Maps, The Marais

Paris in the Time of Cholera

Rue de l’Hotel de Ville Paris 75004

Let’s talk deadly epidemics shall we?
Tucked away behind the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) is one of those medieval Paris streets that transports you back in time. And since this portion has been around for a solid 800 years, it might be the closest thing we can get to a legit time machine.

However, you might not want to go back to the year 1832, when Paris was slammed with the Coron.. err Cholera Epidemic.


Within 3 months, there would be 19,000 Parisians dead. This street, known at the time as the Rue de la Mortellerie, was hit the hardest. Of the 4,000 people living there, 304 would perish.
If you understand French (mort = dead) and are sensitive to bad omens, you might say “Well what can you expect with a name like Little Dead Street?”. In fact, the street was given this name in 1212 (!!) because many stone masons (some of whom dealt with mortar, thus giving them the title Morteliers) worked here.

Rue de la Mortellerie in 1550. Its located in the center, vertically lined

In old Paris, many street names were reflected who lived or worked there. Can you guess what inspired the Rue Tire-Boudin (Sausage Puller)?
No, its not a Butcher.
You can still see the passage people living here took to reach the Seine for water, Ruelle des Trois-Maures. (More bad Juju, it sounds like Three Dead in French) It’s been blocked off since 1841, but not for THIS GUY.

No Barrier Can Hold Me Back from HISTORY! (Not much to see except for garbage cans)

So anyways, post-epidemic, the inhabitants of this street petitioned to change the name of their street to something less macabre. In typical Paris admin fashion, it only took the city 3 years to agree and in February 1835 this street was dubbed Rue de la Hotel de Ville.

Rue de la Mortellerie in the 18th century, the orange arrow indicates the Ruelle des Trois Maures

The street was mostly razed 1914 but a few remarkably old buildings still exist at the very end. You can still see the former name Rue de la Mortellerie carved in stone above number 95.

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