Numbers 3, 14
The Château d’Eau road runs towards the Gare du Nord for nearly 700m from the Boulevard de Magenta that leads directly from the Place de la République. The road used to cover a sewer that was finally completely covered up in 1841. The old road was renamed in 1851 by the government the Rue du Château d’Eau. This was one of the first demonstrations of how the then President Louis Napoléon was using his uncle’s achievements to bolster his own political designs to become Emperor.
In 1811 Napoléon Bonaparte had inaugurated a huge fountain, surrounded by lions, in the square of what became known as the Place du Château d’Eau that became the Place de la République in 1879. The original fountain erected to celebrate the opening of a much-needed aqueduct bringing fresh water to Paris from the North, was moved to La Villette in 1867.
Louise Michel taught briefly at a boarding school based in 14 rue du
Château d’Eau in 1856-7.
One of the most interesting buildings at the start of the Rue du Château d’Eau is the monumental Bourse du Travail at No. 3. Built between 1888 and 1896 for the City of Paris after the left Republican majority on the City council was the first to vote in 1887 to create a trade union alternative venue to private employment hiring agencies. Reproduced nearly everywhere that the centre left won municipal councils, the federation of Bourses du Travail was one of the key components of early French trade unionism. Even today, where they still exist, unions using the Bourses du Travail are provided with free office space. meeting rooms and phone lines by their local councils.
In 1944 the Bourse du Travail was one of the first municipal buildings taken by the resistance. The Paris Liberation Committee used to meet there after the liberation of Paris in August 1944.
Next to the Bourse du Travail there’s a nice cafe, with some old trade union banners and memorabilia. Well worth a stop…