Paris... a bit of History.

Victor Hugo, Edith Piaf, Eric Satie and the baron Haussmann or Hemingway have all one thing in common,
they loved Paris, a visit to the Pere Lachaise(temporary visit!) helps to discover the architect of the Sacre Coeur.
Under the Basilica of St Louis meet with the poets walking under the Pont Mirabeau, the writers a la recherche du temps perdu, the many painters of Notre Dame or the one du Lapin Agile or travel through time and meet with the artists of Midnight in Paris and Paris je t'aime movies, Paris is a place to discover!

To find the origin of Paris we must look at the Sainte Patronne of Paris , Ste Genevieve, as it is on what is called the Montagne Ste Genevieve or the Place du Pantheon today(*) that the first romain settlement took place, Lutece or Lutetia, a name for Baths or more likely Swamps was the name given to Paris but Cesar did not like living along the river Seine and preferred staying on higher grounds. La rue de la Montagne St Genevieve is one of Paris oldest, it covers the start of the ancient roman road to Lugdunum(Lyon). If you can't travel to Paris, sitting in the street, near the Ecole Polytechnique(**) and near the demeure of Gertrude Stein is the main character of the Midnight in Paris movie waiting to be taken to a Cocteau party.

Clovis the first Christian King(le Merovingien) who lived in the Palace in the island of the Cite around the year 500, was burried on the montagne Ste Genevieve, in the Ste Genevieve abbaye. Clovis died just before Ste Genevieve and this is from this time on that Paris became the Capital of the Gaules and France.
The thrust transmitted by the emperor Constantin about knowledge and arts was also the catalyst for the development of the first of many abbeys around the year 750 by Charlemagne and the Carolingian s.
Philippe Auguste(1180) inherited thousands of students and many schools amalgamated into Paris la cite, la ville Université which included the college of Robert Sorbon(today La Sorbonne)... nearly one thousands years ago. La Sorbonne and surrounding well known educational institutions, Lycee Louis le Grand, Lycee Henri IV, College de France etc were built on romans ruins, see hotel& thermes de Cluny close by, the whole area forms today the Quartier Latin.

(*) -the Mercure de France writers(headed by Paul Valery) use to meet not far from the Bibliotheque Ste Genevieve one of the most famous in Paris
(**) Ecole Polytechnique is the most well known education institution in France, home of Henri Poincaré, philosophe and physicist(la Science et l'hypothese)... and brother of Raymond Poincaré, former French President and fondateur de l' Alliance Française.

Most of Paris Normand's constructions in earth, straw and wood did not stand fire and floods, so Philippe Auguste turned Petit and Grand Chatelet to durable stone to lodge the Prevots who looked after the city taxes and maps. We are so lucky today to have these maps of Paris to look at. It is also under Philippe Auguste that the first paved streets appeared as well as hospitals, the port, aqueducts. The Ste Chapelle and Notre Dame were also built or under construction during this period.

The Faubourgs between 1180 and 1650 were grouped around Abbeys such as St Victor, St Marcel, St Germain, Ste Genevieve, St Eloi...
The first arrondissements(arrondissements 1 to 6 then 7 to 11) of Paris are centered around these abbeys and on the inside of the fortification des Fermiers Generaux which was built much later(1750), this later structure is covered today by the metro aerien, see the map of Paris today and yesterday below, and the new arrondissements(12 to 20) were built clockwise after 1750 outide of the enceinte des fermiers generaux.
Les blvrds des marechaux de l'empire, blvrds exterieurs, kind of ring road (see plan below)were built later and separates Paris from the suburbs Neuilly, Levallois, Clichy...,
Today another further out ring road, the Blvrd "peripheriqye" is used by the modern road traffic(see plan below also).

Until 1700 and the French Revolution(see video games and history attached) Gardens and farming(Clos) were grouped around the existing Abbeys and clos(gardens) at the time... such as the Clos de Laas near the Eglise des Archers, which was burned down during the revolution,
people walking on the Rue St Andre des Arts today are effectively walking on the Clos de Laas which extended right to the farming fields in 1200(some of the popular images of the rich hours of the duc de Berry decribe the clos de Laas standing just across the Palais, the Sainte Chapelle and the river Seine) then the street passed through the Porte de Buci crossing the rue de Seine which was still the limit of Paris 500 years ago, near the famous tour de Nesle. (see also the image further with the tour de nesle from the Merian plan, and the plan at the bottom of the page showing the expansion of the city of Paris between 1200 and 1400 including the clos de Laas and the tour de Nesle location and check the web page Paris 1248... and the Paris video games historical appendix page!).

