Rue de Bretagne

Arrondissement 3

Numbers: 14, 39, 49, 62, 71

The road was named ‘Brittany’ after a never completed project of Henry IV to build a great square into which several streets would run, each with the name of a different province. After two streets were merged in 1851 the road is nearly half a kilometre in length. The even-numbered side of the road was demolished in 1920 to widen the road to its present width.

No. 14 was where the first issue of the centre-left newspaper Libération was prepared and published on April 18 1973.

The oldest covered market in Paris at No. 39, the Market of the Red Children (Le marché des Enfants Rouges), was established in 1628 near an orphanage whose children were dressed in red, the colour of charity). During the ‘Bloody week’ at the end of the Paris Commune in May 1871 the market was fortified and defended.

On January 2 1910 Lenin attended a revolutionary ‘goguette‘ – a kind of drinking + sing-song / poetry-and-literature dinner with roughly 20 people – organised by La Muse Rouge in a room on the first floor of No. 49. We don’t know if he was accompanied by Krupskaya or Inessa.

The venue (shown in the photograph above taken in the 1910s) was the Third arrondissement’s communal building. At the time there were hundreds of these goguette events being organised regularly in Paris. The Muse Rouge theatre group was expelled by the PCF in 1925.

By 1921 the building included the office of the Paris Federation of the SFIO (Socialists) and this was where Breton and Aragon came to apply to join the new French Section of the Communist International, less than a week after the majority of socialists had voted at the Tours Congress to affiliate to the Third International.

In 1922 the cooperative workers’ restaurant and café La Famille Nouvelle based at No. 49 was visited by many leftists including Ho Chi Minh. Many left events took place, including monthly dinners of the Revolutionary Esperantists, who were entertained by the Socialist Federation’s choir.

On September 1 1939 Palmiro Togliatti was arrested by the French police and taken to the Police Station at No. 62. They didn’t find out his true identity and he was jailed only for holding false papers and finally released in February 1940.

In the bloody week of May 1871 a barricade across the road at No. 71 defended by the 86th National Guard battalion mounted strong resistance to the Versaillais troops. This was also the address where Sylvain Maréchal, who drafted the Equality Manifesto of April 1796 is supposed to have lived.

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Rue de Charonne

Arrondissement 11

Street of tragic events

This long 17th century road linked Charonne to Paris long before the village was annexed in 1860.

Ho Chi Minh lived in the street in 1917, when he first arrived in Paris.

On February 8 1962 trade union and left political party demonstrators against the OAS and in support of Algerian independence were viciously attacked by the Parisian police as they sought shelter in the metro station Charonne. Maurice Papon, Paris police chief with the backing of the President de Gaulle ordered the police to disperse the illegal demonstration. Six men and three women were killed and some 250 wounded.

Most of those suffocated or killed with blows to the head were members of the CGT trade union.

The following day over half a million demonstrators marched to the Père-Lachaise  cemetery, while the prime minister, Michel Debré visited police stations and wrote a letter to Papon congratulating him and his men. Papon had previously been involved in the murders of hundreds of Algerians in Paris at the FLN demonstration of 17 October 1961. He was finally sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1998 for complicity in the deportation of Jews between 1942 and 1944.

On February 8 2007 the Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, named the junction between the boulevard Voltaire and the rue de Charonne in commemoration: La Place du 8-février-1962. there is also a plaque inside the metro station.

The CGT and PCF commemorative plaque inside the Charonne metro station lists the names of the victims of the police brutality of 8 February 1962

The same street witnessed 19 people killed and 14 wounded on 13 November 2015 when two gunmen opened fire on the terrace of La Belle Équipe restaurant at No. 92, when 130 people in total were murdered that night.

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Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine

Arrondissements 11, 12

Numbers: 1, 2, 63, 151, 157, 185

The word faubourg derives from old French meaning ‘outside the village/town/abbey). Saint-Antoine was the name of the hamlet built outside the 13th century Saint-Antoine-des-Champs abbey walls, on whose site stands the Saint-Antoine Hospital.

The abbey brought in the carpenters, varnishers, tapestry-makers, glass makers (Saint-Gobain started here in 1665 thanks to Colbert) that made the area the most populated in Paris in the 18th century.

The Caplain factory employed many women workers manufacturing gas masks during the First World War

It was also the most revolutionary, with its workers forming the biggest contingent among those who attacked the Bastille prison and armoury in 1789. On July 30 1792, when the Marseillais volunteers marched into Paris along the road singing the Chant de marche pour l’armée du Rhin, they had no idea that this song by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle would become the French national anthem for the first time in 1795.

At an address in the road that is unknown, Pierre-Jean Beranger lived with his grandfather in the 1780s, before being taken by him to see the storming of the Bastille in 1789. This influence, and that of an uncle, mitigated against that of his father, and put Beranger on the side of ordinary people for most of his life.

One of the few barricades in the insurrection of June 6 1832 that followed the funeral of the republican sympathiser General Lamarque was outside No. 2. This short-lived insurrection was made famous by Victor Hugo in Les Misérables in his description of the barricade in the Rue Saint- Martin.

On June 25 1848 some 29 barricades were erected in the Sainte-Antoine district. The one across the road between No. 1 and No. 2 was where the Archbishop of Paris, Denys Affre, was mortally wounded by Cavaignac‘s soldiers when he tried to persuade both sides to stop fighting. The barricade fell shortly afterwards.

In 1871 the road was once more barricaded by the citizen-soldiers of the National Guard, called the fédérés. One of the most important again was built on March 18 1871 to block the road between No. 1 and No. 2 and prevent access to the Bastille square. Over 100 Communards were killed in the battle before it was taken by the Versaillais army on May 26 1871.

