All posts by Julien Anido

The tragic fate of the old rue de la Mortellerie (today rue de l’Hôtel de Ville)

In the historic center of Paris, the rue de l’Hotel-de-Ville is a charming little street. Formerly called rue de la Mortellerie, its existence is very old, since we find traces of it since the 12th century. A street that knew a tragic history in the 19th century, which forced it to change its name !

From the 13th century were settled in this street “morteliers” (mortar-makers), workers who made mortar for the masons. A job that required a lot of water and sand, which was offered in abundance by the Seine, a few steps away. At No. 95 rue de l’Hotel-de-Ville is still visible, engraved in the facade of a building, the witness of this past.

Centuries later, in 1832, Paris was hit by a massive cholera epidemic, which killed more than 19,000 people in a few months. The district of the Hotel de Ville was one of the most affected. And, inside this neighborhood, the rue de la Mortellerie suffered a real slaughter. More than 300 dead in this street !

Seeing a link between the name and these tragic deaths (mortel means mortal), the inhabitants asked the name to be modified. This street officially became rue de l’Hotel de Ville in 1835 !

Most beautiful medieval architectures in Paris

Despite its thousand-year history, Paris retains few vestiges of the Middle Ages. The fault with the successive transformations that knew the capital, and in particular the great Haussmannian works of the 19th century, with some radical policies, and with the various troubles related to the history of France, which systematically destroyed a part of the Parisian inheritance.

Despite all these events, a dozen buildings and vestiges dating from the Middle Ages are still visible in Paris, and some can even be visited.

Hôtel de Clisson

Vers 1375 – 1380

Integrated into the Hôtel de Soubise, now home to the National Archives, in the early 18th century, the portal visible at 58 rue des Archives is the only remains of the former Hôtel de Clisson, built in the 14th century by the Constable Olivier de Clisson. Redeemed in 1553 by François de Lorraine, Duke of Guise, this house was the headquarters of the Catholic party during the Wars of Religion.

Salle des Gens d’armes, Conciergerie

1302 – 1313

From the Palace of the Medieval City, former residence of the kings of France, remains the immense and sumptuous hall of the Gens d’armee. Built under Philippe le Bel. At the time, it served as a refectory room for the 2,000 or so employees of the king. Visible during the visit of the Conciergerie.

Maison de Jacques Coeur

vers 1440

Considered as the oldest brick building in Paris, this family home was built by Geoffroy Coeur, son of Jacques Coeur, financier of Charles VII. Much larger at the time, the house was considerably reduced and modified by its successive owners. The facade visible at 38-42 rue des Archives, now a nursery school, remains a fabulous witness of this former family home.

Tour Jean-Sans-Peur

1409 – 1411

The last remnant of the former Parisian palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, the Jean-Sans-Peur Tower owes its name to Jean I of Burgundy, who built this building after having murdered his cousin Louis of Orleans, brother of King Charles VI . Sublime testimony of a princely residence in the Middle Ages, it is also the highest civil medieval tower visible in Paris.

Sainte-Chapelle

1245 – 1248

A marvel of Gothic architecture, the Sainte-Chapelle was built inside the Royal Palace of the City at the request of St. Louis to house the relics of the Passion of Christ, purchased in Constantinople. The chapel high, flooded with light, kept mostly stained glass windows and period sculptures.

Where is Clovis buried ?

Not to make the suspense last longer: there is no clear and definitive answer to this question. But it is very likely that the tomb of the founding sovereign of the French nation is still somewhere buried under the tarmac of rue Clovis, in the 5th arrondissement.

In 501, the first king of the Frankish kingdom built on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève a basilica dedicated to Peter and Paul. He is buried in this basilica at his death in 511, next to his wife Clotilde and St. Genevieve, patroness of Paris. The building was ravaged during the Norman invasions in the 9th century and rebuilt in the 11th century. Would the Vikings have ransacked Clovis’ grave in the meantime? Not sure…

The centuries pass, and the basilica Sainte-Geneviève deteriorates. Left abandoned during the Revolution, the whole is demolished in 1807 during the piercing of Clovis Street. Only the bell tower has been preserved, which you can see from the street inside the Lycée Henri-IV. Thirty-two medieval coffins were found during these works, but, after careful study, none was identified as Clovis.

But where is the tomb of the King of the Franks?

Quite simply, somewhere between the Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church and the Henri-IV high school! Protected under the flagstones, it has probably been protected from the upheavals of the neighborhood, without ever being found so far.

If you have already surveyed the well-known rue Clovis, perhaps you have walked the remains of the most famous Merovingians!

 

Many discoveries exist on and around the rue Clovis, not to miss during your visit of the district:

You can see first of all a remnant of the Philippe-Auguste enclosure, or the last relics of Sainte-Geneviève, in the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church. A few meters away is the Pantheon, or the Arenes de Lutetia, a rare vestige of the Gallo-Roman era in Paris.

Most beautiful modern churches to see in Paris

Rather known for its old churches, Paris also has a rich heritage of modern churches, symbol of development desire of the Catholic Church in the 20th century

A period opened in 1894 with the sumptuous church of Saint-Jean de Montmartre, which reached its peak with the “chantiers du Cardinal Verdier”, where more than 100 churches have been built in the Paris region between 1931 and 1940. Selection of these churches to see in Paris if you want to discover an original architectural and religious heritage.

