I already posted about these « hidden » alleys and courtyards some four or five years ago. I then wondered what would happen to them. I passed by again a couple of days ago. They are being restored … and the possible fear that they would be demolished or being transformed to something fashionable only for “the wealthy” seems to be wrong. After a long battle by the people living and working there, the City has bought the premises and the occupants, mostly artists and artisans, seem in majority to be able to stay there after the restoration. Actually, many of them are still around during the ongoing important works.
You can find these courtyards and alleys – also known as the “Cours de l’Industrie”, along Rue de Montreuil, somewhere between Place de la Nation (see previous post) and the Bastille (see previous posts here and here).They date from the 19th century, when they were especially occupied by furniture artisans.
(If you wonder about the Chinese text: A friend told me that it reads "yong chun quan", translated to "boxe qui chante le printemps", a specific Chinese art of boxing.)
The buildings and alleys occupy part of which during the 17th century was the place of a very fashionable “country house” and park, known as the “Folie Titon”, now completely disappeared. Below, we can compare what the area looked like in 1760 and today.
In 1765 a wallpaper manufacturer, Reveillon, took over the place. He had of course good contact with paper manufacturers, including the family Montgolfier. This led in different steps to the fact that it was somewhere here that Etienne Montgolfier would be the first human to lift off the earth, in October 1783, in a tethered flight, in what was to become known as a “montgolfière”; for the balloon, paper was largely used. A couple of weeks later – in November – the first free flight took place over Paris (see previous posts here and here).
On one of the neighbour buildings you can find some commemorative plates and in another building entrance a mosaic, resuming the history of the place …. which actually also includes another event: “The Reveillon Riot”. The workers at the Reveillon wallpaper factory, upset about a rumour of lowered salaries, put the factory on fire, and a riot led to some 25 people killed. This happened a few weeks before the July 14th 1789 and was one of the first instances of the Revolution. The mosaic is too large for a single photo, so here is a patchwork. (We can recognize Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.).