Walking on the Rue de La Huchette and St Severin in the quartier latin today though was exactly that 500 years ago and the church St Severin is well there today with the Ste Chapelle and Notre Dame to take you back as far as the year 1200,
... meanwhile the fortification Philippe Auguste is gone, apart from a preserved bit rue Mazarine also home of Moliere Illustre theatre and near the river and rue de Seine, home to the French Academy.

The Porte St Jacques in the Paris 500 Years ago painting would be standing around number 170-180 Rue St Jacques, an inscription must still be there.

Paris 500 Years ago.

You may enjoy viewing this exhibition on line with the historical infos attached if you are currently in Paris,
Paris 500 years ago from one thousand years in Paris exhibition through the eyes of the painter was held in 2012 in Perth, Western Australia, a long way down under, the exhibition is continuing online with video games based around the Paris 1000 years theme

Acknoledgments and Document consulted

This Paris 500 Years ago painting was
made possible thanks to the richness of the artefacts kept by

the Musée Carnavalet(Musée de la ville de Paris),
the Bibliotheque Nationale de France / National French Archives(BNF).

More precisely,
The following documents were consulted

Plan de Paris sous Charles V- Year 1367 BNF
Plan de Paris sous Charles VI- Year 1383 BNF
Plan de Bale - Year 1552 BNF
Plan de Paris de Belleforest Year 1575 BNF
Dheulland_1756-7_copy_of_c1552_St_Victor_map_of_Paris Year 1552 BNF
Plan de Paris de Merian Year 1615 BNF

You will find access to display all the above documents by keying each of the above lines into a google search field

Musee Carnavalet Paris Exhibition

The Carnavalet Museum is the museum of the town of Paris, and its history. Paintings, gravures and plans of Paris from the fourth century to our days are on show, this the one place not to miss to find out about the history of Paris and to view its landmarks on paintings.

Musee Carnavalet

You can also contact Friends of The Carnavalet Museum Associationis - (Les Amis du Musee Carnavalet) for more pictures and informations.

Les Amis du Musee Carnavalet

Click this link to access the Paris Convention and Visitors Office

Paintings and Drawings consulted of special Interest to construct paintings in the exhibition

Procession Place de Greve Musee Carnavalet(MC) 1590 Hotel de Ville view see also Nicolas Raaguenet
Pont aux Meuniers BNF
Joute des Mariniers Nicolas Raguenet(MC)
Bastille Documents BNF et Agenda du Bicentenaire(MC)
Faubourg St Antoine La Porte St Antoine Adam Perelle BNF
Porte Bordelle St Marcel St Michel St Jacques Plan St Victor BNF
Quai des Tournelles, Dirk Matham(MC)
Incendie de L'hotel Dieu, Jean-Baptiste Oudry(MC)
Palais Episcopal, Jean-Baptiste Lallemand(MC)
Le Palais Drawings BNF

It is worth to keep in mind the spirit of the retro-histo reconstruction. ... .... this is a retro painting and not a computer software reconstruction,

with the documents available a painting made of Multimedia graphics printed on canvas with oil and acrylic finish on top would have been possible but it is not the case nor the idea behind the retro histo-painting of Paris 500 Years ago.

The Paris 500 years ago painting does not use these techniques and the painting is a straight reconstruction without transparency painted directly on a blank stretched canvas.

Some of the Paris Plans listed above and visible to the right contain more than five thousand objects, see pictures/ extracts to the right, hence the level of detail varies greatly between documents.
Existing Paintings at the BNF and Musee Carnavalet contain valuable details, these paintings are listed above, the picture above right shows the extra level of detail, not all paintings listed above can be viewed online, check the availibility with Google

To visit the Musee Carnavalet see link above
Google BNF to access the Bibliotheque nationale de France Web Site
Details about locations numbered on the banner are available here after

Paris 500 Years ago.
The Enceinte- fortification Philippe Auguste extends from La tour de Nesles to the Quai de la Tournelle on the Left Bank(A) with the Porte Porte St Michel(21), Porte St Germain, Porte de Buci and St Jacques(B)- facing the old entrance to Paris through the Petit Chatelet Petit Pont and the Voie Romaine, rue St Jacques, see Painting of Paris, the year 1248).
On the right Bank(C) the new Enceinte- fortification of Charles VI extends from the Bastille to the Louvres but the Porte St Denis et St Martin visible today on the Grand Boulevards were built 200 years later.
1- L'ile de Louvier,
2- La Bastille,
3- The main entrance to Paris used to welcome foreign guests was via the Faubourg St Antoine
4- Place Royale(1589) place des Vosges from 1791, and the Buildings around, Hotel Carnavalet- Musee de la Ville de Paris, le Temple, and the Coupole St Paul are parte of the quartier du Marais(5).
(6)- l'Ile aux vaches is bare land until after 1600 when development started on the ile St louis attached to l'ile de la Cite through a passerelle behind Notre Dame(7) see Painting of Paris, the year 1248.
(8) le palais Episcopal is near by and the Hotel Dieu(9) does not yet extend over the bridge.

