There is a wonderful children's picture book about history, entitled A Street Through Time : a 12,000-Year Walk Through History, that we wish had a parallel publication for Paris streets. The city is over two thousand years old and its streets have changed, of course. The map above shows our own patch as it was in about 1300; we calculate that we are at number eight or so.
Paris genealogical research is difficult, but French records are often quite detailed and give addresses. However, with the streets having changed many times over. (For a fun account of the most drastic changes to the city, read Haussmann or the Distinction, by Paul Lafarge, which we received with thanks from our jolly friend.) Not only have streets changed, some have been abolished or covered over, newer ones have been created, names duplicated, streets renamed many times over. In our neighbourhood, compared with the map above, the hospital is gone. Most of the surrounding streets have changed their names and one has been suppressed. Google Street View alone will not be much help in such cases without a bit more research.
That website of great help that looks pretty much like a mangled map of today's Paris, FranceGenWeb, has a subsection entitled ParisGenWeb. Here, one finds a section on the streets of Paris through time, giving an account of the streets, parishes, quarters, arrondissements, etc., with some maps. The major time periods covered are:
- Medieval Paris, from maps made about 1280-1300
- late-Medieval Paris, from a manuscript of about 1450
- 18th century streets of Paris, showing how they relate to modern streets
- Modern Paris
- Streets under water in the 1910 flood
- Street of the city and its suburbs in 1918
We use these street references constantly when researching a Parisian family and recommend them with enthusiasm, even gusto.
©2011 Anne Morddel