Rue Claude Bernard

Arrondissement 5

Numbers: 77, 90

Once this was a continuation of the Rue des Feuillantines. It was briefly named the southern section of the Rue Gay-Lussac. The street was knocked through under Haussmann in the 1850s when it was widened from 12m to 20m. In 1881 it was given its current name of the medical experimentalist Claude Bernard (1813-1878).

In the 1860s, when No. 77 was 91, Rue des Feuillantines, the three Reclus brothers, Élie, Élisée and Paul  lived here. together. Among the republicans and revolutionaries who visited them were the artist Courbet, the photographer Nadar, the historian Michelet, as well as Proudhon and Bakunin.

Daumier published this cartoon of Nadar on May 25 1863, calling it ‘Nadar raises photogprahy to the level of art’ after Nadar commissioned a balloon builder to build France’s biggest hot-air balloon for him to photograph from.

The earlier Repubiican Socialist and Feminist writer, George Sand, lived from 1864 to 1869 in No. 97 of what was then the Rue des Feuillantines, now No. 90 Rue Claude Bernard.

Rue Claude Bernard about 1905

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Rue de Condé

Arrondissement 6

Numbers 8, 36 The Foyot restaurant

Between 1889 and 1895 French supporters of ‘propaganda by the deed’ mounted a series of bomb and knife attacks on ‘class enemies’ – of which the most notorious were the assassination of the President of France, Sadi Carnot, and the bombing of the National Assembly’s Chamber of Deputies.

A lithograph of the moment of the explosion at the Restaurant Foyot at 36 Rue de Condé on April 4 1894

On April 4 1894 a bomb inside a flower vast exploded next to a Foyot Restaurant window looking onto Rue Condé.

The Foyot restaurant, on the corner of Rue Conde and Rue de Tournon opposite the Luxembourg Palace, was popular with Senators and other wealthy diners.

Laurent Tailhade was a satirical poet and anarchist who had defended Vaillant’s 1893 bombing of the Chamber of Deputies

Only one man was permanently injured: Laurent Tailhade lost an eye. He was an anarchist sympathiser, a poet and a good friend of the art critic, dandy and War Office administrator presumed by the police to have planted the bomb, Félix Fénéon.

Others thought Tailhade might have been targeted by a jilted lover.

Felix Fénéon (1861-1944) was arrested, imprisoned and tried for conspiracy with 29 other anarchists and some known criminals after detonators and mercury were found in his office at the Ministry of War, where he was then a Chief Clerk. The trial in August 1894 found all except three not guilty.

The senators’ favourite local Restaurant Foyot was bombed by an anarchist on April 4 1894

The Restaurant Foyot, the upper part of which was the Emperor Joseph II hotel, was demolished in 1937. Paris magistrates had decided it was structurally unsound, possibly as a result of the bombing 33 years earlier. There is now a tiny garden and paved area opposite the Luxembourg Palace.

Seeing it every time I’m in Paris, just below the window of my late father’s flat, and buying Le Monde there from the elderly, usually grumpy kiosk owner, it was only in reading Hazan (WTP) that the corner’s actual history was brought to life for me.

George Sand and Ledru-Rollin in an engraving called ‘The Handsome Candidate’ from 1848

Further up Rue de Condé, at Number 8, George Sand lived in Maurice’s (her son’s) flat from March to May 1848 when she was editing political texts and posters for Alexandre Ledru-Rollin (1807-1874) at the Luxembourg Palace.

Rue de l’Égalité

Appropriately, in 1792 the Rue de Condé was renamed Rue de l’Égalité. Not too happy a name, however, for Lucile Desmoulins who lived at Number 22 or for Jean-Baptiste le Rebours who was living at Number 28 . Both were executed in 1794.

Lucile Desmoulins married the French revolutionary and journalist Camille Desmoulins in 1790 at the Saint Sulpice church five minutes walk away. Robespierre, who had been briefly engaged to her sister, attended the wedding. On April 5 1794 Lucile was arrested for plotting to release her husband from the Luxembourg Palace, where he had been on trial with Georges Danton: both men were guillotined the same day.

Lucile’s execution followed a week later. She was 24, Camille was 34, Danton was 35, and his statue stands a minute’s walk north up Rue Condé to what is now the Boulevard St Germain, marking the site of his flat before Haussmann demolished it (and a big chunk of the neighbourhood).

Le Rebours, in contrast, was Lord of Saint Mard, a village and estate to the north of Paris. He had been chair of the Royal Court’s Committee of Requests under Louis XVI. Le Rebours was guillotined four days after Robespierre introduced the ‘Great Terror’ law of June 10 1794. This law removed prisoners’ rights to be defended, and determined there should be no delay between accusation and punishment. From then until Robespierre’s own arrest and execution on July 28 1794 the numbers of executions increased to 50 a day.

Inevitably, the Rue de Condé resumed its aristocratic reference to a junior branch of the Bourbons in 1805, just a few months after Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor on December 2 1804.


Quai des Grands Augustins

Arrondissement 6

Numbers: 21, 35, 51, 53bis, 55

This quay was Paris’ first. It was built to prevent continuous flooding by the Paris merchants on the orders of King Philippe and finished in 1389.

George Sand lived on the fifth floor at No. 21 when she first arrived in Paris in 1831.

No. 35 (at the time No. 40) is the site of the bar run by Pierre Leroux‘s parents and where the future first author of the word ‘socialism‘ was born on April 7 1797.