(10) - The Paris Town Hall is half constructed, the Place de Greves is in front of it (place for manifestations/ strikes).
The Eglise St Gervais is behind the town hall, just on the side of the town hall is the Port of Paris(see later painting of the place by Nicolas Raguenet). Most of Paris bridges were built with water mills and houses on top (handy to produce the flour for bread and croissants) good examples are:

(11) Le Pont Notre Dame with its water mills which sits near the Grand Chatelet(12), the pont Notre Dame was one of the most elegant bridges in the world during the XVth and XVIth century, see la Joute des Mariniers by Nocolas Raguenet, Musee Carnavalet.
the Pont aux Changes(14)
and the Pont aux Meuniers with many water mills, hidden on the paintings by the Royal Palace and the Ste Chapelle(15)
the Ste Chapelle is also known as "l'eglise de l'etoile" or the the Church of the knight templars which is visible on the centre of the painting, an historic Paris landmark with Notre Dame.

The Pont Neuf on the left(16- now the oldest bridge in Paris), was probably called the new bridge because it had no house built on top!,
The Pont Neuf in the time slice of this painting was under construction with a water pomp and water mill near the Right Bank end close to the Chapelle Royale and the Louvres(18) also in further development in this time slice.
Coches d'eau(the RER / express carriers of the time) and paddle boats(17) complete with house on top and horses to move the paddle wheel were used around the river or to cross the river Seine to the tour de Nesles(19) on the Left Bank. (Visit the painting of the Pont aux Meuniers through Google to see a typical bridge of this time slice complete with houses on top and a typical boat with house shelter and horse power moored near by!). A glimpse of this bridge is also visible on two of the pictures above.

The Entrance to Paris on the Left Bank was through the Portes de Nesles Buci and St Germain(20) with the Abbaye on the other side of the fortification to the left not yet attached to Paris (see also picture above right from the Merian Plan, at the top right of this picture is the Church St Sulpice screened in the Da Vinci Code(*)), between these and the porte St Michel(21) at the front of the painting the Jardin and and Palace of the Luxembourg(today's Senate) was built later(Marie de Medicis).

(*)TO SEE PARIS PLANS IN MORE DETAIL(or the two high definition pictures at the bottom below and of the images from the Merian Plan CAN BE VIEWED ENLARGED UP TO 400%

Other Left Bank Entrance to Paris was through the Porte Bordelle and St Etienne du Mont in front of the montagne Ste Genevieve the oldest place in Paris(22-23), today's place de la Contrescarpe and rue Mouffetard.
At the other end after the Porte St Marcel was the Porte and pont des Tournelles(24) linked later with the isle St Louis.
Paris Faubourgs Development extended very quickly on the other side of the Philippe Auguste Fortification very soon after 1500, the painting viewpoint is from the top of the Moulin des Gobelin(X) on the picture in the Merian Plan displayed above right.

On the Ile de la Cite and the left side of the Pont St Michel(25) was the Clos des Archers(Eglise destroyed during the Revolution), it is today the rue St Andre des Arts,
but on the right side of the bridge the Eglise St Severin is still visible today 500 years later, near the rue de la Huchette and the rue du Chat qui Peche, the smallest of all Paris streets.


Paris Landmarks in Today's Context
Reference numbers are common to today and yesterday plan, Charles VI and Paris 500 Years ago. Letters refer to the current paragraph only.

A- Very few remains of the fortification Philippe Auguste, see F and W

B The Porte St Jacques does not exist today but walking the Rue St Jacques near the Pantheon(see 22) and following rue St Martin and rue du Faubourg St Martin will follow the Voie Romaine crossing Paris since 2000 years ago.

C The ancient Porte St Denis and St Martin and this part of the fortification Philippe Auguste woud be situated near the rue St Marcel today, not far from the "cimetiere des innocents" the current Prte St Martin and St Denis visible today on the Grand Boulevards see G were built two hundred after Charles VI consolidatiion of the fortification Philippe Auguste, La Tour Jean sans Peur may still be visible today. Some other Parts of the Philippe Auguste fortifications may also be visible but in the XIII th arrondissement of Paris.

D- St Sulpice, contains a painting of Christ appearing to Marie Madeleine the church built on top of a much older one is still visible today(see Da Vinci code movie and book) and the large road near it(rue de Rennes) leads to Montparnasse. Both St Germain and St Sulpice were outside the Philippe Auguste fortification and absorbed into the city much later.

