Monday, April 20, 2015

Q = Quarters-Latin and Bastille, French Faves - A to Z Challenge

Paris is divided into districts or boroughs known as arrondissements. Some of the older parts of Paris are also called quarters. Two of these are featured here: the Latin Quarter and the Bastille Quarter.

The Latin Quarter

Literary Café de Flore, Paris, by DG Hudson

Café de Flore

The Café de Flore, at the corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue St. Benoit, in the 6th arrondissement, is one of the oldest coffeehouses in Paris. It opened in 1885, and is celebrated today for its famous clientele and the memories of times gone by. 

In spite of its gentrification and the loss of its former identity, the Latin quarter continues to attract tourists and Parisians. Those who come hope to find or resurrect the atmosphere and air of change that existed in the writings of Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and others.

The Latin Quarter of Paris is an area in the 5th and 6th arrondissements. Situated on the left bank of the Seine, it includes the Sorbonne. The name of 'Latin Quarter' comes from the language spoken in the Middle Ages, when Latin was the international language of learning.


Les Deux Magots

Les Deux Magots, Paris, by DG Hudson

Another famous café in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area, Les Deux Magots, was the place to find the literary and intellectual elite of Paris. Its reputation is due to the patronage of intellectuals Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, Surrealist artists and writers, such as Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce and others. Today, it is mostly a tourist destination and a great people-watching location.


Student Protests, Latin Quarter

In the legendary riots of 1968 students protested against the De Gaulle government and police brutality. Police were using tear gas and clubs; students were using cobblestones. The workers rallied to the same cause by instigating mass strikes in support. This type of student revolt was also taking place in the USA at colleges and universities.(The infamous Kent State shooting of students by National Guardsmen took place two years later in 1970.)

A Literary Note
Shakespeare and Company Bookstore

The current edition of Shakespeare and Company Bookstore is an update of the original bookstore founded by Sylvia Beach. Read more here. In the 1920s, this bookstore became a focal point for expat Americans Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and James Joyce. It was also frequently visited by members of the Beat Generation in later decades.


The Bastille Quarter  

The Place de la Bastille is a square in Paris, where the Bastille Prison stood until the Storming of the Bastille, and its eventual destruction between July 14, 1789 and July 14, 1790 during the French Revolution. No vestige of it remains today. As a result of its historical significance, the square is often the site or departure point for political demonstrations.

Place de la Bastille square straddles three arrondissements: 4th (Marais), the 11th and the 12th. The Bastille name has endured. Also in the square are the Bastille Opera, the Bastille subway station, and a section of the Canal Saint Martin. A railway station which existed before 1984 was removed to make way for the new opera house.

The Bastille Prison
Model at the Louvre

Model of the Bastille Prison, at the Louvre, by DG Hudson

The Bastille, built between 1370 and 1383 was converted to a state prison in the 17th century by Cardinal Richelieu, and housed primarily political prisoners, religious prisoners, seditious writers, and young rakes held at the request of their families. After the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI, the use of the infamous cachots (dungeons) and the vermin-infested subterranean cells were abolished. 

The July Column

The July Column, via Creative Commons*, Place de la Bastille  

The July Column (Colonne de Juillet) at the center of the Place de la Bastille square commemorates the events of the July Revolution of 1830


Have you been to the Latin Quarter or the Bastille Quarter in Paris? Do you know of an equivalent in another city? If so, please let me know. 

Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, and if you are part of the A to Z Challenge. I'll be sure to check your blog, and reciprocate. If you're not in the challenge, thanks for stopping by to visit! I try to reply to all comments.


The A to Z Blog Challenge is brainchild of Lee, at Tossing It Out.  Please visit the A to Z blog site to find out more information and the participant list.  There are also Twitter and Facebook presences if you want to check those!

Place de la Bastille

*Image: Place de la Bastille with July Column
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported. 
Author: JSquish