Rue Montorgueil

Arrondissements 1, 2

Numbers: 50, 52, 57, 72, 73, 78

From the 13th century the road was called ‘mont Orgueilleux‘ (Pride Hill). Until the late 20th century the street was associated with bringing fish, and particularly oysters, into Paris.

Pierre-Jean de Béranger was born in No. 50 in 1780. Years later he was a regular guest at literary events at the restaurant at No. 78 (then number 59) called ‘Au Rocher de Cancale’.

In 1839 the insurrectionaries of Blanqui and BarbesSociety of the Season‘s uprising built a barricade across the street between Nos 52 and 43, at an angle with the Rue Tiquetonne.. Blanqui’s headquarters was in the  café at No. 57, on the corner with No. 1 Rue Mandar.

The bustling Café du Centre is on the site of the one that Blanqui and Barbès used as their HQ during the May 1839 insurrection of the 500 members of the Société des Saisons.

On December 4 1851 a barricade across the road at No. 72 was thrown up by opponents of Louis-Napoleon’s coup d’Etat, and many protestors were killed when it was taken by the army.

Twenty years later, nearly at the same place, at No. 73, another barricade witnessed strong resistance to the advance of the Versaillais troops on May 24 1871.




Key Dates 1795-1815

Chronology from Le Maitron of key dates in French labour history

Author: Stéphane Sirot, additional material by Michel Cordillot, René Lemarquis et Claude Pennetier and Steve Jefferys (italicised)


April 1-2 A workers’ insurrection repressed in Paris.

May 20, May 23 Another workers’ insurrection in Paris ending in the Army occupying the militant Saint-Antoine district. The revolt is finally over after three days of fighting. The slogan of the revolutionaries was ‘Bread and the Constitution of Year 2‘.

December Workers strikes in Paris


March 30 Gracchus Babeuf and his comrades establish the Insurrectionary Committee of the Equals. Sylvain Maréchal drafts the Manifesto of the Equals.

May 10 Babeuf, Buonarroti and 245 ‘Equals’ supporters arrested.

September 9, 10 Equals plot to win over the Grenelle soldiers for a revolution foiled. Many arrests.

October 10 30 of the Equals condemned to death by a military court.


May 27 Babeuf and others in the Conspiracy of the Equals guillotined.

November 16 Carpenters strike in Paris


September 19 110 inventors and industrialists participate in the opening ceremony of an Industrial Exhibition in the Champs de Mars organised under the 1795-1799 Directorate.


November 9 Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte stages a Coup d’État that overthrows the Directorate and opens a period of social calm with regulations highly favourable to employers. This took place on the 18 Brumaire an VIII in the revolutionary calendar.


December 24 Chambers of Commerce and Industry are created by the 1799-1804 Consulate that replaces the Directorate.


April 12 A law is passed regulating work in factories and workshops and at the same time renewing the illegality of workers’ combinations.

December 1 The workers’ passbook (livret ouvrier) is introduced. It is a kind of identify passport that allows the police and employers to know the exact situation of each worker. Any worker travelling without their passbook is declared to be a vagabond and can be treated as such.


March 21 The Civil Code (article 1781) states that in the case of a dispute about a worker’s salary the word of the master takes precedence over the worker’s statements in front of a tribunal. This article is only abolished in 1866. The Code provides for divorce, but within a marriage the wife is treated as a minor, and her property is given to her husband. On his death the property is divided equally between the children, abolishing the right of the oldest male child to inherit all the property.

December 2 Napoléon is crowned Emperor at Notre-Dame Cathedral by Pope Pius VII.


March 18 Establishment of the first industrial tribunals called Conseils de prud’hommes (Wise Men Councils) to arbitrate where there were disputes between employers and their skilled workers. The first one appeared in Lyon.


June 11 Decree passed to finalisie the 1806 Industrial Tribunal law.


February 10, 22 A decree outlining a new Penal Code was passed into law. It codified all the penal laws passed between 1791 and 1800. Its articles 291, 292, 414, 415 and 416 required all associations of 20 or more people to secure government approval for their existence and confirmed the illegality of all combinations of workers aiming to stop work or modify wages.


March 2 Hunger riots in Caen; an order is passed organising the distribution of 2 million soups.


January 3 A decree fixes the minimum age a child can go down a mine to ten.


March 31 Coalition armies enter Paris. Napoleon abdicates at Fontainebleau on April 5 in favour of his son, and then unconditionally on April 11.

May 3 Louis XVIII enters Paris.

June 4 Louis XVIII issues a Constitutional Charter providing for a parliamentary system with a house of lords nominated by the King and an elected chamber of deputies.

