Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Paris of For The King

While reading For the King, it's almost impossible not being thirsty for more information about one of the main characters of this story: Paris. Like Catherine Delors, I am also completely and utterly in love for this city. I wanted to share, in a very (very!) modest way, a little bit of my passion for Paris. My initial project was to follow some of the excerpts of the book and take photos of the locations myself. With the extreme heat and the lack of time, I finally decided to use other tools and only select a handful of places. There's a bit of everything, history, my favorite spots and just some curiosities. Most of the old images I found are from the 19th century, but they can give us a little idea of what some places used to be compared with the recent photographs.


Night had long fallen on Rue Nicaise. People were beginning to call it Rue Saint-Nicaise again, for the saints were reappearing in everyday language. (page 1)

Rue Nicaise (in red), located in the 1st arrondissement, disappeared in 1853 during the extension of the Rue de Rivoli. The only reason I knew this street was because of the plot against Napoleon. The street was not very far from the Palais Royal. Today you can also visit nearby one of the most known and important museums in the world, the Louvre.


A few hundred yards away, the lights at the windows of the Palace of the Tuileries glowed dim through the fog. (page 1)
Fête by Night at the Tuileries on June 10, 1867 during the Second Empire by Pierre Tetar van Elven.

The Tuileries seen from the Louvre (before 1871)

The Palace of the Tuileries was built under Catherine de Medici orders after the death of Henri II, but she finally never lived there and neither did the following French sovereigns who left the building unfinished. It will be Louis XIV who will take matters into his hands and give the Palace it's imposing figure. It will be the refuge of Maria Antoinette and her children after leaving Versailles. The Tuileries will be the favourite residence of Kings and Emperors until a fire in 1871, during the Paris Commune, destroyed everything leaving the walls and barely anything else. It was finally demolished a few years later... Curiously, there's a national committee who wants to rebuilt the Tuileries which fired up many controversial discussions these past years.


The newspapers had announced that the First Consul was simply to attend the première of The Creation of the World, by Haydn, at the Opera. (page 2)

Théâtre national de l'Opera Comique ou Salle Favart in 1840 and today (below)

Le theâtre national de l'Opéra-Comique also known as “Salle Favart” is an opera house in the 2nd arrondissement, and one of the most important ones in the beginning of the 19th century. I don't know much about it, my fascination over the Opera Garnier ceillings painted by Chagal always makes me forget that other opera houses even exist in Paris. But after reading For the King, I'm very curious about it and I'll certainly visit.


He pushed to the Pont-Royal, the "Liberty Bridge", as the scoundrels now had the impudence to call it. (page 3)

Pont-Royal and the Louvre (left) in 1850 and today (below).

Photo by dalbera under the Creative Commons license.

The Pont-Royal is the 3rd oldest bridge in Paris, after the Pont-Neuf and Pont-Marie. During history the Pont-Royal's name was changed several times: Pont National or even The Pont des Tuileries before regaining its original name. Something I didn't know, there's 37 bridges over la Seine!


He had left the Police Prefecture earlier than usual to reach the tavern of the Mighty Barrel, located on Rue Croix-des-Petits-Champs, in time for dinner. (page 6)

Photo by twiga269 under the Creative Commons license.

A building at the corner of the Rue Croix-des-Petits-Champs.

The Rue Croix-des-Petits-Champs is located in the 1st arrondissement near the Palais Royal, the Louvre and also the Rue du Rivoli, one of the most important commercial streets in town.


L'Hôtel-Dieu was next door, to the side of the cathedral. It had officially been called L'Hospice de la République since the Revolution, but Parisians had never stopped using its old name. (page 19)

19th century print with the old Hotel-Dieu at the right and above you can see how it looks today.

The oldest hospital of Paris, l'Hôtel-Dieu was a place for the poor and destitute. After a fire in 1772 many modifications were made, but the buildings were still too small. Finally during the Second Empire, the Baron Haussmann (also known as the man who modernised Paris) demolished the old hospital and built a new one.

