The medieval in Paris!!!

And here we go deep , really back,no not in my blog, but in Paris, it is old you know. We seems to think after all those novels, and movies that Paris started in the 1920’s but is actually way back. We think of French history and is old, but really it goes way back. And I did a couple of posts on the medieval in Paris but wil condense, update in this post.  You can see my post on the wonderful Cluny elsewhere in my blog. This was to be a black and white post but found a couple believe not in the post as yet that coincide with this post!!!

When searching for old Paris, nothing can get any better than the areas around Cluny, Sens, and the Village Saint Paul. All on both side of the Seine river in the  rive droite or right bank  or rive gauche or left bank of Paris.

And if we come into the medieval in Paris , we see that is not surprising that the Seine river separates three parts of medieval Paris. These were the Center, Cité, and Seine island who was the religious center of the city with the Royal Palace on the east, University on the south and on the north the population with the shops etc. In the Cité, with the justice palace of today occupied until king  Charles V  that today we have the Holy Chapel or Sainte Chapelle ,and the Conciergerie. You have the Hôtel Saint Pol, built by  Charles V, the hôtel des Tournelles, royal residence of kings  Charles VIII to Henri II. Notre Dame Cathedral as well as the Churches of  Saint Germain l’Auxerrois, Saint Gervais, Saint Julien, big abbeys like that of Sainte Geneviève, and Saint Marcel.

paris conciergerie across seine jul09

By the rue Saint-Denis (1éme), former rue des Triomphes, that was the old road to the Saint-Denis Basilica where the kings are buried, you had the fountain or  fontaine des Innocents done by the Mérovingiens kings. In 1187, king Philippe Auguste ordered built a wall to separate the neighboring markets and had built two buildings for the market which were eventually closed in 1780 for sanitary conditions.  Two million parisians are buried and their bones carried into the catacombes under the place called Tombe-Issoire (14éme). In the Marais, at the  rue des Jardins-Saint-Paul ,king Philippe Auguste ordered built a fortified wall around 1190 to 1209 before departing to the crusades. The remains of this wall of about 5,1 km long and 9 meters high with a tower of 60 meters high such as the tour Montgomery to the poterne Saint-Paul are to be seen in the sport field in the Jardins-Saint-Paul.

The wooden houses with a typical architecture of the north of France and covered with plasters from the 17C to limit the risks of fire and later demolished in the 19C under Baron Haussmann ; you can still see some traces along  Rue François-Miron, two houses at No 11 and 13.  The plaques on the door tells you for the mower teacher or the enseigne du Faucheur ,and  the lambs teacher or the enseigne au mouton ; medieval house at No  12  of the rue des Barres on the angle of the rue du Grenier-sur-l’Eau.  The current youth lodging is the house of the Abbey of Maubuisson when they were in town it is at no 44-46 rue François-Miron.  The seat today of the historical Paris association is an old home that was owned by Cistercian monks from the abbey of Notre-Dame d’Ourscamp, received in donation in 1248; the current house dates from the end of the 16C with a surprise in the basement a cellar from the 13C of about 200 square meters; this house of d’Ourscamp had a treasury , a court of wood.  At the Rue des Archives, facade in bricks from the 15C is now an elementary school at  38- 42  before house a noble family member of  Jacques Cœur, the financier of the king Charles VII, that was for him ,himself originally from Bourges, seems never occupied it. The location is strange as the house was at rue de l’Homme-Armé, a street gone today after the enlargement of the  rue des Archives in the 19C.

You can easily trace a route on foot from the cour Carrée du Louvre and the donjon or fortress of the Louvre (now the museum) you come up and cross the street rue de l’Admiral de Coligny, and voilà you are in front of the Church of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois, one of the oldest in Paris. The tower next to it does not belong to the church but to the mayors office of the 1er arrondissement or district of Paris and built in the 19C. Better see the gothic porch in front of the church of flamboyant gothic style the only in Paris together with the Sainte-Chapelle. The royal family came many times to pray here,and about this time going on the quai de la Mégisserie along the Seine was the territory of the tanners and saddle makers.

By today’s pont du Change (old Grand-Pont) you have the great meatcutters area after being sold the animals from the nearby Champeaux (today Les Halles). The Church of Saint Jacques only remains the tower or Tour Saint-Jacques today. If coming back to the place du Chatelet you can imagine there once stood the Grand Châtelet ,a huge fortress where the provost of Paris lived and was raze in the First Empire period (Napoleon I). A bit down you will come to the place de la Gréve where stands the Hôtel de Ville. The most important harbor port of the city was here as boats load and discharge merchandise on the Seine.

One of my most marvel buildings is near the place de la République near the old port des Célestins stands the magnificent Hôtel de Sens, 1 rue de Figuier (today its the library Forney since 1961 (see post)). It has French style gardens and flamboyant  architecture style. The archbishop of Sens Tristan de Salazar ,made built his residence from 1475 to 1519 here. The famous queen Margot was one of its residents, and at less than 100 mèters (130 ft) the lycée (High School) Charlemagne where the kids played football (soccer) at the foot of the oldest longest remaining old fortress wall of Paris built by king Philippe Auguste(bordering the rue des jardins-Saint-Paul)  ,just in front of the Church of Saint Paul Saint Louis, and behind the beginnings of the Village Saint Paul, where the stores are now in the old garden of king Charles V that used to lived in the Hôtel Saint Pol destroyed in the 16C.

You can continue your walk towards rue Figuier et de Fourcy to reach rue François-Miron, and from here the rue des Archives where at No 58 you will see the door of Hôtel de Clisson (built 1371 and now the national archives museum). A bit down at No 24 rue des Archives a door hides the only medieval cloister still in Paris, this is the Cloître des Billettes with its magnificent flamboyant ceilings , something to come and see.

Moving now towards the rive gauche or left bank , you can continue see the old fortified walls of Paris of king Philippe Auguste. At No 27 rue Mazarine you can come to the basement of the public parking second lower level to see the wall for several meters. At No 34 rue Dauphine, a kino medical cabinet occupies an old wall where you can see the foundations coming to the cellars of the building (need permission from the private cabinet but usually granted),and you need a flashlight. At the window of the old Maison de la Catalogne (house of Catalunya) on No 4 cour du Commerce-Saint-André.  Cross over the carrefour de l’Odéon and go up rue de l’Ecole-de-Médecine to the old convent of Cordeliers (know by a rope monks carried around their waist) ,where the teaching were done even before the Sorbonne and where Danton had its club des Cordeliers in 1790.

At the other side of boulevard Saint-Michel you see the Hôtel de Cluny (see post)  ,another middle ages look in Paris.  It was the Paris residence of the abbeys of Cluny in Burgundy, it is a building from the end of the 15C and was build to put together all their colleges (first were by place de la Sorbonne) and their gardens (near the Thérmes). It now houses the museum of the Middle Ages at 6 place Paul-Painlevé, 5éme.  The temperatures are kept at 55% humidity levels constant, the tapisseries are hit with a low light as well as the Lady in the Unicorn, and temp are kept by room depending on the expose article. Do you know the American series Les Sopranos was filmed here? A must place to visit in Paris.

I did it all on my own with locals and family who works at the mairie or mayor’s office of Paris, but there are many good guides such as those shown in the city of Paris webpage:

More general information from the Paris tourist office on medieval Paris:

Hope you have enjoy this little walking tour of medieval Paris!!! We love to walk this wonderfully beautiful city, not the glitter but the architecture and history in most of its buildings is awesome. A truly romantic place where anyone can fall in love, I did in 1990!!! Paris is eternal even back in medieval times!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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