In 1871 the Communard delegates from the Police Headquarters used to meet at the Lapérouse restaurant at No. 51 that dates from 1766 and had been a favourite haunt of Victor Hugo before he went into exile in 1851.

The Communist poet, Paul Éluard spent part of the German occupation of Paris in hiding in the flat belonging to Michel Leiris at No. 53 bis. The flat was also where Picasso‘s surrealist farce, ‘Desire caught by the Tail‘ was first performed on March 19 1944, with the parts being read by de Beauvoir, Sartre, Queneau and Picasso, while being directed by Camus.

In 1828 the young Proudhon was working briefly at the Gauthier printworks in No. 55, the site of the old Augustin monastery that gave the quay its name. This was where Proudhon met Charles Fourier and became aware of his ideas.

The entrance to No. 55, within which in 1828 Proudhon worked briefly as a proof reader and typesetter

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Rue des Mathurins

Arrondissements 8, 9

Number: 10, 26, 38

For centuries before 1881 its name was the New Road of the Mathurins (rue Neuve-des-Mathurins) after a farm that had belonged to Mathurin monks who took the name of the 4th century martyr, Mathurin of Larchant. This Saint was very very popular in the Middle Ages, supposedly because of his prowess in healing madness and anxiety, and was the patron saint of clowns.

Daniel Stern, author of the History of the 1848 Revolution, was Marie d’Agoult. Under the July monarchy (1830-1848) she used to host a salon at No. 10 that was frequented, among many others, by Victor Hugo.

George Sand was living at the Florence private house at No. 26 with Baron Casimir Dudevant when she gave birth to her son, Maurice, on June 30 1823. At the time it was owned by the former head chef of Napoleon. It is now a 3-star hotel called George Sand.

The Michel Theatre founded by Michel Mortier was in the basement of No. 38.

This was frequented by Aragon and Picasso who witnessed a fight there on July 6 1923 when Breton (a future surrealist) broke the arm of Tzara, the leading Dadaist .

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Rue de Seine

Arrondissement 6

Numbers: 16, 31, 60

The road was initially built on part of the moat around the city of Paris walls leading up to the River Seine, and briefly called the Rue du Sénat from 1867 until the fall of Napoleon III.

It’s well known partly because of the Jacques Prévert poem of the same name.

Maximillien Luce, the anarchist sympathiser and friend of Félix Fénéon, had a flat at No. 16 that he lived in when in Paris.

George Sand lived at No 31 in 1831, soon after she embraced republicanism

1830 was a life-changing time for many. George Sand lived at No. 31 in 1831.

De Beauvoir stayed until 1948 in the Lousiane, that became known in the 1950s and 1960s as a very cheap place to stay for American jazz musicians like  Oscar PetersonMiles DavisBud PowellMax RoachDizzy GillespieArt BlakeyBillie HolidayLester Young and Charlie Parker.

After she was excluded from earning a living by teaching in June 1943, Simone de Beauvoir moved with Sartre to live at the Hotel La Louisiane at no. 60. She lived in room 58, Sartre in room 10. They spent their days (when Sartre wasn’t teaching) at the Cafe de Flore.


Rue Taitbout

Arrondissement 9

Numbers: 2, 80

Cafe Tortini
Cafe Tortini at no 2. Louis Blanc lived above it in the 1840s

Named after the three generations of the Taitbout family who successively became Clerks to the Paris Town Office from 1698 to 1775, the road was opened in 1773.

Louis Blanc lived 1842 to 1848 above the Tortini café at No. 2 that was founded by a Venetian migrant initially called Velloni as a cafe and ice-cream parlour in 1804 (sketched above in 1888). It was there that Blanc and his supporters, Louis Greppo, Théophile Thoré and Hippolyte Detours, met on May 14 1848 and decided not to participate in the following day’s protest demonstration against the new government’s refusal to support the Polish revolutionaries.

Many writers, musicians and artists lived at a creative colony of separate houses at No. 80 that was known first as the Cité des Trois-Frères and then as the Square d’Orléans. Rebuilt in classical style and finished in 1841, from 1842 to 1849 Frédéric Chopin lived in No. 9, while George Sand lived on the first floor of No. 5 from 1842 to 1847. The lovers were both visited by many of the period’s celebrities, including Leroux, Honoré de Balzac, Heinrich Heine, Eugène Delacroix, François Arago and the actress Marie Dorval.



Women ready to fight at a barricade in the Rochechouart district in May 1871

From 1791 French feminists argued for their natural rights. In the 1830s and 1840s many women campaigned for equality and the vote. Many saw the 1871 Commune as a route to equality and fought on the barricades. In 1909 a French women’s suffrage movement was established. France’s senate rejects giving women the vote in 1922 , 1935 and 1936. The vote was finally given by the 1945 Fourth Republic constitution. In 1975 women win the right to have an abortion. In 2017 French women’s average wage was still 24% less than men’s, and their pensions are 42% lower.

Marthe Bigot

1878-1962, Montargis (Loiret)

Teacher, feminist, and anti-war activist during World War I. Founder member of the Communist Party, which she left in 1926. A campaigner for female suffrage, she organised women’s candidacies at elections, taking up a pre-war tradition, and in March 1922 presented her own “symbolic candidacy” in the Paris municipal elections; unable to hold her own meetings she demanded speaking rights at those of other candidates, and despite being ineligible as a woman came third in the vote.


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