Read the Signs: Rue du Bac in Paris

Read the Signs: Rue du Bac in Paris

A lovely flânerie along a charming Parisian street

Strolling along Rue du Bac is one of those very Parisian experiences. Just 1,150 metres long from the Voltaire and Anatole-France quays to Rue de Sèvres, Rue du Bac is home to peaceful parks, handsome homes, and great shopping. Chocoholics will love Chocolat Chapon; enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a Mont-Blanc pastry at Angelina; and be wowed by exotic sights at legendary taxidermist Deyrolle. And don’t miss the foodie high temple that is La Grande Épicerie de Paris.

The street was first called ‘grand chemin du Bac’, then ‘ruelle du Bac’ and ‘grande rue du Bac’. You may have heard of the infamous ‘bac’, short for baccalauréat, France’s national high school qualification.

But the name of this street refers to a different kind of ‘bac’ – in this case, a flat-bottomed barge used to cross a river or lake. The ‘bac’ in question was the ferry established in around 1550 on the present Quai Voltaire, which in the 16th century transported the stone blocks destined for the construction of the Tuileries Palace. It crossed the Seine at the site of the present Pont Royal, which was first built in wood in 1632 by the financier Le Barbier. It was commissioned by Louis XIII after he witnessed a ferry accident, and was later replaced by a more permanent structure under Louis XIV.

From France Today magazine

Read other instalments in our “Read the Signs” series:
Read the Signs: Rue des Dames in Paris
Read the Signs: Rue Vaugirard in Paris
Read the Signs: Rue du Croissant in Paris
Read the Signs: Rue Cler
Read the Signs: Allée Sonia Rykiel in Paris
Read the Signs: Rue Crémieux in Paris
Read the Signs: Place de l’Europe- Simone Veil in Paris

Read the Signs: Boulevard Haussmann in Paris
Read the Signs: Rue du Chat qui Pêche in Paris
Read the Signs: Rue des Mauvais Garçons in Paris
Read the Signs: Avenue de Champagne
Read the Signs: Rue du Temple in Paris
Read the Signs: Rue Guy-Môquet in Paris
Read the Signs: Rue des Francs-Bourgeois in Paris
Read the Signs: Boulevard Diderot in Paris


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Sylvia Edwards Davis is a writer and correspondent based in France with a focus on business and culture. A member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia scans the cultural landscape to bring you the most relevant highlights on current events, art exhibitions, museums and festivals.

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  • J. Viallet
    2020-11-11 20:18:12
    J. Viallet
    I lived on the rue du Bac part of the year for 12 years, until October 2019. Nice piece. Would have included some other spots, but am sure you You have a limited number of words to work with?


    • Sylvia Edwards Davis
      2020-11-12 09:34:49
      Sylvia Edwards Davis
      Yes, you're absolutely right, the tyranny of the word count. Feel free to post here any suggestions for other interesting spots to visit, or any other Parisian streets you'd like to me to write about.