October Saint-Simon and his then secretary, Augustin Thierry publish De la réorganisation de la société européenne. It proposes the extension of English parliamentary rule under a constitutional monarch to every European state with a European parliament above them. It escapes the restoration censor, unlike its second edition.


February 25 Napoléon Bonaparte leaves Elba for France.

June 18 Napoléon defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.

June 24 Napoléon leaves Paris.

July 8 Louis XVIII returns to Paris.

July 15 Napoléon surrenders to the English on the Bellerophon that sails for Plymouth

August 7 The Northumberland leaves for Saint-Helena with Napoléon on board. It arrives there on October 16.

November Pierre-Jean Béranger published his first book of songs, Chansons morales et autres in which he celebrated the victories of the Revolution and the Empire, attacked the ancien regime and the supremacy of the clergy.

December 7 Marshal Ney is executed in the Luxembourg Garden for having supported Napoléon during the 100 Days.

PLACES 1795-1815


Bourbon Restoration and revolt. Key dates

The 1814 Restoration of the Bourbon dynasty in the figure of Louis XVIII and his reinstatement after Waterloo saw the near disappearance of the French left. Accounts of the egalitarian ideals of the Revolution were kept alive by handfuls of teachers, defrocked priests and former revolutionaries. It was only in the late 1820s that historical studies of the French Revolution started to be published.

In April 1814 Louis XVIII, brother of the executed Louis XVI, rejected a constitution drafted by the provisional government set up after Napoleon’s first abdication. The Charter of 1814 he then imposed was only implemented after foreign troops again occupied Paris after the June 1815 battle of Waterloo. The Charter reaffirmed the idea that the French King was the central authority by divine (birth) right.  Nevertheless, it also endorsed some of the elements introduced since 1795.

The 1815 Constitutional Charter was a decree issued by Louis XVIII. It declared that all French men are equal before the law and that their individual freedom is guaranteed, including the right to religious choice – while declaring France’s state religion to be Roman Catholic.  It offered to overlook the opinions and votes given before the Restoration (excepting those of the Regicides who had voted to executive Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette).

The Charter left in place most of the administrative and legal changes introduced by Napoléon.

The new constitution closely and consciously mimicked the British monarchical structure. Louis XVIII shared legislative power with a Chamber of Peers made up of aristocrats nominated by the King, and a Chamber of Deputies.

The Chamber of Deputies was made up only of men aged over 40 who paid over 1,000 francs a year in direct tax, and who were elected by men aged over 30 who paid over 300 francs a year in tax. Just 15,000 very rich Frenchmen were eligible to become deputies and only about 94,000 wealthy Frenchmen were enfranchised (out of a French population of approximately 35 million).

Opposition to the authoritarian regime came from both republicans and Bonapartists. In 1821 the poet songwriter Pierre-Jean Béranger was jailed in Sainte-Pélagie prison for three months for publishing political song lyrics.

In 1822 four soldiers who were allegedly members of the French Carbonari were executed for plotting to overthrow the king.

In 1824 Louis XVIII died and his younger (67-year-old) and still more reactionary brother, Charles X, became king. Still a firm believer in the divine right of kings he claimed the right to rule by decree whenever he felt it necessary.

In 1827 Parisian protests became more frequent. Demonstrations took place against the growing influence of the Jesuits, for greater press freedom and when the opposition to Charles X won a majority among the Paris deputies. Blanqui was wounded three times that year.

Pierre-Jean de Béranger, the most popular song-writer/poet of the period, was jailed for 9 months in La Force prison after publishing his fourth volume of songs in 1828.

In 1829 Béranger was jailed again for nine months, this time in La Force prison, for publishing songs advocating freedom of speech.  

To try and win nationalistic support Charles X ordered his army to seize Algeria on July 5 1830. At the same time, refusing to respond to growing pressure for political influence from the few wealthy voters, his government issued four new decrees on July 26 1830.

Charles X banned freedom of the press, dissolved parliament, halved the numbers of deputies and gave the richest 25% of electors in each constituency a veto over which deputies would actually sit in parliament. The July Revolution broke out the next day.

Rue Béranger

Arrondissement 3

Numbers: 3, 5, 25-26

Door of No 5
Door of No 5

Renamed in 1864 under Napoleon III in honour of the song-writer Pierre-Jean de Béranger whose songs under the Bourbons had often praised the achievements of Napoleon 1, Béranger himself had lived and then died in a top floor flat at No. 5 when the road was called the Rue de Vendôme.

The name Vendôme used from about 1694 was because Philippe de Vendôme was the head of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem that ran the nearby huge Templar Knights estate and tower.