Notre-Dame-d’Espérance (Paris 11)

Behind the Bastille, the district of La Roquette is a historically working and popular district. To evangelize the workers, more favorable to revolutionary ideals than to Christian fervor, Father Anizan, a pioneer of Catholic action in working-class districts, had a chapel built on rue de la Roquette. Built with medium quality materials, it was completely rebuilt in 1997.

A resolutely modern architecture, to discover for example during a walk in the courtyards and passages of the rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

Notre-Dame-du-Travail (Paris 14)

One of the most original 20th century churches in Paris, Notre-Dame-du-Travail hides behind a rather ordinary facade an exceptional interior.

Built in the early 20th century to welcome the mass of workers newly settled in the 14th arrondissement, its interior decoration, including the use of metal beams, has been designed to offer workers a familiar scenery. Everything here pays homage to work, from the name of the church to the canvases celebrating craftsmen.

More informations about Notre-Dame-du-Travail

Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue (Paris 15)

Built from 1933 to 1935, this church is part of the Chantiers du Cardinal. Outside, a 46 meter high bell tower and a reinforced concrete architecture covered with bricks. Inside, a simple but modern style, adorned with stained glass windows, statues, and carved frescoes.

Église du Saint-Esprit (Paris 12)

Another Church of Chantiers du Cardinal, it is inspired in its general plan of the ancient basilica of Hagia Sophia, celebrating the Byzantine origins of sacred architecture. Behind a rather discreet red brick facade hides a monumental complex, entirely built of reinforced concrete.

A dark atmosphere illuminated by imposing central dome which offers a curious mix of modernity and tradition.

Saint-Christophe-de-Javel (Paris 15)

Built between 1926 and 1934 near the Citroën factory, one of the largest industrial sites in Paris (now the Parc André Citroën), this church is logically dedicated to St. Christopher, patron of travelers.

An original molded cement architecture, the first church built with this method, inspired by Gothic art from the 13th century.

Église Saint-Jean-Bosco (Paris 20)

This church located in the 20th arrondissement is one of the most beautiful achievements of the Chantiers du Cardinal. Sixtieth edifice of this vast operation promoting Catholicism, its contemporary style is inspired by the Art Deco, architectural movement very popular at the time of its construction.

More information about l’église Saint-Jean-Bosco.

The curiosities of La Madeleine

The church of the Madeleine is a paradoxical monument. All Parisians know it, but very few have visited it. A symbol of Paris whose history and inner richness remain unknown, but deserves to be discovered.

An eventful construction

Begun under Louis XV, in 1764, the church of the Madeleine had to replace an old church, located at the 8 boulevard Malesherbes current, and which could not accommodate the growing population of the district.

In 1777, on the death of the architect in charge of the yard, his pupil imagined a new project and undertook important modifications, until the French Revolution stopped the works.

In 1806, Napoleon decided to create in Paris a temple to the glory of the soldiers of the Grande Armée on the site of the Madeleine. The previous construction was razed to build the new monument. But the work, again, progressed slowly, and the temple project dedicated to the armies was abandoned in favor of the Arc de Triomphe. The monument was returned to Catholic worship in 1816, and the work was completed only in 1842.

It took 78 years to build this church!

A church, or a temple?

It is because of the Napoleonic project to make a temple to the glory of the French Armies whose architecture is inspired by Greco-Roman architecture, that this church does not have much … a church. You will not see any crosses or belfries on the outside, nor transept or aisles on the inside.

The fresco of Ziegler

In the half-dome above the altar is visible a large fresco, made by Jules Ziegler between 1835 and 1837. Named (soberly …) History of Christianity, it brings together around Christ the great characters who have marked the Christianity of the East (on his right), and of Occident (on his left).

To note that in the middle of the fresco appears Napoleon in large cloak dotted with golden bees, to which the bishop of Genoa gives the text of the Concordat. The Madeleine is the only Parisian church where appears on a fresco the figure of Napoleon.

Prestigious burials

More recently known for the very popular funeral of Johnny Halliday, the Madeleine welcomed in the 19th century the funeral of another musical star: Frédéric Chopin. Another style, certainly …

On October 30, 1849, 3,000 people, mainly artists and men of letters, attended the ceremony during which Mozart’s Requiem and the Funeral March were performed. After which the procession, accompanied by thousands of Parisians, transported the tomb of the composer and pianist to the cemetery of Père-Lachaise, where he still rests today.

Napoleon’s statue : the long journey to the Invalides

Located in the Invalides courtyard since 1911, the famous statue of Napoleon has had a tumultuous journey before arriving there. Originally made for the Vendome column, it was moved several times, depending on political changes or wars. To the point of losing the head…

This portrait, which is the work of the sculptor Emile Seurre, is one of the most famous images of Napoleon Bonaparte. With his hand on his stomach, dressed in his frock coat and bearing the famous bicorn hat, this representation of the “petit Corporal” was used a lot to symbolize Napoleon as a military hero.

