Rue du Cherche-Midi could mean the street looking for the south, but it seems that it rather refers to a sundial (looking for “midi” = noon?). This one? Until 1832, the street had three names, but finally then got the present one for its total length.
It’s thus a rather long street, linking Rue du Sèvres and Rue de Vaugirard. Here is a comparison between the 18th century Turgot map (looking east rather than north) and today.
If we start with the low numbers, we should commence our walk at the corner of Rue du Sèvres at a little square named after a former prime minister, Michel Debré, previously named Carrefour-de-la-Croix-Rouge (nothing to do with the Red Cross organisation, rather linked to the French Revolution). This is also where we find the statue by Cesar from 1985, named “The Centaur”.
Some comments on some of the buildings:
Nos. 2-12 used to be the place of a convent and a church, occupied during the 1789 Revolution by the “Croix Rouge” movement.No. 17 was where the Duc de Saint Simon wrote his “Memoires” (around 1750).
No. 18 is refered to as “Hôtel de Marsilly”.
No. 40, “Hôtel de Rochambeau”, was the home of the Comte de Rochambeau, a general, Marshall, who was the commander-in-chief of the French Expeditionary Force, participating with Washington at the siege of Yorktown and at the battle of the Chesapeake, joined by Lafayette... He was an original member of the “Society of the Cincinnati”, founded in 1784 to preserve the ideals and fellowship of the members of the Continental Army who had served at the American Revolutionary War.
No. 44 was where Victor Hugo spent his childhood and it was also the home of Abbé Grégoire, bishop … and revolutionary leader, a fervent abolitionist, supporter of the universal suffrage, cofounder of the “Bureau des Longitudes” (universal time, metric system…), the “Institut de France” (French Academies), the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts… There is an old water pump in the court.
No. 47 was the home of Karl Marx’s daughter and her husband.
No. 76 was the home of Jules Sandeau, novelist and one of George Sand’s lovers.
Nos. 85-87 is referred to as “Petit Hôtel de Montmorency-Bours.
No. 86 needs a special mention for its court and its fountain (see also top picture). The name of the place, “Vieilles Thuileries” indicates tile manufacturing.
No. 89 is named “Grand Hôtel de Montmorency” and houses today the Embassy of Mali. One of its occupants was “Madame Sans-Gêne”, a nickname attributed to her as she often irritated Napoleon (but his statue is to be seen in the entrance).
No. 95, “Hôtel de Chambon” was (is?) owned by Gérard Depardieu, (still?) for sale. (Have a look here.)
No. 112 was the place for tax paying (tax farming), before the construction of the “Wall of the Farmers General” (see previous posts).
Going backwards, at no. 55 there is today a school of design. Already during the 19th century you could find an art academy for women here – they were not allowed to the official art schools before 1897. A sculptor, René Iché, resistant, hided the Dreyfus documents in his workshop here during the WWII occupation.
What really is charming with this – and many other Paris streets – is what you can find when you push some doors and gates.
Of course, this is also a street for shopping…
… and for eating and drinking.
On your way you will also find a statue by Haïm Kern from 1990 representing the author, Nobel Prize winner (1952), François Mauriac (1885-1970 ).
After crossing Boulevard de Montparnasse, there are still a few buildings, more especially a giant very recent one, designed by Jean Nouvel (again), “Imagine” (Institut des Maladies Génétiques), an institute dedicated to genetic diseases.
The street ends when reaching Rue de Vaugirard at Place Camille Claudel and the nice Villa Garnier.
A little side look on a crossing little street, Rue Jean Ferrandi with a charming complex of artist studios. One of the occupants was Diego Rivera, together with his first wife Angelina Beloff. They lived here a few years during and after WWI.