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.
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.
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.