Le Temple



At the end of our tour in the medieval Paris, on the right bank, we have reached the Temple district. For me, this district reminds me when I was going with my great grand-father,  a watchmaker who was getting his supplies in this district dedicated in the past to the watch parts and jewellery. When the weather was nice, we were usually making a stop at the Temple public garden.
For many Parisians, the Temple district will remind the Carreau du Temple, a second-hand clothing market that I have never known.  This popular market declined in the Seventies and was transformed in 2004 into a cultural multipurpose space, after nearly having become a car park.

A walk during the week is usually peaceful compared to the liveliness in the evenings and week-ends, much to the annoyance of the inhabitants … Whatever, either by day or by night, we are very far away from Atget's time, even more from the knights Templar's time. The tragic events that also took place during the French Revolution does not seem to affect the party-goers, obviously unfeeling the negative vibes from the past.

With this tour, we will go along the Temple enclosure and in the old streets part of the Temple area. More especially, following Atget's steps we will stop at:

*        77, rue du Temple
*        16, rue Dupetit-Thouars
*        2, rue de la Corderie
*        12, rue Portefoin - Hôtel Turgot
*        14, rue Portefoin - Hôtel de Breteuil
*        83, rue des Archives
*        Marché des Enfants-Rouges rue de Bretagne

79 et 81, rue des Archives
*        Hôtel de Tallard – 78, rue des Archives
*        Rue Pastourelle - Impasse Sourdis
*        61, rue des Archives
*        72, rue des Archives
*        Fountain - 1, rue des Haudriettes, 53 rue des Archives
*        7, rue de Braque
*        8 bis, rue de Braque
*        45, rue des Archives

La rue du Temple

La rue du Temple was leading to the vast estate owned by the powerful knights Templar. Their Order, both religious and military, was initially founded in 1118 by  nine knights in order to protect the pilgrims to the Holy Land and to defend the Holy Sepulchre.
The Templar has been named  from the house, close to the ancient Solomon's Temple that Beaudoin II, King of Jerusalem, assigned to them. The Templars, as much soldiers as monks, had to take a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience, following the Saint-Bernard's strict rule. However, the number of gifts bestowed upon them during the crusades made them very wealthy. Over time, even after their military involvement ended, they nevertheless maintained their prestige and received many gifts and privileges granted by kings, one of which being tax exemption.

When the Templars came back to France, their military power transformed into a financial power. It can be read that they owned over nine thousand castles across Europe. By 1140, they settled in Paris, close to today's Hôtel de Ville, rue de Lobau where they drained the swamps on the northern fringe of Chaussée Saint-Antoine; then in the middle of the 12th century they moved more to the North on a wide territory. In this land, in the middle of the fields, they built a cloister protected by walls and a huge dungeon.
The enclosure – l'enclos du Temple – grew into a small city inside Paris with many privileges. Anybody having crossed the drawbridge was getting protection against a sum of money to be paid to the Grand Master's collector. In 1307, Philip IV of France – Philip the Fair – in need of money, seized their possession and accused the Order of heresy. The Templars were tortured by the Inquisition and forced to confess being devil  worshippers, while the Templar holdings were confiscated. 
After more than six years in jail, the Grand Master of the Temple, Jacques de Molay  was again questioned and finally burned at stake on a small island in the Seine, the Ile des Juifs (The Jews Island), today Place Dauphine and the Vert-Galant public garden on Ile de la Cité. As Jacques de Molay was burning, he shouted the famous curse: the Pope and King Philip IV would die within one year and all the next thirteen generation of Kings would be accursed ... The Templar possessions were handed over to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (which later became the Order of Malta) until the French Revolution. 

 In a strange turn of history, the curse of Jacques de Molay seems to have put a spell beyond the accursed kings up to the dark times of the French Revolution with the captivity of Louis XVI in the Temple dungeon … At the Revolution, few buildings remained from the Temple fortress, basically  the palace of the Grand Prior of the Temple rebuilt during the 17th century and a disused  large  tower, chosen on 13th August, 1792 by the Commune of Paris to lock up the King Louis XVI and his family. The Temple dungeon was located now rue Eugène-Spuller, between the Temple public garden and the 3rd district town hall. King Louis XVI was imprisoned in the dungeon until his trial and execution on 21st January, 1793 in the Place de la Concorde. On  2nd August, 1793 Marie-Antoinette was transferred from the dungeon to the Conciergerie to be executed on 16th October, 1793.

