Boulevard des Italiens

Arrondissements 2, 9

Numbers: 2, 8, 9, 19, 22, 30

Boulevard des Italiens by Gustave Caillebotte (1880)

One of the ‘Great Boulevards’ in a wealthy part of Paris, it was built on the allotments outside the city when in 1670 Louis XIII’s wall around Paris was declared obsolete. Initially called the ‘New Boulevard’ and then the ‘Depot Boulevard’ (after the 1764 regimental arms depot there). It was finally named after the Italian Theatre built there in 1783 that is now occupied by the Comic Opera.

Even numbers are in the Ninth arrondissement, while odd numbers are in the Second.

From December 1919 to 1923 Louis Aragon and André Breton with other surrealists used to meet regularly in the Café Certà at No. 2. This address was in the ‘Passage de l’Opéra‘ – two parallel galleries of cafés and shops first built in 1822 and demolished in 1925.

The Mulhouse bar was based at No. 8. In March 1848 meetings of the German democratic association used to take place here, attended, among others by Karl Marx and Ludwig Feuerbach.

Ironically, on the other side of the Boulevard, at No. 9, in 1942 to 1943 the Vichy government tried unsuccessfully to recruit French workers to work voluntarily in Germany.

Crédit Lyonnais’s headquarters was built between 1876 and 1913 in the grand Haussmann style. This didn’t stop it experiencing a strike and occupation in 1968

Arlette Laguiller, who became the first woman to stand for President of France as a candidate of the Trotskyist Lutte Ouvriere sect in 1974, led a strike and occupation in 1968 at the Credit Lyonnais headquarters at No. 19 in 1968. The building had been the first in Paris to be lit by electricity in 1876.

Louis Blanc lived above the Tortoni café at No. 22 for a period.

No. 30 was the site of a bomb left by the anarchists Action Directe against the Israeli Leumi bank on 13 April 1985.

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