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Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, France

Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, France (Known places)

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Tags: paris (31 pics), france (99 pics)

The Boulevard Saint-Germain is a major street in Paris on the Left Bank (south side) of the Seine river. It curves in a 3.5 kilometer arc from the Pont de Sully in the east (the bridge at the edge of the Île Saint-Louis) to the Pont de la Concorde (the bridge to the Place de la Concorde) in the west and traverses the 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissements. At its midpoint, the Boulevard Saint-Germain is traversed by the north-south Boulevard Saint-Michel. The boulevard is most famous for crossing the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter from which it derives its name.

History

The Boulevard Saint-Germain was the most important part of Haussmann's renovation of Paris (1850s and '60s) on the Left Bank. The Boulevard replaced numerous small streets which approximated its path, including, from West to East (to the current Boulevard Saint-Michel), the rue Saint-Dominique, rue Taranne, rue Sainte-Marguerite, rue des Boucheries, and rue des Cordeliers. One landmark removed to make way for the project was the prison of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés which stood entirely on what is now the Boulevard, just West of what is now the Passage de la Petite Boucherie.

The Boulevard Saint-Germain derives its name from the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés which dates back to the Middle Ages. This area around the boulevard is also referred to as the Faubourg ("Suburb") Saint-Germain which developed around the abbey.

In the 17th century, the Saint-Germain quarter became a major site for noble town houses, or hôtels particuliers. This reputation continued throughout the nineteenth century, where the old aristocracy of the Saint-Germain quarter is frequently contrasted with the new upper bourgeoisie of the Right Bank, having their homes on the Boulevard Saint-Honoré or on the Champs-Élysées (as noted, for example, in the novels of Honoré de Balzac and Marcel Proust).

From the 1930 (89 years ago) on, Saint-Germain has been associated with its nightlife, cafés and students (the boulevard traverses the Latin Quarter. Home to a number of famous cafés, such as Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore, the Saint-Germain quarter was the center of the existentialism movement best associated with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. On Mar. 27, 2000 (19 years ago), this was commemorated by the city of Paris which renamed the area in front of the Saint-Germain Church, at the intersection of the Boulevard Saint-Germain and rue Bonaparte, the Place Jean-Paul Sartre et Simone de Beauvoir.

After the Second World War the Boulevard St. Germain became the intellectual and cultural site for Parisian life. Philosophers, authors and musicians filled the night clubs and brasseries that line the boulevard.

The Boulevard Saint-Germain today is a thriving high-end shopping street with stores from Armani to Rykiel. The cafes continue to be sites for intellectual and political gatherings and the nightlife continues to thrive. Nearby is the Institut d'études politiques (or "Science-Po" for short), one of the finest political science schools in Europe.


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