Ever wanted to time travel to historic Paris? Well I can’t offer you a DeLorean or mind altering drugs, but I can give you the next best thing; pictures! Scroll through the images below to see how little (or a lot) Paris has changed over the last few hundred years.
“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.”Thomas Jefferson
Sandwiched between the Boulevard Saint Germain and the Pantheon is the Rue de Lanneau, which first appeared on Paris maps in the 12th century..
This is one of the few medieval streets that was spared from the massive 18th century Haussmann topographical Paris facelift that leveled entire historic neighborhoods throughout the city.
You can find some of the oldest buildings in Paris here, with several dating to the 16th century.
One even has caves where vestiges of Roman baths still remain..
I love coming down this lively street, which is one of the oldest of Paris having been spared from the Haussmann destruction of the 19th century. It’s even mentioned in 13th century documents, which means it was around to witness the start of the nearby Notre Dame Cathedral.
Public baths weren’t just a fixture in Roman Classical Antiquity- as recent as 1978 one in four Paris apartments didn’t even have a bathroom! These particular showers were open from Thursday to Friday 9am to 730pm, Saturday 7am to 8pm, and Sunday 630am to 130pm.
Another Mouffetard comparison photo, however the modern version was taken during the pandemic confinement when I was really aching for the busy, lively street seen here in 1925
Rue Jacob during the historic Paris flood in 1910 compared to today. Contrary to what you might read online, those are not books floating in the street- its wood! Many streets used to be paved with wood rather than rock or cement. Today only a few streets like this remain in the city.
The medieval fortification wall that was built to surround and protect Paris in the 14th century may no longer exist, but there are still bits and pieces of it to remind you of its existence hidden around the city. On Rive Droit, the Saint Denis “doorway” still exists and this lively, wide street follows the traces of the old wall. The original gate was more imposing and less decorative, but it was rebuilt with this Triumphal Arch you see today on the command of King Louis XIV in the 1670’s. According to legend, the Sun King liked to play the 17th century version of Ding Dong Ditch here, pissing off the guards who had to lower the drawbridge each time he would ring the giant bell before running away with glee.
View of the Rue de la Montagne Saint Geneviève in the 5th arrondissement of Paris taken around 1915 and today.
The road we see here was formed in the 13th century, but has been around in one way or another for 2,000 years, back from the days when Paris was known as Lutecia and inhabited by Romans.
Named after the 5th century Saint Geneviève, this is the street she took to reach the monastery that used to be at the top of the hill, behind the church Saint Etienne du Mont (seen in the first two photos) of which only a tower remains today, in the grounds of the famous Henry IV high school.
Quai des Orfèvres 1840 VS 2022
So much has changed in nearly 200 years, yet we still can identify landmarks of the past: like the Orfèvres Dock, Saint Chapelle Spire, Piggly Wiggly, Notre Dame, and Saint Michel Bridge..