When the 16th arrondissement refused to be the 13th
Before the annexation of the “suburbs” of Paris in 1860 (Bercy, Montmartre, Auteuil, Vaugirard, Charonne …), the capital had only 12 arrondissement. A saying used to say that couples cohabiting had been “married in the 13th district’s city hall.”
At the expansion of Paris, the new numbers gave to the bourgeois districts of Passy and Auteuil the 13th district. An infamous number that the rich people refused. The 13th district will be then given to a poor area, around Saint-Marcel.
Numbers of Paris and the Seine
Lost looking for a building number in Paris? The city has planned everything!
Indeed, when the street is perpendicular (or oblique) to the Seine, the first number starts at the street entrance located the closest the Seine. If the street is parallel to the river, the numbers follow the course of the Seine (from east to west).
A street name that changed a lot
The pretty rue du Pelican (Pelican street), next to the Louvre and the Palais Royal, is a transformation of its original name : rue du Poil au Con (Twat hair street). Located just behind the Philippe Auguste wall, it was part of the streets where prostitution was legal under Louis IX (St. Louis).
From 1786 was in the Palais Royal gardens a “solar gun”, created by a watchmaker who had a shop in the galleries of the Palais. To indicate noon to strollers, the bronze cannon installed on the meridian line of Paris worked thanks to a glass that caused the burning wick on sunny days.
A gun that was considered the best in Paris to set his watch at “midi pétante”, a famous french expression meaning “at fire 12”.
When Halles were still the “belly of Paris”, market gardeners from Bretagne sold their vegetables wrapped in large pullover knitted by their wives. A clothe that parisian called “chandail”, that is an abreviation of “marchand d’ail”, meaning “garlic merchant”. Chandail is an old word to mean pullover.
French expression call policeman “poulet” (chicken)
During the Paris Commune (1871), the buildings of the police burn. Jules Ferry, Mayor of Paris, give them an ancient barrack located on the Île de la Cité. A barrack built on the site of the former poultry market…
Soon, the nickname “chicken” appeared.
The Shortest street in Paris
Rue des Degrès is the shortest street in Paris (5.75 m long / 3.30 m wide). And it is not really a street, but a stair made of only 14 steps. This “street” connects the Rue de Clery to Beauregard Street, near the Grands Boulevards.