Do you remember I told you we lived in the “grimy” end of the 17th? Well there is a little haven of beauty here too; a street called Cité des Fleurs, only 2 minutes walk from our front door. I’ve been waiting impatiently for the trees to come into leaf and the flowers to bloom so that I could show you photos of this scenic little sanctuary in its spring greenery.
Cité des Fleurs is a private cobbled street that runs between rue de la Jonquiere and Avenue de Clichy. It is gated at both ends; only the vehicles of residents are allowed in, pedestrians can walk through at most times (but not Sunday afternoon or public holidays); it’s the route I take if my spirits need a lift, or just for the pleasure of it.
Walking along the street there is though a frank sign that not all the days in the history of this street would have been as uplifting as I find it.
A plaque fixed to the wall at number 25 tells that on 18 May, a spring day in 1944, in that building members of the resistance were arrested by the Gestapo for printing fake papers. One person, the leader, was executed on site and 6 others died on deportation. A book I am reading, “Seven Ages of Paris – portrait of a city” by Alistair Horne, comments that printers and photographers in the resistance networks in Paris were especially vulnerable because of the immobility of their equipment. Just in this little corner of the city, I feel the sense of history; confronting and fascinating.
Another notable mention in the street’s history is that Alfred Sisley, one of the well-known Impressionist painters, lived here and painted a pastoral view from the street looking towards Montmartre in 1869. The street had only been developed in 1846 when this part of Paris was becoming more populated due to the establishment of engineering workshops to supply the rail industry. The need for workers brought people to the quartier. It also created wealth and hence the development of this enclave of elegant houses.
According to my guide book – A Paris Walking Guide; 20 Charming walks – the developers imposed strict codes for building height, the minimum number of trees to be planted, types of vases required on fence posts for ornament and even what species of flowers could be planted.
Today as I walk along the street the huge chestnut trees are in flower, the perfume of the Lilac flowers can be smelt almost as soon as you enter the street and the Wisteria is draping its blooms along the fence. I knew it would be spectacular when spring took hold and there’s more to come with the roses still to flower.