In the 19th century, the Boulevard des Italiens was the high fever pulse of the Parisian microcosm. All the characters so well described by Honoré de Balzac, the social painter of the Human Comedy could be
seen there crossing their paths in fashionable cafes and theatres: aristocrats, courtesans, writers, artists, journalists, … Although its aura has somehow faded today, it is still a very popular thoroughfare for its restaurants,
cinemas, theatres and covered passages.
The Credit Lyonnais building, quite massive, and many other banking establishments were opened in this district during the 19th and 20th centuries.
On the opposite
side, between rue Taitbout and rue Lafitte, an other bank, the BNP building has an impressive neo-renaissance facade. Created in the 19th century, the building was a famous restaurant, and as a very luxury and expensive place, got the nickname of
the Gilded House.
I remember when it was turned into a modern building in the 1970s. Only its facade was kept and its structure completely hollowed out.
Have a look at the carved frieze. Among the many animals, there is a wolf contemplating
a little lamb … An image quite appropriate for a bank, isn't?