Ironically, the 1964 renaming took place in the same year that one of the main figures with Henri Tolain behind the ‘Manifesto of 60 Working Men, Joseph Perrachon, was living at No. 3. The Manifesto was describe by Marx as ‘The first Class charter by a French working class movement on the way to becoming adult‘. Perrachon was one of those who then founded the International Workingmen’s Association.

Fierce fighting took place in the road on May 24 1871, when a barricade from Nos. 25 to 26 was finally taken by some Versaillais troops approaching it from the Boulevard du Temple.


Rue des Martyrs

Arrondissements 9, 18

Numbers: 19, 34, 65, 79

Photo taken around 1905 looking south

Named because it was an old road that headed towards Montmartre village where, legend had it, St Denis, the first Paris bishop, and his followers were beheaded. It was temporarily renamed the ‘Field of rest’ road (rue du Champ-de-Repos) from 1793 to 1806 at the moment during the French Revolution when the cult of Reason was on the rise.

Béranger‘s friend, the republican Restoration deputy, Jacques-Antoine Manuel, died at No. 19 in August 1827. This was also the address where the Natanson brothers set up la Revue Blanche in 1889.

Victor Schoelcher spoke at a meeting on February 4 1879 at the Paz gym at No. 34 about education reform.

An art gallery at No. 65 was owned by the antique dealer Père Soulier that was a meeting place for Spanish artists. In 1901 Picasso bought a Douanier-Rousseau painting there that he kept throughout his life.

Picasso was also a regular at the Café du Grand Hôtel des Deux Hémisphères at No. 79, along with Appolinaire and many others. The photograph above was taken in the 1900s looking southwards towards where the road crosses the Boulevard de Clichy.


Rue René Boulanger

Arrondissement 10

Numbers: 50, 60

A street named after a trade unionist is rare in Paris. During the Occupation René Boulanger was one of the organisers of the underground CGT. Aged 43 he was tortured to death by the Gestapo on March 7 1944. The road was renamed in his honour on December 18 1944, recalling the presence in the Rue Bondy of the Paris regional office of his union, the CGT’s white collar finance section.

Aged 20 Pierre-Jean de Béranger lived in a garret at No. 50 in 1800.

The painter Georges Seurat was born at No. 60 on December 2 1859. This was also the address of the monthly journal La Voie Communiste. This was an opposition paper within the Communist Party started in 1958 by Gérard Spitzer and Denis Berger that supported the Algerian FLN. Its publication stopped in 1965.

Rue de Richelieu

Arrondissements 1, 2

Number: 58, 64, 66, 102, 104, 110,

The magnificent reading room of the National Library of France at No. 58 used by both Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg as well as many other socialists and communists..

Lenin got a reader’s ticket to No. 58 on the recommendation of a socialist member of parliament, Louis Roblin. Lenin visited the library regularly throughout his stay in Paris from 1909 to 1912. On one occasion the bicycle he used to journey from the 14th arrondissement was stolen according to police reports.

The journal of the Internationalist Communist Party, French Section of the Fourth International, Workers’ Truth, that appeared from August 1952 to May 1962, was based at offices at No. 64. Michel Raptis (Pablo), based in Paris until De Gaulle’s 1958 Coup d’Etat was the 4th International’s secretary through this period.

In March 1848 the Fraternal Association of Linen Seamstresses, a women’s revolutionary club set up by Elisa Lemonnier and its president, Désirée Gay, used to meet at No. 66, the Hôtel de Brouilly.

On July 27 1830 the seizure of the presses at the printshop of the ‘Times’ ( Le Temps) at No. 102 was the trigger that set off the 1830 July Revolution against the increasing Bourbon repression under Charles X.

The first meeting of the radical republican Friends of the People club, attended by Pierre-Jean de Béranger and Étienne Cabet among others took place at No. 104 on July 30 1830.

The editorial offices of the socialist daily paper launched on April 18 1904 by Jean Jaurès, Anatole France, Octave Mirbeau and Aristide Briand and others, l’Humanité, were then at No. 110.

The near kilometre-long road stretching northwards from the centre of Paris was given the name in 1633 after Cardinal Richelieu, alongside his Cardinal Palace (now the Palais-Royal). During the French Revolution, from 1793 to 1806 it was called the Rue de la Loi.


Rue de Roi de Sicile

Arrondissement 4

Numbers 2-4

The only physical remains of the Prison de la Force in the rue de Roi de Sicile. Many aristocrats were placed before their executions in September 1792. Later it was a holding prison for opposition figures on short sentences such as Pierre-Jean Béranger and Blanqui .

In 1780 the huge 16th century town house at numbers 2-4 that had once belonged to the Duc de La Force was bought by Louis XVI and rebuilt as a modern prison in two sections, one for men and the other for women. Under the French Revolution it became a holding prison, and from 1815 to 1828 a prison used mainly for prostitutes.

