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Five legendary shopping passages in Paris

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Connoisseur's Guide · Europe · france · Paris · Five legendary shopping passages in Paris

Cour du Commerce St-André

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

Cour du Commerce St-André

The Cour du Commerce St. Andre contains the essence of Paris' turbulent history. It has been located there since 1776 and its higgledy-piggledy cobblestones, which could easily ensnare the heel of your shoe, have remained since that time. Lord knows what this little street, which joins the Rue Saint-André des Arts and the Rue de l'Ancienne Comédie, has experienced in its time! Among its inhabitants was one of the leaders of the French Revolution, Georges-Jacques Danton, although the building in which he lived no longer exists. It was demolished during the Haussmann period (1854-1858), when the legendary Boulevard Saint-Germain was built.

At house No. 8 was a printing press that published L'Ami du Peuple, a newspaper headed by another extremist of the French Revolution - journalist and political theorist Jean-Paul Marat. Calling himself a friend of the poor, he turned against opponents of the revolution in a radical manner. There's a colourful episode associated with his death; he was murdered in his own bath with a kitchen knife by Charlotte Corday, another revolutionary activist, who faced the guillotine soon after. During her trial, she said that by killing one person, she saved 100 000 from death, echoing Maxilmilien Robespierre's words before the execution of King Louis XVI.

Among other things, the most famous episodes in the history of the Cour du Commerce are directly linked with the guillotine. Although Joseph Guillotin didn't invent the device, it was he who promoted what he thought to be the most humane method of implementing the death sentence, which he actually opposed. In 1792, in the cellar of house No.9 in this passage, he began some experiments with the apparatus, lopping off the heads of live sheep. He asserted that the condemned would feel only the breeze of the blade rushing down towards their necks, and no more. The guillotine was used as France's main form of execution until 1977.

Today, the Cour du Commerce is the epicentre of both small shops and cafés. The passage also contains the oldest café in Paris, Le Procope, which opened its doors in 1686. Among its regulars were Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Oscar Wilde and George Sand. Paris' best chess players gathered there for chess matches, with the other café patrons enthusiastically watching. The café was restored during the 1980s and now looks as it did in the 18th century. Having lunch here is just like having lunch in a museum. Not far away is the classic Brasserie Relais-Odéon, which is always full of customers, and the wonderful chocolate shop/restaurant Un Dimanche à Paris, owned by Pierre Cluizel, the member of a famous French family of chocolate masters.

Rue Saint-André des Arts and Rue de l'Ancienne Comédie

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