 She was awakened if indeed she slept. She embraced her daughter and her sister-in-law - her son had been taken from her a month before - and then she passed down the stairs of the Tower and out into the stifling, oppressive night. Surrounded by commissioners and soldiers she crossed the silent garden of the Temple; not, we may well believe, without turning, as Louis XVI had turned on the 21st January, to look her last at the Tower that loomed, huge and sinister, in the darkness. A cab awaited her at the steps of the palace; the great gate opened to let her pass:  She and her guard briskly crossed the sleeping town. ”“

The last days of Marie-Antoinette – G. Lenôtre (translated by Mrs.Rodolph Stawell)

 It is said that Louis XVII, Dauphin of France, separated from his mother on 3rd July, 1793 and since completely isolated and uncared-for, died on 8th June, 1795 in the Temple, when he was 10 year old. However, some disturbing facts have questioned the official story and the enigma is still unresolved.  



77, rue du Temple

77, rue du Temple Old house where war ministry Bouchotte lived in 1793.
in 1901 by Atget

We are staying at this difficult time of the French Revolution with this picture taken by Atget showing a house at 77, rue du Temple. A plaque on the wall is indicating that the War Ministry Jean-Baptiste Bouchotte (1754-1840) lived in this house in 1791 during the National Convention. 
Well, who was Bouchotte ? I have found little description about him; one written by the French historian G. Lenôtre in his book about Charette, a man who played a key role during the war in Vendée during the French Revolution.
“ … Not a bad man, hard worker, very moral, motivated by good intentions, this Chief officer of the Army has a gift for promoting those incompetent and for preferring the naughty ones.  He was the patron of the incompetence. As a Republican at its core, he thought his first duty was to democratize the Army and the offices of his Department;  ”  
The description of this officer, quite unflattering, does resonate with the sentence written by Victor Hugo in his book Ninety-Three when he describes Cimourdain, a committed revolutionary: “No one today knows his name. History has many of these great Unknown.”

Rue Dupetit-Thouars

16, rue Dupetit-Thouars
1910/ 1912 Atget

We are in the district called Carreau du Temple. In the past, it was a market specialized in secondhand clothing since the transfer of the old linen market in 1802 in an area close to the rotonde du Temple. The rotunda, constructed in 1788 where there was only vacant land and vegetable gardens, was initially intended for commercial use and housing.
Close to the rotunda, the old clothes market was held in up to 1800 shops spread over four wooden pavilions. Four streets with naval officers names were crossing these pavilions: rues Carafelli, Dupetit-Thouars, Dupuis and Perrée.
Some of these pavilions had evocative nicknames, such as the Flying Louse specialized in scrap and secondhand clothing, the Black Forrest selling shoes. The space between the rotunda and the old clothes pavilions was called Carreau du Temple (the Temple Tile)  because the sellers were spreading the clothes directly on the floor, on the tile.
All these buildings were demolished in 1863 and replaced with a new market, called the Carreau du Temple, made of cast iron pavilions where the first Paris fair was held in 1904. Not enough used and deteriorated, the Carreau du Temple was renovated by the 3rd district city hall, transforming it into sports and cultural facilities. Around the two remaining pavilions, the old secondhand shops have been replaced by galleries, trendy shops, restaurants and bars.   

Rue de la Corderie

2, rue de la Corderie
Second hand clothing seller
Atget - 1912

What was in the past one of the walls of the Temple enclosure demolished in 1667,  is now rue de la Corderie. These walls were protected by two dungeons: The Temple Tower where King Louis XVI  and his family were kept later at the time of the French Revolution and the Caesar's Tower. The Temple fortress was sheltering the knights' remarkable wealth. The Order was also the depository and administrator of a part of the royal treasure and was acting as a banker for princes, bishops and even for personal customers. Templar knights were given two important privileges: right of asylum and tax exemption. Everyone except  murderer could take refuge in their fortress and escape justice. Many craftsmen could exercise within the enclosure beyond their usual guild control and fees.

Rue de la Corderie was opened at the same time as the ones leading to the Old Linen market built in 1809. Secondhand clothes shops and old military uniforms sellers are all gone, nothing has remained of them.

Rue Portefoin

14, rue Portefoin
Atget - 1901/1902

The name of the street – Portefoin  (which would mean hay-rack) – is in fact a corruption over time of a person's name – Portefin – a mansion's owner in the street.

The Hotel de Breteuil, 14 rue Portefoin, with the triangular pediment above the arched gate was owned in 1700 by the Duke of Orléans' wardrobe.

Next to the hotel, 12 rue Portefoin, there was the Hotel de Turgot, demolished and replaced in 1894 by a building. Turgot was Master of the merchants of Paris, i.e. Mayor of Paris and he was also father of the Minister of Louis XVI; he lived in this street between 1715 and 1751.

