I thought I had finished with the Quartier Latin, Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the 6th arrondissement for a while, but HPY asked me for some news concerning Rue de Seine, so I went back! The street may not have anything very spectacular to show at a first sight, but I would say it’s clearly worth a visit.
Rue de Seine, or at least the part of it close to the Seine, is one of the oldest still existing streets in Paris, dating from at least the 13th century, now and then under different names. You can use it on your way from Saint Germain des Prés to e.g. the Louvre, or the other way, on the way from the Louvre. You cross the pedestrian bridge “Pont des Arts”, which connects the Louvre and the “Institut de France” which is the building where different French academies, including the famous “Académie Française”, meet under the “coupole”. The building dates from 1688.
Rue de Seine starts just behind the “Institut”. (In Paris, the street no. 1 is always for the building closest to the Seine.) This first half of the street (top picture) is the oldest and the historically most interesting part. The upper part was opened only during the 19th century, connecting with rue de Tournon, opening in front of the Palais de Luxembourg, today housing the French senate. (Here, a comparison between 1734 and today.)Just behind the “Institut”, you will first find two small squares with some statues, including the ones of Voltaire and of Montesquieu. This first part of the street was formerly occupied by some castle like buildings (including for Queen Margot, the first wife of Henry IV). The present buildings are mostly from the 17th century and many of them have been inhabited by - at least in France - well known personalities, like Saint Vincent de Paul, d’Artagnan, Armande Béjart (Molière’s widow), Beaudelaire… For our Polish friends I would like to make a special mention for Adam Mickiewicz who lived here when he published his famous” Pan Tadeusz” (1834). During the 17th century you could find not less than ten “jeu de paume” courts along the street. (Maybe a parenthesis to recall some details regarding the “jeu de paume”, the predecessor to lawn tennis and some other ball games: The points were already counted 15, 30, 40 and the word “deuce” comes from the French "à deux", indicating that two points must be won consecutively to win the game. Also the word “love” obviously comes from “l’ouef” – the egg - , the oval shape of the egg being a symbol for "0." Finally, the word “tennis” of course comes from “tenez” = take it, be ready…, which was the word the gentlemen (ladies hardly played those days) used to indicate that they were serving.)
There is more to be said about this street and its today’s life. I will revert to that tomorrow.
Some of the above pictures can be found on my photo blog.