Time travel: History of the Rue Saint-Honoré
Rue Saint-Honoré is a very old street, the continuation of a Roman road. It owes its present name to a chapel dedicated to Honoré d'Amiens, built between 1204 and 1209, and wish no longer exist.
The Saint-Honoré church appears on the Turgot plan of 1739. It was destroyed after the French Revolution in 1792.
We have a 17th-century document showing the Palais Cardinal, as it was built by Cardinal Richelieu. The building appears to have changed little in appearance, and is located 500 meters away from the Relais Saint-Honoré. Today, it is called the Palais Royal and is shown in the engraving, on the side of the Conseil d'État, in the central foreground. The Opera House can be seen at the far end. It was Molière's theater, which burned down in 1763 and again in 1771.
Fire at the Opéra on April 6, 1763. It was rebuilt in 1770, but burned again on June 8, 1771
Let's fast-forward a few more years, to 1795. We're 50 meters from the Relais Saint-Honoré. A Royalist rebellion was crushed on October 5, 1795 in front of the church of Saint Roch. The buildings depicted on this anonymous engraving still exist today.
We are now in 1865, on the corner of rue Saint-Honoré and rue de la Ferronnerie. The site has been completely transformed by the construction of the Rue des Halles and the Rue du Pont-Neuf in 1866.
Rue Saint-Honoré, rue de la Ferronnerie – Charles Marville – 1865
Photo by Charles Marville circa 1868 - Musée Carnavalet
Three years later, in May 1871, major events would turn the city upside down: the Commune insurection. Let's move on to rue Saint-Honoré from rue Castiglione. The insurectionnists of the Paris Commune erected barricades to protect the Place Vendôme from the charge of the Versaillais (regular army). Repression by the army was severe.
Let's program our time machine again and go to 1888, near the Louvre. We see a building that still exists today. It houses a department store that has now disappeared: Les Grands Magasins du Louvre.
The origins of the Grands magasins du Louvre date back to 1855. It claimed to be the world's largest department store. It closed its doors for good in 1971. Part of the site will soon be occupied by the Fondation Cartier, which is relocating its museum to Boulevard Raspail.
We can now move on to 251 rue Saint-Honoré. It was the Nouveau Cirque address from 1886 to 1926. The innovative concept was an arena that could be transformed into a swimming pool in just a few minutes. The building was demolished. Today, the Mandarin Oriental Palace occupies this address.
The new circus, left foreground, ca. 1890-1900
Let's move towards our time. We're in 1908, at 95 rue Saint-Honoré, in front of a facade that still exists: A la renommée des Herbes cuites. It's one of the most beautiful old façades in Paris. Its first floor is occupied by the restaurant Le bistrot du 1er, which is well worth a visit.
Au Bourdon d'Or – Eugène Atget 1908
Let's continue our journey. At the end of August 1944, in the final days of the liberation of Paris, a many individuals, including both civilians and other armed members of the Forces françaises intérieures, were watching machine-gun firing exercises. The demonstration took place in the Rue Saint-Honoré, transformed into a barricade for the occasion.
And we end at Number 308, rue Saint-Honoré. This 17th-century building was rented to Jean de La Fontaine from 1672 to 1793 by Madame de La Sablière. La Fontaine's Fables are considered one of the masterpieces of French literature. This building is the Relais Saint-Honoré.