He was passionate about mapping; he asked Louis Bretez to make a map of Paris that was published in 1739.  The Turgot map is very large, it is made of twenty view maps. It is using the Seine river as the vertical axis of symmetry, like the old maps of Paris. In order to read he Turgot maps and compare it with today maps, you have to turn the map 125° clockwise. I own one of these view maps showing the Temple district in the 18th century.
On the left, we can see fields with the name Courtille, famous at this time for its open-air dance halls. In the center, we can read Faubourg du Temple; it shows mainly fields and also a large road with round trees, following the path of the city wall constructed by King Charles V. We can read Porte du Temple, which was an old gate of the wall, which is today Place de la République.
On the right side of the map, (see below) we can see the Temple enclosure, as it appeared in 1739 and all gone today, except the tower between rue de Charlot and rue de Picardie. ( you can see the inside part of the tower  in the restaurant located 32, rue de Picardie).
On the map, we can notice the dungeon, destroyed in 1811; the palace of the Grand Prior, destroyed in 1853; the church demolished during the French Revolution; and the Temple Gate located today 158 bis, rue du Temple.

83, rue des Archives (Hôpital des Enfants-Rouges)

Old house
83, rue des Archives
Atget - 1901
(Musée Carnavalet)

We are now leaving the area where  the Temple Enclosure was located. The Templar built a new district outside the walls of the Temple and down to the foot of Philip Augustus wall. This area was called the Temple New City. Let's take rue des Archives where will stop at the number 83.
These 17th century buildings are the remains of an old hospital – Hôpital des Enfants-Rouges (Hospital of Children in red), which was located between 2, rue Portefoin and 83-90 rue des Archives. This part of rue des Archives was only opened in 1800 after the abolition during the French revolution of the Christian community which was owning the hospital and its church.  This hospital, founded by king Francis I and his sister Marguerite de Navarre in 1534, was taking in orphans, dressed in red as a symbol of charity.    

Marché des Enfants-Rouges - Rue de Bretagne

This small colourful covered market – Marché des Enfants-Rouges was established in 1615; It takes its name – Market of Children in red – from the near hospital (see above).

In order to supply the Temple district in poultry, game, meat and other foodstuff, two XIII military supply officers of king Louis XIII (Sulpice Richard de la Houssière and Jean Duflos) created Le Petit Marché (the Small Market).

This market was also to supply an other new district honoring French Provinces. After king Henry IV built the Place Royale (today known as Place des Vosges), he  wanted to build an other square, Place de France with new streets bearing the  names of French Provinces and cities. But,  due to the assassination of the king in 1610, the project was stopped and the square itself was never created. However, an idea of the project can be understood with these streets following a fan-shape line : rue de Normandie, de Bretagne and de Poitou. Also, other names of streets, like rue de Picardie, de Beauce, de Saintonge and du Perche are reminiscences of the project.

Le Petit Marché was a wooden covered market located in the middle of these streets, with a well and a cow-shed; it was a huge success from the start. Later, the market was owned in 1673 by  the wife of the astronomer Jean-Dominique Cassini and in 1772, a new owner Jean-Claude Geoffroy d'Assy built new shops and a central fountain. 

In 1912, the Assy family sold the market to the city of Paris. After being near  destruction and replaced by a parking, it was finally renovated in 2000. I recommend you stop there and get a nice lunch with Italian and Oriental meals.        

  • Marché des Enfants Rouges
    1898 Atget

Hôtel de Tallard - 78, rue des Archives

Comte de Tallard, Marshal of France and minister of state in 1726 was the owner of this magnificent mansion. Initially, it was built in 1702 for Pierre Amelot de Chaillou by the architect Pierre Bullet who also built Porte Saint-Martin. Piganiol de la Force who described Paris in 1742 was greatly admiring the house and the elegant staircase that he was considering as one of the most beautiful in Paris.

On Atget's photo, we can notice statues standing in the niches of the stairwell; they have since disappeared. Due to lack of space, the architect Bullet had to build a single aisle on the northern side of the yard. Through a coach gate, this aisle is opened to an other yard which was for domestic use. The elegant stoned walls of the mansion are divided by Tuscan pilasters supporting ornamented arches. The main one floor building is mansard roofed and its doorway opens in a stone hall leading to the beautiful staircase.

