The Rue du Faubourg du Temple

photo: grocery, rue fgb du temple

In the Rue du Faubourg du Temple, a lot of shops have their wares on the sidewalks.

Known As Bas-Courtille In Its Heyday

Paris:- Friday, 7. May 1999:- Arno has written from Austria about an essay he has to write about 'Red' Belleville. He knows more about it than I do. I don't have a copy of 'Paris Under the Communards' handy; I just have little pieces of references here and there. All Arno really wants, is a photo of Belleville.

Last night's weather forecast made me think I'd be staying home, but there has been blue between the clouds since 8:00 and there is mostly clouds between the blue when I hit the surface at Belleville and the nearest café for a glass of eau minerale.

I remember this café from a couple of years ago when I came up here to see the melting-pot of Belleville - as being stock Parisian, just as it still is.

Outside of it there is a bit of Chinatown, as an outer satellite suburb of the 13th, andphoto: the madonna of belleville about 35 other nations with their feet in Paris. Except for the extravagant signs of the Chinese shops, it isn't exceptionally 'foreign' as it is all laid on top of well-used working-class Parisian architecture.

Here is, by chance, the 'Madonna of Belleville' - at the marché.

For Arno, I go up the rising road a bit towards métro Pyrénées, but not as far as the Notre Dame de Bas Belleville church. The sun whites-out the, what was in winter, dreary shabbiness of the buildings on the north side, so they only look slightly old and Parisian - not 'Red,' not leftist.

I am probably missing something by not poking my nose more deeply in here, but I remember from last time the part below the boulevard, where it is called the Rue du Faubourg du Temple. The part I that went through fast because I had used up all the photos in Belleville.

But first, on the centre strip of the Boulevard de Belleville, it is the market. At its end, where I cross over there are only textiles, but one wagon has a pleasant mural, evoking the Belleville of old - the 'out-of-town' café in the countryside aspect.

I take a quick last glance to see if I can spot one red flag for Arno, andphoto: cour de la grace du dieux then head west past the last big Chinese duck emporium. Right away it is faubourg pure, with the arched entrance to the Cour de la Grâce du Dieux, which has no history except it was once the location of a 'Courtille' cabaret, operated by Gilles Desnoyers.

Odd how I thought this is the entrance to a convent; and don't look inside.

This cour turns out to have been named by the owner, Meyer. He was director of the Théâtre de la Gaîté and it had a grand success with a piece named 'La Grâce du Dieux,' which played in this theatre. In the 18th century, it was Desnoyers' cabaret, and the 'père' sold rabbits which were actually cats.

And, to make a short story long, Desnoyers was a direct competitor with Jean Rampanoneaux' cabaret, the 'Tambour-Royal' in the Rue de l'Orillon. Now I remember; this whole area was called Bas-Courtille, and was chock-a-block with clubs and bars, including the Cabaret des Marronniers.

Jean Rampanoneaux took over this 'hot spot' from the Ruelles, and he pepped it up even more. He sold his wine for one sou a pint less than his colleagues on the other side of the city gate and this was so popular he had as many customers waiting outside as those drinking inside the very large establishment.

In 1758 Rampanoneaux hired a puppeteer named Gaudron for 10 weeks for 400 livres. On the advice of his confessor, Gaudron turned down the extravagant offer, on account of the danger to his soul if he got lessphoto: cour with apartments than a thousand for the gig. Rampanoneaux apparently refused, Gaudron sued, backed up by Elie de Beaumont, and Voltaire took it up.

Instead of paying, Rampanoneaux gave the 'Tambor-Royal' to his son and went off to open another place in the Porcherons - which if I follow it up, will make this short story even longer - so back to the Faubourg du Temple.

The 'cours' off the street are still residential.

In fact, there isn't much 'history' to it. It starts off, 'this old road that went to Belleville, went through the yard of Malevart, which was owned by the Chapter of Saint-Merri in 1175.

The Rue du Temple, on the other side of the Place de la République, is the real beginning, and then there were various forms of city gates and moats, starting in 1380, and today's part got its name in 1678 - except for the part that now is in the Place de la République, which chopped off a bit in 1856 when it opened.

The part where there were a lot of restaurants, bars and cabarets was in the area around the Rue de l'Orillon, but the whole length of the street was occupied by circuses and concert halls, including the Cirque Anglais Astley, which opened in 1783. It closed and reopened and closed and reopened again in 1788 when the original Antoine Franconi joined it.

Franconi took it over and moved it to the Rue de la Paix in 1800; then to the Rue Saint-Honoré and it came back to its original location in 1809. It burntphoto: palais du commerce, la java down on 15. March 1826 during a performance of 'L'Incendie de Salins.'

When it reopened, it was moved to the Boulevard du Temple, to the old location of the Théâtre des Troubadours, and Franconi put on military 'spectacles' - whatever they might be. Franconi died in 1836 at the age of 98.

This building is named 'Palais du Commerce' and 'La Java' at the same time.

The only item that might interest Arno is the mention that the Broguin and Lainé workshop at number 68 was used in 1870-71 to make the cannons 'necessary for the defense of Paris.'

The sidewalks are fairly narrow on both sides and many of the shops have goods on the pavements. There is a fair amount of foot traffic and a fair amount of dodge-'em, but as 'faubourg' implies - neighborhood - that it what it feels like.

Bars, cafés, fast-food places and little grocery stores and cheap clothing shops and a small Tati outlet, and even a 'supermarket' is small. The further away I go downhill from Belleville, the bigger the places get. But right before République, there are still little shops.

Near the end, after the Jules Ferry boulevard, there is the Palais des Glaces. Whatever it was before, it is now a cinema and I'm sorry it has no history. Maybe places that look like it were very common once and it was unremarkable in the past.

Since I last came this way a couple of years ago, its facade has been restored to its former splendor. Well, areas of Paris have their 'in' and 'out' centuries, andphoto: palais des glaces this restoration may mean the Faubourg du Temple is on the verge of becoming 'in' again. It's a small start through.

If, at the crossing of the Rue Saint-Maur, you go south along it five longish blocks, you will come to the Rue Oberkampf, and it was pretty lively around there last year. This year, so far, I haven't heard much about it. Maybe it too has had its 'century of fame;' one that lasted a whole two years.

The ex-'Palais des Glaces' is now a multiplex cinema.

Which is pretty good. If, as Andy Warhol suggested, we are all fit for our personal 15 minutes of fame, then Paris' various faubourgs can easily handle 24 months of it. After their 'fame' is over, they return to being simply neighborhoods where Parisians live and work, in familiar surroundings.

Read ' Highs and Lows in Belleville,' which appeared in issue 2.14 of Metropole in 1997.

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