A barricade across Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine in May 1871 defended by the National Guard. It is photographed from the Eastern side from where the Versaillais troops were expected to come.

Another barricade in the road in May 1871 ran across the Rue de Charonne from No. 63. This was where Marx’s personal envoy to the Commune, Elisabeth Dmitrieff, helped the Hungarian member of the First International, Léo Fränkel who was wounded on the barricade there on May 25 1871.

On December 3 1851 it was at a barricade crossing from what is now the Rue Trousseau at No. 151 that Victor Schoelcher joined the protest against the seizure of power by Louis-Napoleon and tried to raise a revolt in a working class area. He saw his fellow deputy, Alphonse Baudin, shot dead. The 20 deputies who had come to the barricade had met first at the Café des Peuples at No. 157.

On the second floor of 151 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine this plaque is all that records the location of the young deputy’s death defending democracy in 1851

A later use of No. 157 was made by the publication the Cooperation of Ideas there in 1899. It had then become the venue of the Theatre of the People

This was also where the Club of the Faubourg (Club du Faubourg) used to meet in 1919 and 1920. One of the regular visitors to the Club at No. 157 in 1919 was Nguyên Tat Thanh, alias Nguyên Ai Quôc, Ho Chi Minh.

The cooperative connection was continued further down the road in No. 185. In the ealry 20th century ‘The Family of the 11th Arrondissement’ cooperative shop was also a bulk distribution centre for socialist cooperatives.

The Family of the 11th Arrondissement socialist cooperative on the corner with the Rue Saint-Bernard photographed in the early 20th century

Plus d’informations

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Rue Jacques Callot

Arrondissement 6

Number: 16

The very short road was opened and named in 1912 after the engraver, Jacques Callot, who lived for about a year in Paris in 1629. It was built on an old alley-way to the Pont Neuf opened in 1823.

Its principal feature is the Café La Pallette (shown above) whose second back room is decorated with ceramics from the 1930s. Close to the Beaux-Arts de Paris institution the doorway next to it at No. 16 included the office of the review Le Paria edited by Ho chi Minh who, in respone to the police watching him, wrote to the Minister of the Colonies in August 1922 telling him what he was doing there.

In the early 1920s No. 16 was also the address of the literary review, Clarté, founded in 1919 by Henri Barbusse.

On October 15 1925 Clarte published the surrealist manifesto drafted by Breton called ‘The Revolution First and Always’ in response to French involvement in the Moroccan war. It was also signed by Aragon and Éluard

In the Spring of 1926 Breton and Aragon and Naville opened the Surrealist Gallery in the former office of the Clarté. And in December that year Pierre Naville described Breton bringing Léona Delcourt (Nadja) there at the end of Breton’s relationship with her.

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Quai de Jemmapes

Arrondissement: 10

Number 96

For a long period before the Second World War this was the libertarian Librarie du Travail bookshop on the side of the Saint Martin canal.

The old Librarie du Travail on the Quai de Jemmapes alongside the St Martin canal is now a hotel bar where one December evening in 2016 I had a really good, if not cheap, glass of wine. At least its name, Hotel Citizen, testifies to a remote leftist memory.

The Quai was first given the name Quai Charles-X in 1824, when that very Catholic reactionary Bourbon king took the crown. In 1830 it was renamed the Quai de Jemmapes, after the first battle of November 6 1792 that was won by the new revolutionary army in Belgium near the village of Jemappes, against the Austrians – one in which the new July 1830 monarch, Louis-Philippe, had taken part on the French government’s side.

This revolutionary syndicalist bookshop was where Pierre Monatte (1881-1960) ran the CGT’s La Vie Ouvrière from 1909 until the monthly review stopped publication in July 1914. It continued to be used as a meeting place. Julius Martov first met some of the few French revolutionary syndicalists who opposed the First World War, and later, in November 1914, Monatte, Alfred Rosmer (1877-1964) and Alphonse Merrheim met Trotksy (1879-1940).

The bookshop was also visited by Ho Chi Minh in 1919, where he made contact with the left socialists who would go on to lead the majority to vote to affiliate to the Third International at the SFIO Tours congress in 1920.

This was also the second location of La Révolution prolétarienne, a ‘revue syndicaliste-communist’ monthly set up by Pierre Monatte in January 1925 after he had resigned from the then Communist Party-controlled daily, l’Humanité. From January to June 1925 it had been first based at 17 rue André del Sarte in the 18th arrondissement.

The journal dealt with practical and theoretical issues. It denounced French imperialism in Indochina, Madagascar and North Africa, and criticised Stalin’s hold over the workers’ movement and the persecutions of the Left Opposition in Russia. In 1927 La Révolution prolétarienne became a fortnightly. From 1930 it described itself as a ‘revue syndicaliste revolutionnaire’.  Contributors included early founders of the PCF such as Alfred Rosmer, as well as Daniel Guérin, Simone Weil, Victor Serge and Jean Maitron.


La Révolution prolétarienne stopped publishing in 1939 but started up again in 1947. In 2018 its strapline simply state ‘Revue fondée par Pierre Monatte en 1925’. It is available online.

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Rue de Stockholm

Arrondissements 8

Number 10

Rue de Stockholm cut short by the Gare Saint-Lazare

Built in 1831 near the place de l’Europe, the original long road was almost entirely eaten by the Saint-Lazare railway station when it was built in 1859.

No 10 rue de Stockholm was where the French police first found out where Nguyen Tat Thanh was living in Paris

Ho Chi Minh lived in more than 16 known addresses in Paris between 1917 or 1919 and 1927. Police records only began in 1919 and show that he stayed briefly at No 10 rue de Stockholm in June 1919, when he was a member of the socialist party, the SFIO. He then signed himself Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen the patriot) in the call for an independent Indochina he signed that was presented to the Versailles Peace Conference.

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