After a half hour Limoëlan had crossed the river over the Pont-Royal and reached Rue Cassette, a genteel street, quite deserted at this time of the night.(...) He pulled a key and let himself into a vast house.(page 33)

Photo by Clio20 under the Creative Commons license.

Photo by Mu under the Creative Commons license.

At the end of the street (first photo), one of most interesting houses of Rue Cassette (6th arrondissement) seen from the Rue Honoré-Chevalier. The street is very near from the Jardins du Luxembourg, one of the most beautiful places in Paris (above).


Roch let himself into a genteel building on Rue de Jouy, on the Right Bank of the Seine. (page 37)

One of the beautiful doors of Rue de Jouy, located in the Marais. Just one street away you can also see one of my favorite places in the neighborhood, the Hotel de Sens (above), today the Forney Library. The 15th century building was owned by the archbishops of Sens and even Marguerite de Valois, la Reine Margot, lived there for about a year. You can see more photos here.

Photo by Pline under the GNU and the Creative Commons license.


Roch returned to the Isle of the Cité and turned right towards the Quai des Orfèvres, the Goldsmiths Embankment. There, on Rue de Jerusalem, behind the main courthouse, the Police Prefecture was housed in a decrepit warren of turrets and unsteady walls, reeking of dry rot, dust, mildew and old paper. (page 39)

Quai des Orfèvres, Palais de justice, and Notre-Dame (4th arrondissement).

Photo by Thbz under the Creative Commons license.

The main entry of the Prefecture de Police.

 You actually have Notre-Dame, the Hôtel Dieu and the Police Prefecture all nearby in the Île de la Cité.
Since the beginning of the Spring until the end of Summer all the island is very crowded. A few minutes away from Notre-Dame you can also visit (even if only a very small part is open to the public), the Conciergerie (above), one of my favourite buildings in Paris and the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century. Used later as a prison, their rooms held famous prisoners like Marie-Antoinette, Charlotte Corday, Robespierre, La Comtesse du Barry, among many others.


Blanche still smiling, held out her hand to Roch.
“I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Sir. Will you do me the honour of calling on me tomorrow night? It will only be a simple musical gathering. I live on Rue de Babylone.” (page 62)

Posted by Marc in the Forum CPA.

Photo by tomoa i under the Creative Commons license.

The first image is actually a postcard probably from the beginning of the century. We cannot see much in the second photo, but, to me, the Rue de Babylone is mostly known because of two things: Le Bon Marché, one of my favorite stores in Paris and La Pagode, one of the most exceptional cinemas in this town with its beautiful garden and Japanese room.


Roch decided to go question the witness and inspect the premises himself . Rue de Paradis, Paradis Street, unpaved and flanked by dingy houses, did not quite live up to its name. (page 84)

Photo by Milliped under the Creative Commons and GNU license.

The Rue de Paradis is located in the 10th arrondissement. At the end of the 19th century the Choisy-le-Roi faience industry of the Boulenger family moved to this street. We can still see some signs of these activities, like the facade of the building above.

Photo by shufgy under the Creative Commons license.


For the King has many details about Paris and some lead us to very surprising discoveries. Again, I only picked up a few locations/buildings but there's many things to explore. This is only a small visit but I do hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

See also:


  1. Very cool, thanks for sharing.

  2. Alex, this was such a great idea for a post! I hope you do get time to go and explore some new places once it cools down a bit for you!

  3. What a wonderful post Alex, it makes you want to go and visit these places. Thank you!

  4. Wow! Alex, this is a labor of love... I am truly honored that FOR THE KING made you research pictures of all these locations. I need to link to this.
    Thanks so very, very much!

  5. It was a real pleasure, Catherine! I wished I had the time to do what I planned in the firsthand... Maybe next time with Mistress of the Revolution.:)