Paris history – what’s new?

Paris history – what’s new? Lots of new in the realm of the old. There’s lots looking back going on lately. Lots of comparing today with yesterday and inserting history into your daily life. A few examples.

paris-fenêtreJulien Knez, a Parisian by birth and by inclination has been artistic director for various agencies since 2000. A lover of Paris and a keen photographer he came up with the book “Paris a Frame for History” (published by Parigramme). Julien’s idea is to present historical photographs inset in contemporary settings. He opens some interesting windows to the past, plunging the contemporary spectator into the depths of time as if given the opportunity to stroll on different stages, at the heart of history in the making. Julien also had a website  where you can see his photos including those he has done of the 2016 flood compared to the infamous 1910 flood. Here are a few photos from his recent (bilingual French – English) book which covers photos from the Commune (1870) to May 1968.

Jardin du Luxembourg. 1895.

Paris history
These elegant ladies at the Jardin du Luxembourg were at the forefront of fashion, so rare was it in 1895 for women’s wear to be presented outdoors rather than in workshops.  © Ernest Roger/Roger-Viollet

Avenue de Friedland. 1909.

Paris History
On Avenue de Friedland, in 1909, double-decker trams drop off passengers just next to the Arc de Triomphe. ©Maurice-Louis Branger/Roger-Viollet

A similar book is “Retour à Paris, Identical shots, a hundred years apart” also from Parigramme by Daniel Quesney.

The blog Parisian Fields did a post on May 20th, 2016 about “Paris Marais 43: Arrondissements 4 & 3 photographiés durant l’Occupation” par Cayeux et Nobécourt (Creaphis Editions). In their post they describe their historical walk through the Marais with author of the book Patrice Roy. They mention many of the historical details that Mr Roy points out and offer a map of their tour.

Paris History
From Atget-Salon-des-coiffures-1912

If you would like some historical photos for your walls you’ll enjoy the site Vergue offers photographic treasures that have been restored and carefully documented from the birth of photography to the 1930s. Works by photographers Gustave Le Gray and Charles Marville are strongly represented, but also Atget, Nadar, Agence Rol and many others. The photos are in high resolution and can be downloaded for free.

Paris History
From Charles Marvillet. Chalet-des-necessiste-or-petit-palais-du-pipi-Champs-Elysees-1874
  • Gustave Le Gray (1820-1884) was the author of the first official photograph of a French head of state who was Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. He was an inventor and an artist, mastered photography technically but also composed with the light. He said: « J’émets le vœu que la photographie au lieu de tomber dans le domaine de l’industrie, du commerce, rentre dans celui de l’art. »
  • Charles Marville is principally known for his photographs of Paris before and during the Baron Haussmann’s renovations.

Paris HistoryTIMESCOPE
See the Bastille through time via the Timescope as you pan the scope across the plaza. Look through the scope and pan to see a presentation in 3-D virtual reality of the historical events that took place at the Bastille where you are standing. It starts with an empty field in the 15th century! Yes the Bastille was once out in the sticks. Buy a ticket online for 2€ at, then head over to the totem at the Bastille, between boulevards Beaumarchais and Richard Lenoir to learn about the history of the place as you stand there. Here’s a preview 


  • Paris: The visit of Paris during the German occupation. The application Paris during the Occupation is designed to guide you to nearly 100 places of occupied Paris during the World War II, from June 1940 to August 1944. On the Apple store.
  • Blue Lion Guides’ The American Revolution in Paris. You can discover Paris in the founding father’s footsteps. 2.5 hours covers Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and their time in Paris in the 18th century. Download the app
    or book the tour with human guides +33 (0)

Even the RER C is now fitted with the historical ceilings and walls of Versailles.Paris History