Commissioned by King Louis-Philippe, this sculpture was inaugurated in 1833 Place Vendôme to replace an statue of Napoleon dressed as a Roman Emperor. 30 years later, Napoleon III, who wanted to restore the imperial image of his uncle, removed it. It was therefore installed at the end of the historic axis of Paris, at the rond-point de Courbevoie.

The Franco-Prussian war broke out in 1870. The population recovered the statue to protect it from fighting. But while it was travelling on the Seine on a boat, it fell into the water. Fished out 4 months later, it was found in two pieces. During the fall, the head had separated from the body!

It has been finally installed in the main courtyard in 1911. It is even said that the head visible today would not be the original one. A mystery that adds to the legendary story of this statue…

6 (good) reasons to visit the 5th arrondissement

Oldest district of Paris, the 5th arrondissement is also one of the most charming. Thanks to its picturesque streets, its emblematic monuments and the variety of discoveries it proposes, it is an  unmissable when visiting Paris. 

  1. Historical richness

Paris has kept few traces of the Roman era. The only two vestiges still visible, the Thermes de Cluny and the Arènes de Lutèce, are in the 5th arrondissement.

Symbol of the French Republic – and of the French Revolution – the Pantheon is a must for any lover of History, famous for its majestic dome, and the great figures it is home to.

2. Meet Sainte-Geneviève

Sainte-Geneviève is not only the name of the little mountain on which the Pantheon dominate. Patron saint of Paris, her story is closely linked to the 5th arrondissement. It is also in the magnificent church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont that you can see the last relics of the Saint.

3. Its original places of worship

In addition to the Pantheon and the Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church, the 5th arrondissement is home to originals religious monuments. The Mosque of Paris first, whose superb patio and Oriental offer an exotic journey.

The church Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre then, one of the oldest churches in Paris, dedicated since 1889 to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. A diversity of styles and influences that make this church one of the most original in Paris.

4. The garden of plants

More than just a garden, the Jardin des Plantes, one of the oldest in France, founded in the 17th century, is a scientific museum. Botanical garden, medicinal plants, alpine garden, rose garden … Its 23 hectares of greenery are an invitation to discover nature and its diversity.

A place particularly suitable for children, since you will also find the Great Gallery of Evolution (dedicated to the evolution of the living world), as well as a zoo.

5. Rue Mouffetard

Traced on an old Roman road that led to Italy via Lyon, rue Mouffetard is one of the oldest streets in Paris. An quite touristy address , which has preserved nevertheless many traces of the past and deserves a stroll, from the pretty place of the Contrescarpe to the church Saint-Médard.

The oddity of the Louvre that no one notices

Eight centuries old, the Louvre and its architecture is full of stories and anecdotes. There is one, however, that nobody notices. To see this unusual detail, head to the Place du Carrousel and look at the “guichets du Louvre”, large windows that provide access to the Seine.

Head to the Lesdiguières Pavilion and look up. You will notice at its top a lantern with a weather vane.

Do not you see anything odd? It’s not obvious, but the “N” around the lantern are all upside down. Simple mistake?

Most of the architecture you can see all around you when you are between the Louvre Pyramid and the Arc de Triomphe of the Carrousel dates back to Napoleon III. Largest builder (with Louis XIV) in the history of the Louvre, he doubled the surface of the Palace, modified the oldest parts , and tried to complete the project led by the kings of France since the 16th century.

The demolition of a part of the Grande Galerie du Louvre (Seine side) offered the architect of Napoleon III, Lefuel, the opportunity to build a monumental passage to circulate between the palace and the Seine. The windows of the Louvre are built, and the pavilion Lesdiguières is decorated with the monogram of Napoleon III, as the Rohan Pavilion, which faces it, and gives access to the Rue de Rivoli. But if the “N” oh Rohan Pavilion is normal, that of Lesdiguières is reversed. A “mistake” that have been unnoticed for more than a century, discovered in 1986, during François Mitterand’s works !

Simple mistake or anti-Napoleonic symbol ? We really don’t know… Some see the wish of a Republican worker to overthrow the imperial regime, other the simple expression of an aversion (“aversion” is said “haine” in French, that sounds like “N”) of the Emperor…

Bateaux-Mouches: the best boat trips along the Seine

Cruises on the Seine are a fabulous way to discover Paris, its history, and its heritage. For this, different formulas exist. From the simple boat trip along the Seine to the romantic dinner, you will find below all the information to choose your cruise, and the possibility to book your tickets online.

Cruises on the Seine

Explore Paris with the famous Bateaux Mouches, strolls allowing you to fully appreciate the city from a whole new perspective. The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Ile de la Cité and Notre-Dame Cathedral, place de la Concorde, the Musée d’Orsay … Guided tours offer you great point of views on the greatest monuments of Paris. Also the opportunity to learn some anecdotes about Paris and its history, while enjoying the magnificent architecture along the Seine.

Buy your tickets online. E-tickets can be used on any date at the time of your choice.

Dinner Cruise

Romantic getaway or convivial moment with friends or family, dinner cruises allow you to discover the magic of Paris by night while enjoying panoramic views.