Far more recent are also the Palais du Luxembourg and gardens dating from Marie de Medicis

E- The Gare de l'est train Station is outside the fortification
F- L'Institut de France across the Passerelle des Arts leads to rue Mazarine(vestiges of the fortification Philippe Auguste)

G-Les Grands Boulevards(Boulevard des Italiens) follow in part the fortification Charles VI not visible today

H Gare St lazare near the Opera O is well ouside the fortification Philippe Auguste
I- Rue de Rivoli is now aligned with the Faubourg St Antoine(3) main entrance of Paris for dignitaries to form the Paris East West crossing
J The Luxembourg Gardens and French Senate(Marie de Medicis 1622) are just outside the Porte St Michel and was next built just short of 500 years ago, Marie de Medicis wanted something to remember her of her childhood near Florence
K- Les Beaux Arts outside the Pont du Caroussel is linking with the Louvre.
Les Beaux Arts occupies what was yesterday l'Hotel de la Reine Mareguerite, first wife of Henri IV (Place Royale Place des Vosges) see Plan of Merian with "les Jardins de La Reine" today covered by the Musee d'Orsay, the ex railway Gare of Orsay used until 1950 for the reception of dignitaries.
L Gare de Lyon is outside limits too and was Paris expansion later
M- La Madeleine(Eglise Ste Marie Madeleine 1764) and Blvrd Hausmann and N - the Gare du Nord are also outside the fortification Philippe Auguste and were built much later

O- The Opera(Charles Garnier 1862) is also a much later addition to Paris built on the fortification Philippe Auguste or the Charles V extension Northern part. The lake underneath the Opera House is a remnant of the douves following the fortifications and visible in the Merian Plan!

P- Pere LaChaise cemetery is like (Q) the St Germain Church visible today, outside Paris Boundaries, both will become quickly attached after 1600 (Blvd St Germain construction and Blvd St Michel re-alignment(21) see also J above Luxembourg Palace.

R- Place de La Republique near the Temple(faubourg du Temple) on the Painting is the limit of Paris
S- La butte Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur are well in the distance
T- Le Jardin des Tuileries attached to the Louvres(18) is visible today.
U- the Rue de Buci(Bucy) and St Andre des Arts are visible today and the Tour de Nesles would be located at the Institute de France end of the rue Mazarine while the Porte de Bucy would be located near the Rue de Seine(W).
V- The Vincennes Chateau is well far in the distance on the Merian plan and only the Cour de Vincennes is visible in Paris today and Yesterday plan but the Gare d'Austerliz(Z) and the Jardin des plantes are close to the fortification ,
while the Place of the Concorde(Y) and Champs Elysees are just outside the plan of Merian.

Landmarks still visible today:
1 Ile de Louviers is now attached to the land today
2 - the Bastille was burnt down in 1789 with the revolution, and only a column remains place de la Bastille, the place is very busy with traffic today and is very large, the column at the centre marks the emplacement today of the former fortress, l'Opera Bastille is the most recent addition near by

Landmarks 4,6,7(Notre Dame),10,13,14,16,22,23 and the Ste Chapelle are visible today
8,9,11,12 and the Grand Chatelet(on the right bank) and the Petit Chatelets(left bank) have not survived until today but the Place du Chatelet is sitting on the exact location of the Grand Chatelet the Petit Pont is near where would be the Petit Chatelet.


1000 years in Paris est une exposition qui retrace en peinture l'histoire de la ville de Paris, les tableaux re-construisent Paris en s'inspirant de multiple documents provenant du Musee Carnavalet ainsi que de la bibliotheque nationale et des archives nationales.

History of Paris on Wikipedia

Check the History of Paris on Wikipedia

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View Larger Merian Plan

1615 Plan de Mérian from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France,
Click for detail enlargement with references on this
page above and below(Ref 1,2,3...11,12...A,B,C,D,E...)

Paris 500 Years ago consulted items with Merian Plan of 1615

Plan de Charles VI 1383 Courtesy of BNF

Plan de Dheulland BNF. Detail. Ste Chapelle. Palace.
Pont au Change. Pont aux Meuniers from copy of
St Victor Map of Paris in 1552 courtesy of the BNF

Plan de Mérian from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France
Detail Tour de Nesle Porte de Buci et St Germain
Enceinte Philippe Auguste and Abbaye St Germain(1615)

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Detail of Paris 500 years ago before the oil stage.
See special link above for the making of the Art Work

Paris expansion between 1200 and 1400

Paris expansion between 1200 and 1400

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