Rue du Chateau

Arrondissement 14

Numbers: 42, 53

View of the working class street in 1900s

The road was named because it used to lead up to a small Château that was finally demolished in 1898. The so-called Château du Maine was the name given to a three story private town house built around 1730 also known as ‘Fantasie’ and finally demolished in 1898. The house itself was situated at what is now roughly No. 142 Rue du Château.The eastern part of the road, with numbers between 2 and 80, also appear to have been demolished roughly a century later.

Around 1867 when the International Association of Working Men was banned by Napoleon III, its supporters, including Nathalie Le Mel launched several cooperative restaurants. La Marmite (cooking pot) at No. 47 was one of these, part;y acting as a cover for continued political organisation.

South of Montparnasse station it was a working class street with cheap rents and poor quality housing (see picture above from the 1900s), most of which was pulled down if it didn’t fall down towards the end of the 29th century.

The Bar du Chateau at No. 53 was a regular meeting place for the surrealist group. This (largely male) group included André Breton, Louis Aragon, Benjamin Péret, Raymond Queneau and Max Morise were among those attending. One meeting on March 11 1929 saw three members including Roger Vailland breaking away after rejecting the supportive line for Stalin taken by a majority.

From 1924 to 1928 the poet Jacques Prévert lived in a creative colony at No. 54 with Yves Tanguy in a flat belonging to Marcel Duhamel. Duhamel sold it in 1928 to Louis Aragon, who moved in and was joined by Elsa Triolet in January 1929.

Two resistance fighters lived at No. 114 with their daughter in 1943. Olga Bancic was a 32-year-old Romanian Jewish Communist. She was captured on November 6 1943 and sentenced to death with the others in the Manouchian group.

French law did not allow the execution of women so Olga Blancic was deported to Stuttgart and her head hacked off with an axe


Rue de Sèvres

Arrondissments 6, 7, 15

Number: 11, 17, 22, 24

As early as the 14th century the 1.5km-long road from central Paris towards the village of Sèvres six miles away (nearly 10km) got its name. The name was later made famous by the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres (the porcelain factory) moved there in 1756 at the demand of Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, and then bought by the king three years later.

One of the largest underground newspapers circulating in the Northern Zone, Défense de la France, during the German Occupation was printed at No. 11. It was printing 450,000 in January 1944. The niece of Charles de Gaulle, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, was one of its supporters. One of those involved in the printing, Jacques Grou-Radenez, was arrested and died in deportation on November 12 1943.

Marc Bloch the Left historian who founded the Economic and Social History Annales lived in a flat at No. 17, above the then Lutetia swimming pool, from 1936 to 1940. Initially used exclusively by the adjoining hotel it was requisitioned by the Gestapo in 1940. In 1945 it became a centre for returning concentration camp inmates and then a public swimming pool. until it was closed in the 1970s. The Lutetia swimming pool is now a Hermes shop.

A rare plaque for the Leftist was put on the first floor wall of the building because of his wartime role leading the resistance in Lyon, after he was sacked from his job as Professor at the Sorbonne University for being a Jew.

On the right, above the Hermes shop at No. 17, a plaque remembers Marc Bloch

The huge establishment at No. 22-24, Le Bon Marche, the French equivalent of Harrods, has been catering to wealthy French Parisians and tourists since 1852, just 11 months after the December 1851 coup d’état when Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte seized power.

Jacques Prévert worked as a salesman there in March 1916, before being fired for having ‘turned a salewoman from the right path’.