Looking for Clichy

photo: cite des fleurs, epinettes

The Cité des Fleurs in Epinettes is another of Paris'
rare garden streets.

And Imagining Batignolles

Paris:- Friday, 31. August 2001:- I wanted to go up to Clichy. Probably not Clichy exactly, but Epinettes. It is beyond where the Avenue de Clichy turns to the northwest and runs out of Paris to the Hauts-de Seine's suburb of Clichy.

I imagined that everything north and west of the Place de Clichy is called 'Clichy' but I must be wrong. Epinettes doesn't seem to have a strong sense of its name - maybe it was named in 1693 for a type of grape, l'epinette blanc, known today as pineau blanc.

A book says the quarter of the Epinettes was industrial until the '30s, with slaughterhouses, a gas works, some sort of 'dépôt de voitures' - a bus garage I guess - and, 'above all, the Gouin Ateliers, which lasted until 1927,' without saying what they were.

Other than this, 'few prestigious monuments.' One park called the Square des Epinettes, two 'generous' famousphoto: resto l'escarpade, r jonquiere people - Jean Leclaire, who was a painting contractor who had introduced profit-sharing for his employees, and Maria Deraismes who founded a society for the improvement of women's rights.

Downtown Epinettes, in the Rue de La Jonquière.

Then there are two churches, one in a romano-byzantine style and the other in a neo-byzantine style. Other than all this, after its subdivision Les Epinettes became the most densely populated part of the 17th arrondissement. I don't know if it still is or it means the whole 17th arrondissement.

Today I have waited a bit to find out if it is going to rain, but after a certain amount of time I go anyway even if the sky is still undecided. The métro station at Guy Moquet is a stop beyond where Clichy swings to the left, but is close to the Square des Epinettes. This is right on the edge of the 18th arrondissement to the east.

The 'square' turns out to be a somber park - because of the overcast - just a block west of the Avenue de Saint-Ouen, which is 'popular' and lively. I do a tour of the square and return to the Guy Moquet métro stop and turn west into the Rue de La Jonquière.

This was part of the Rue Marcadet, which was part of the 'Chemin des Boeufs' in 1730, which ambled along between La Chapelle-Saint-Denis to Clichy-la-Garenne. When it was formed as a street in 1855 it was given the name of Jacques de Tallanel, the Marquis de La Jonquière, who was one of the last governors of Nouvelle-France, which became Canada in 1763.

Given its former cattle-path character, it is one of the few curving streets in Les Epinettes. Maybe every fifth building is modern concrete and boring while all the others go back some time, but without having much history.

I'm taking this street to get to the Cité des Fleurs which was, before 1924, named Villa des Fleurs. It was put together in 1847 by two property owners, L'Henry and Bacqueville, as a one-street subdivision of small town- houses, each with a garden in front.

This untypical garden street is strictly closed to non-residential traffic, and beggars and peddlersphoto: boucherie rue brochant are unwelcome, as are all 'strangers' and dogs. As I go through it I see one cat in the middle of the narrow street, and more than one dog, towing a minder.

In the Rue Brochant, near the covered marché between Brochant and the Rue des Moines.

The southern end of the Cité des Fleurs ends at its gate on the Avenue de Clichy, beside a sign full of dire warnings. Two blocks to the left on the avenue brings me to the Rue Brochant, which runs beside the local covered marché which has the Rue des Moines on its other side. It is so late that everything is closed, or it is too early for the shops on Rue des Moines to be open again.

Back on the Rue Brochant I head southwest towards the Square des Batignolles, which is a sizeable park with a bit of sun shining on it. From being an empty lot where the Fêtes des Batignolles were held, it was transformed in 1862 by Haussmann's park crew, led by Alphand, into Napoléon III's idea of a London 'square,' or park.

It has interesting, period park items - chalets, kiosks, a glass-enclosed lookout, a little river and a little waterfall and little lake, with a tall, black stone sculpture of vultures standing in it - sort of matching a live pair of sleepy black swans.

East from the park, the Rue Legendre passes the Sainte-Marie des Batignolles church, built in 1828 by Molinos and enlarged in 1834 and again in 1851 by Lequeux. The place in front of it is generous and placid - witha strange traffic option of being able to go left or right.

The Rue Legendre, which began life as the Rue d'Orléans in 1846, was once part of the 'Cheminphoto: church sainte marie de Monceau à Saint-Ouen.' After the church it crosses over the rails leading to Saint-Lazare, to Batignolles proper - which puts me right out of where I think Clichy is - or ought to be.

The Sainte-Marie des Batignolles church facing the Rue Legendre, near the Square des Batignolles.

This is a big arrondissement, mostly made up of the Sablons plain and further north, the plain of Monceau. According to a map dated 1731, there were the Château de Ternes, properties at Monceau and Villiers-la-Garenne, as well as the garden of the Planchette house and the cluster of a village at Clichy-la-Garenne.

Everything else surrounding these isolated outposts, was hunting grounds - guarded after 1701 by troops, forest rangers and game wardens.

All of this royal-and-lords-of-the-manor-privilege was a nuisance to the peasants. While it lasted - hundreds of years - the hunters destroyed truck gardens with abandon, then the Révolution took away their 'right to hunt.' These days, it is Brussels taking away the peasants' 'right to hunt,' but this does not concern Paris' 17th arrondissement anymore.

At one time - in 1672 - there was a line on the map around Paris, beyond which it was illegal to build. In effect, this permitted farms to be at edge of Paris. Edicts of 1724 and 1726 reinforced the building ban, which carried heavy penalties.

For a first offence - whipping and three years' banishment, and five years in the galleys for repeaters. The Révolution did away with this.

What is definitely an aerial photo - captioned as taken in 1789 - shows the plain of fields, disappearing into the indistinct horizon - with Monceau in the upper third, with a hazy Clichy beyond in the distance.

So then, gradually, before 1860, Batignolles as an area became a place to plunk down modest houses in the midst of potato fields - because it was out of town, because it was cheap. It attracted retired shop owners and others who wanted fresh air and fewer taxes.

Later, when promoters got into it, more substantial housing was built for retired officers, civil servants, actors and middle-management types on modest pensions.

I imagine it to be a bit the same today. If one can't afford the lifestyle of Monceau - or the 16th arrondissement - then Batignolles is definitely the place to be.

Buildings get more bourgeois along the Rue Legendre going south from the slash of the rails, andphoto: marche rue levis, batignolles then there is the long marché street of the Rue de Lévis, which ends at the big Villiers intersection.

This is an old street which began in the 12th century as the road from Paris to Argenteuil. The name dates to 1840, after one of the last owners of the Château de Monceaux which had its entry at number 22, Rue Legendre.

From the Rue Legendre, towards the marché in the Rue Lévis.

It was the real thing, a fortress with towers, soldiers' quarters and a prison - for the lords of the château were the local law. Among these were Huguenin Harod, who had Jeanne d'Arc as a guest.

But Batignolles - this seemed to be a place that captured the imagination! Paris' out-of-town sanctuary of affordable fresh air - and wine! - 160 years ago. For Clichy, I am just going to have to go back and go all the way out the Avenue de Clichy - right out of town.

In Metropole Paris
Latest Issue
2008 Issues
2007 | 2006 | 2005
2004 | 2003 | 2002
2001 | 2000 | 1999
1998 | 1997 | 1996
In Metropole Paris
About Metropole
About the Café Club
Links | Search Site
The Lodging Page
Paris Museums List
Metropole's 1996 Tours
Metropole's 2003 Tours
Support Metropole
Metropole's Books
Shop with Metropole
Metropole's Wine
metropole paris goodblogweek button
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini