-Philippe’s wife to take over from the King. The 2,000 troops sent to demolish the barricade ended up fraternising with the crowd.
On June 23 1848 three of the first barricades in the workers’ insurrection challenging the end of the National Workshops were erected in the short stretch of the boulevard between the Porte St-Denis and the Rue de Mazagran. The flags on the barricades carried the slogan, ‘Bread or Death‘.
On June 13 1849 Ledru-Rollin and Raspail were arrested after organising a demonstration against the government’s decision to besiege the Roman Republic and restore the Pope to the Vatican. Marx, who had observed the demonstration on the Boulevard, was expelled immediately afterwards.
18 months later, 280 opponents of Louis-Napoleon’s coup d’etat of 4 December 1851 were massacred by canon fire at the junction of the Boulevard with the Rue St Denis.
On September 3 1870 it was the police who fired from the police station at No. 23 on demonstrators angry at the announcement of the defeat of Napoleon III at the battle of Sedan.
On Bastille Day, July 14 1941, after Hitler’s invasion of Russia, the Young Communists (Jeunesses communistes) organised a demonstration in the Boulevard that was attacked first by the Paris police and then by the German army.
The Théâtre du Gymnase, also at No. 38, was where Jean Cocteau’s wartime play, The Terrible Parents, was first performed and then banned in 1942.
On 23 August 1927 fighting broke out in the boulevard when the police attacked the demonstration called by the Communist Party against the executions that day in America of the framed Italian migrants Sacco and Vanzetti.
Another street battle between demonstrators and police took place on 16 December 1972, when a protest march against a police murder of a young Algerian man two weeks earlier was broken up, with its leaders, including Michel Foucault, being arrested.