In 1828-29 Pierre Jean de Béranger, the Georges Brassens of his day, a highly popular song-writer critical of Charles X was jailed there.  In 1831 this was where Blanqui entered his first prison.

Falling down and dirty and disease-ridden the prison was demolished in 1845, with just one wall still surviving in the rue Mahler, where it now joins the Historical Library of the city of Paris.



Twenty 19th century French writers, including George Sand, Victor Hugo, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine and Émile Zola

Those referenced will include 20th century leftist writers (novelists, poets, song-writers, philosophers such as: Aimé Césaire, Jean-Paul Sartre, Victor Serge, Ernest Hemingway, Andre Breton, Louis Aragon, Guillaume Apollinaire, Georges Brassens, Marc Bloch, Pierre Bourdieu, Louis Althusser, Andre Gorz, Daniel Bensaid, Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, Benoite Groult, Andre Malraux as well as many 19th century republicans and socialists such as Victor Hugo, Daniel Stern, George Sand, Flora Tristan, Alphonse de Lamartine, Emile Zola, Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Stephane Mallarme

Poems from the left

Poems from the left

Poems by some of the writers and revolutionaries who appear in Left in Paris

Louis Aragon, Written in February 1943, first published March 11 1943

The Rose and the Reseda

The one who believed in heaven
The one who didn’t
Both loved the beauty
Imprisoned by soldiers
Which climbed the ladder?
And which stood guard below?

The one who believed in heaven
The one who didn’t?
What matters the name of
This light on their steps?
that one was of the church
And the other baulked from it?

The one who believed in heaven
The one who didn’t?
Both were faithful
with their lips, heart, arms
And both said that she will
live, time will tell

The one who believed in heaven
The one who didn’t
When the wheat is under the hail
Fool who is fussy
Fool who think of his little quarrels
In the heart of the common combat?

The one who believed in heaven
The one who didn’t
From the height of the citadel
The sentinel shot
Twice and one staggers
the other falls who will die?

The one who believed in heaven
The one who didn’t?
They are in prison
Who has the sadest pallet
Who freezes more then the other
Who prefers the rats?

The one who believed in heaven
The one who didn’t?
A rebel is a rebel
Two sobs make a single knell
And when the cruel dawn arrives
They pass on

The one who believed in heaven
The one who didn’t
Repeating the name of the beauty
Neither of the two betrayed
And their blood runs red
Same colour same vividness

The one who believed in heaven
The one who didn’t
It runs, and runs, and mingles
Into the earth it loved
So in the new season
Muscat grapes would ripen

The one who believed in heaven
The one who didn’t
One runs and the other flies
From Brittany or Jura
And raspberries or plums
Crickets will sing again
Flute or cello, tell the story of
This double love that burnt
The lark and the swallow
The rose and the reseda

The Rose and the Reseda read by Louis Aragon

Pierre-Jean de Béranger, 1839


      Here in this gutter let me die:
        Weary and sick and old, I’ve done.
      “He’s drunk,” will say the passers-by:
        All right, I want no pity–none.
      I see the heads that turn away,
        While others glance and toss me sous:
      “Off to your junket! go!” I say:
    Old tramp,–to die I need no help from you.

      Yes, of old age I’m dying now:
        Of hunger people never die.
      I hoped some almshouse might allow
        A shelter when my end was nigh;
      But all retreats are overflowed,
        Such crowds are suffering and forlorn.
      My nurse, alas! has been the road:
    Old tramp,–here let me die where I was born.

      When young, it used to be my prayer
        To craftsmen, “Let me learn your trade.”
      “Clear out–we’ve got no work to spare;
        Go beg,” was all reply they made.
      You rich, who bade me work, I’ve fed
        With relish on the bones you threw;
      Made of your straw an easy bed:
    Old tramp,–I have no curse to vent on you.

      Poor wretch, I had the choice to steal;
        But no, I’d rather beg my bread.
      At most I thieved a wayside meal
        Of apples ripening overhead.
      Yet twenty times have I been thrown
        In prison–’twas the King’s decree;
      Robbed of the only thing I own:
    Old tramp,–at least the sun belongs to me.

      The poor man–is a country his?
        What are to me your corn and wine,
      Your glory and your industries,
        Your orators? They are not mine.
      And when a foreign foe waxed fat
        Within your undefended walls,
      I shed my tears, poor fool, at that:
    Old tramp,–his hand was open to my calls.

      Why, like the hateful bug you kill,
        Did you not crush me when you could?

      Or better, teach me ways and skill
        To labor for the common good?

      The ugly grub an ant may end,
        If sheltered from the cold and fed.

      You might have had me for a friend:
    Old tramp,–I die your enemy instead.