Under its earlier name of the Grande rue d’Auteil, No. 24 was the private house of Mme Helvétius , whose salon from 1772 to 1800 was visited by Diderot, Turgot, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine as well as by Napoléon Bonaparte.
The Auteuil hamlet was close to the vast forest of Rouvray of which today the only remains are the Bois de Boulogne.
Under the Second Empire the house at 59 rue d’Auteuil was owned by the Emperor’s cousin, Pierre Bonaparte, and was where he shot and killed the unarmed young journalist Victor Noir on January 10 1870. Pierre Bonaparte was quickly found not guilty after a trial heard from several conjured up witnesses, while Noir was buried in Neuilly – and only removed as a Republican symbol to Paris’ Père-Lachaise in 1891.
Tens of thousands of outraged republicans, including Louise Michel dressed as a man and carrying a knife, marched in his funeral cortege.
Nothing remains of the superb original building, which was burnt to the ground by the Communards in May 1871. There is now only a huge apartment block at the spot.
However, somewhat ironically, the chemist shop at No. 27, just down the street, where Noir finally died at 2 pm in the afternoon, is now called ‘Body Minute’.
Living further up the street in 1848, at Nos. 63-73, was Louis-Philippe’s vehemently anti-Republican prime minister, François Guizot,.
Opened in 1804 this world famous cemetery gets its name from Louis XIV’s Jesuit priest confessor from 1675 to 1709, François d’Aix de La Chaize. This was the period when the Sun King, having decided that anyone who was not a Catholic was the ‘enemy within’, revoked the 1598 Edict of Nantes that had tolerated protestants. While discriminatory measures took off from 1661, persecutions intensified from 1679 leading up to the 1685 revocation in the Edict of Fontainebleau. One per cent of the population, some 200,000 Huguenots were then forced out of France.
In 1780, finally, all cemeteries within the city walls were closed. As Consul Napoleon decreed that cemeteries should be open to all faiths and to the poor as well as the rich. In 1803 the land on the hill was acquired by the Prefect of the Seine department and the design of the cemetery entrusted to Alexandre-Theodore Brongiart.