The house was kept by Tallard family and in 1825 was sold to a grocery trader. Several industrial activities deteriorated the mansion. As shown by Atget's photo, the decorated medallion standing in  the middle of the mansard roof was holding a clock and large signboards were cluttering the facades. Since its restoration in 1981, the house regained his elegant aspect …

  • Hôtel du maréchal de Tallard
    78, rue des Archives
    1898 - Atget

  • Hôtel du maréchal de Tallard
    78, rue des Archives
    1898 - Atget

79 and 81, rue des Archives

81, rue des Archives
79, rue des Archives
Old 17th century mansion
Atget - 1901
(Musée Carnavalet)

Valentin Conrart, a French author and Calvinist spent his last years (between 1672 and 1675) in this house located at 81, rue des Archives. This is less as a writer that he acquired his reputation and definitively more as the first Permanent Secretary of l'Academie francaise. Cardinal Richelieu formalized the group that Conrart formed with his friends talking over literary works and subtleties of French and in this way created in 1634 the French Academy.

The old mansion from the time of king Louis XIII, located at 79, rue des Archives, has still today a nice facade, though the  garage,  which is also taking up the yard made them unattractive.

Ruelle Sourdis

Ruelle Sourdis
1898 - Atget
(Musée Carnavalet)

This right angle street starts rue Pastourelle and ends in Rue Charlot; it looks today all the same as it was at Atget's time. Have a look at his photo taken in 1898 with a very interesting perspective effect: nothing has changed! Same central gutter, same old paving stones, same turrets bridging over the street … 

61, rue des Archives

61, rue des Archives
1908 - Atget
(Musée Carnavalet)

The odd-numbered side of the rue des Archives has lost many of its old houses; hence, for instance, between 61 and 67 numbers, the three old mansions were demolished and replaced in 1934 by the building of the telephone exchange. The sculptor Jean Boucher created a gate in a style very Art Nouveau using vegetal patterns for the door and giving a smooth movement to the carved women.

72, rue des Archives -

72, rue des Archives
ca 1907 by Atget

This mansion owned by Villeflix, Head of Royal Treasurer had been heavily modified and lost its garden. This garden was embellished with a 18th century fountain representing a couple; a man and a woman standing around an urn from which is flowing a stream of clear water. Not representing some Government expenditure  … it is just an allegory representing water. It was quite commonly used as an allegory for fountains, there are several examples like the fountain of Haudriettes (see next section). A floor shop, built where was the garden, is now hiding the fountain, deprived of a  nice green environmnent.  

Fontaine des Haudriettes - 1, rue des Haudriettes, 53 rue des Archives

Fontaine des Haudriettes
1898 - Atget
(Musée Carnavalet)

This 18th century fountain is an other allegory representing water; it shows a water nymph resting against an urn of water. If you compare with the photography taken by Atget, you can notice several changes:
-       At Atget's time, the fountain was standing against the houses at the corner of rue des Archives and rue des Haudriettes. The fountain is now standing in the middle of the street in front of new buildings. It was removed when the street junction was widened in 1933 and replaced in front of the new buildings.
-       The sundial which was against the stone plate above the water nymph is now gone. 

  • Fontaine des Haudriettes
    1898 Atget

Rue de Braque

-       7, rue de Braque - Petit hotel de Mesmes;  Vergennes, Foreign Minister during the reign of Louis XVI, (notably during the American War of Independence), lived in this mansion in 1776. The building had been beautifully restored. You can easily have a look at it through the gate.

-       8bis rue de Braque – Hôtel de Chaulnes : you cannot miss its door, with its carved lion heads. 

  • 7, rue de Braque
    1903 - Atget
    (Musée Carnavalet)

  • Door
    8 rue de Braque
    1901 - Atget

  • Door
    8 rue de Braque
    1901 - Atget

45, rue des Archives

45, rue des Archives
Former Order of Fathers of Mercy
1901 Atget
(Musée Carnavalet)

The black marble plate above the gate gives a very short and unclear information; it just says : “Reverend Fathers of Mercy. Rebuilt between 1727 and 1731. Godeau, architect. “ Let's get more information: In 1613, Marie de' Medici settled the order of Mercy on the site of Hospital de Braque. This order was established in 1223 by Peter Nolasco and James I of Aragon in the city of Barcelona; its mission was the rescue of Christian captives from the Moors.

Its chapel, located 47, rue des Archives, was attended by the Parisian High Society, coming to listen the composer Jean-Philippe Rameau playing the organ. Bussy-Rabutin, less known today,  but famous at his time, was Madame de Sévigné's cousin. He distinguished himself in his military career and as a writer and academician; and he was equally known for many love affairs too; His attendance of the chapel was more notorious than ever with his attempt to abduct Madame de Miramion, a young widow.
The chapel was destroyed during the French Revolution. 

© Copyright Year 2016 - Martine Combes
 author for text and photos of today Paris