Read the Signs: Rue Vaugirard in Paris

Read the Signs: Rue Vaugirard in Paris

Paris’s longest street, and its even longer history

The rue de Vaugirard starts at boulevard Saint-Michel, outside the Sorbonne University, and travels westwards across two arrondissements to end at the Porte de Versailles, tracing its way along 4km of central Paris.

Since the 16th century, its layout has corresponded to what was the route from Philippe Auguste’s university to the village of Vaugirard, from where it gets its name.

It is narrow and inauspicious until it reaches its first major landmark, the Palais du Luxembourg, built here on the site of a 16th-century mansion to be the royal residence of Marie de’ Medici, the mother of King Louis XIII. The Palais became a prison during the French Revolution and then, in 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte transformed it into the Senate, the higher chamber of the French Parliament, a function it retains to this day.

During the 18th-century Counter Reformation, several convents were also built along the road’s course. The road has also been an address for such illustrious residents as Michel Foucault, Paul Verlaine, Émile Zola, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Jean Dubuffet, to name but a few.

But its origins go way further back than this. It is, in fact, the upper part of the old Roman road which once linked Lutetia (which is now Paris) to Autricum (which is now Chartres).

From France Today magazine

Read other installments in our “Read the Signs” series:
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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  • Sylvia Edwards Davis
    2021-02-18 10:27:14
    Sylvia Edwards Davis
    Thank you so much for your kind note Lisa, I am so thrilled that you enjoy the articles. At the moment most of our readers are English speakers but... as they say... "il ne faut jamais dire : fontaine, je ne boirai pas de ton eau".


  • Lisa Broderick
    2021-02-18 02:12:00
    Lisa Broderick
    Bonjour, I love your brief and fascinating cultural articles about France. Have you ever thought of offering some of them in French? Merci beaucoup! Lisa Broderick French Instructor Alliance Française de Santa Rosa, California