Rue Dauphine

Arrondissement 6

Numbers: 1-2, 7, 18, 33, 39, 42

Rue Dauphine from Quai de Conti

Built in 1607 to link the first stone bridge (the Pont Neuf) across the Seine funded from the king’s purse with the Philippe Auguste wall, it was named after the Dauphin (eldest son) of Henri IV. This peculiar name (meaning dolphin in French) dated from 1349 when King Philippe bought land from the Count of Vienna on condition that all heirs to the French throne be named after the dolphin emblem on the count’s coat of arms.

The royal connection didn’t survive revolutionary France. From 1792 to 1814 it was renamed Rue de Thionville to honour the victorious two-month resistance of the town of that name to the 1792 seige by 36,00 Austrian and French Royalist troops. At the next challenge to the Bourbons a barricade thrown up between Nos. 1 and 2, opposite the Pont Neuf bridge, saw heavy fighting with Charles X’s soldiers defending the Louvre Palace on July 27 1830.

On May 25 1871 a barricade in the same place was taken without great difficulty by the Versallais troops.

Outside No. 7 there is a plaque on the wall. This is where in 1937 Picasso painted Guernica in his roof-top studio for the Spanish Republic’s hall in that year’s Paris International Exhibition. In vain Picasso left a will stating that the work would only be returned to Spain when it was again a Republic.

Picasso painted his most famous painting in his studio at the corner of Rue Dapuhine and the Quai des grands Augustins in just a month before the 1937 International exhibition where it was first shown.

A big arms cache of the FTP resistance group on the mezzanine floor of Staircase D of No. 18 was found by the anti-resistance Special Brigade of the Paris Police in June 1943.

Marat, Danton and Desmoulins used to attend the Cordeliers Club meetings at No 18 from 1792-1795. The club was dominated by the Herbertists

Martin Bernard, a typographer and member of Barbès and Blanqui‘s republican ‘Family Association’ (Société des Familles) conspiracy that subsequently became the Société des saisons and staged the May 12 1839 insurrection set up an ammunition workshop at No. 24. He was arrested there on June 2 1836.

In 1864 members of the newly-founded International Working Men’s Association, Eugène Varlin and Nathalie Le Mel, set up the La Marmite association at Varlin’s flat at No. 33. Within a few years it had grown to some 8,000 members.

In 1942 Simone de Beauvoir was staying at the Hôtel d’Aubusson, also at No. 33, when she was forced out of teaching. The left/existentialist intellectual bar, Le Tabou, that had been the Bar vert in the Rue Jacob was reopened in the basement by Juliette Greco for rehearsals in 1946 before opening to the public the following year.

No. 42 was the address of the editorial office of La Vie ouvriére, 1909-1911. The journal was founded with funds collected from supporters and edited by Pierre Monatte, aiming to be ‘the home of syndicalist intellectual cooperation’. Its contributors included the major figures of French trade unionism such as Victor Griffuelhes, Léon Jouhaux, Alfred Rosmer and Alphonse Merrheim.

After his marriage, Jacques Prévert lived at No. 39 on the fifth floor beneath the roof with his wife Simone Dienne in 1931-1932.

A fortnightly, La Vie ouvriére‘s subscribers numbered 550 in the first issue of December 1909  and rose to 1,350 in January 1911, the year its office moved to the Librarie du Travail on the Quai Jemappes, closer to the CGT’s main offices.

Rue Dauphine was Paris’ widest street in the 17th century, No 42 housed the editorial offices of the influential CGT revolutionary syndicalist fortnightly paper, La Vie Ouvriere.

Rue Dauphine (9 metres wide) was the widest street in early 17th century Paris. It also, arguably, holds one of the keys to Paris’ tradition of uniformity of architectural design.

Hazan (IOP) reports Henry IV writing to Sully in 1607:  ‘My friend, following what I have told you that work is beginning on the buildings that are in the new road going from the end of the Pont-Neuf to the Porte de Bussy, I wanted to send you this word to tell you that I would be very happy if you would explain to those who start building in this road that they should make the front of their houses entirely in the same order, for it would be a fine ornament to see from the end of the bridge this road with one and the same façade.’

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