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16 Rue Marie-Stuart, Paris 2e ar

random musings on a hot afternoon

This is my new notebook for jotting down ideas, websites and various things that might be of interest for this blog. Today being a sort of uninspired hot day I picked it up to go through my lists - but nothing spoke to me. So I thought I would have another look at something I had briefly checked out a while back. That address on the cover.

The '2e ar' by the way stands for 'deuxième arrondissement' - i.e the second district in Paris. So pretty central. Tourist wise you would know it by the old Opéra and the now long gone Les Halles. Although according to Trip Advisor it is also a financial and textile centre. The district's name is Montorgueil, which means Mount pride - although this is not quite what it might seem:

"In the Middle Ages, Parisians piled up their rubbish at the foot of the ramparts built by Charles V. Rue Montorgueil was chosen as the site for an open air rubbish tip. A mound of detritus, garbage, street sludge, rubble and other waste gradually covered the ground, forming a hill, which was ironically nicknamed Mons Superbus, and then Mont-Orgueil." Paris Life Magazine

During the next few centuries it became the food market centre of Paris with the construction, in the 19th century of Les Halles. It was such a Paris attraction that there was a huge amount of controversy when back in the 70s I think, it was moved out of the centre.

But the food culture persists, most notably in the main thoroughfare Rue Montorgueil which is now full of trendy cafés, bars, restaurants and clothes shops. Monet famously painted it, during some celebration on June 30 1878. Today it is pedestrianised.

But what of my Rue Marie-Stuart? Well it seems that this too has an origin story that may be as fanciful as all those food origin myths.

Mary Stuart, later Mary Queen of Scots, was married off as a teenager to the young Dauphin who later became Francis II - son of Catherine de Medici. When she arrived in France she spoke no French but was a fast learner. However, one day whilst out walking she came across a street called Tire-Boudin which she didn't understand. Well she wouldn't - it literally means pull sausage - which is actually referring to the tricks of the prostitute trade then flourishing in the area. Her guides were too embarrassed to tell her the real meaning, and said they didn't know and perhaps they should name it after her. So it was. I wonder how many snide remarks that caused amongst the nobility.

Anyway that's it's name still and it too has a few restaurants. However, what is at no. 16 is very hard to know. I have searched and found six restaurants located at the same address - all dated from 2010 - so it looks as if it is not a lucky venue for a restaurant. Indeed the only photograph I have found of one - Madame Stuart is a Google Maps street view, of a restaurant which is either in the early stages of restoration or which has been vacated. It certainly doesn't look occupied. But then who knows when Google did its street view trawl of the district.

There is an Instagram page for it though, which of course I cannot access. And I have to say that if that was the only website it ever had that's a pretty stupid thing - no way of accessing it unless you are of the Instagram community, and no visible way of booking. But then maybe this is all that is left, and it may well have once had a real website.

And what of the others - La Cevicheria was the first I found - a Colombian restaurant specialising in ceviche - raw fish. Now this does still exist - in fact there are four but not at this location, so I am guessing they moved it elsewhere. Then there is the Pompadour Cocktail Club, Le Petit Orgeuil, Stuart Friendly and Les Souris Dansent - all still with traces on the web - but with no real indication of whether any of them are still open.

Maybe COVID has destroyed Rue Marie-Stuart, or maybe just one of these restaurants. Maybe one of them is still there. All completely useless information I guess, and an idle way of passing the time on a hot summer afternoon. It's all a bit sad.

But one last thing - the street also boasts this rather lovely looking arcade - Le Passage du Grand Cerf. I think Cerf means a stag - yes it does. Rather like a Melbourne arcade.

As I say a random ramble. I wonder why the makers of this particular little notebook chose that address to put on their cover. I mean it is so much less important that the Eiffel Tower which also features on the cover. The design is by a Californian company - Cavallini Papers and co.

We'll never know.


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