4 rue des Anglais
4 rue des Anglais © Celette � Wikicommons

The English are Coming!

La rue des Anglais appears on maps of Paris in 1760, snaking its way through the 5th arrondissement from rue Lagrange to the swish boulevard Saint-Germain. But its origins go much further back, all the way to the Middle Ages. Already in 1450, there is a reference to this road under the name rue des Anglois, in what was, at the time, the fourth quarter of Paris, taking its name from the English students who lived in the neighbourhood while attending the famed Sorbonne university.

But perhaps the most notable address on this learned little street is somewhat less academic. The notorious Cabaret du Père Lunette at number 4 was founded during the Revolution by Lefèvre, who was better known by the nickname of Père Lunette due to the pince-nez he always carried attached somewhere on his ample chest.

It was here that intellectuals mingled with all walks of life, in the acrid, tobacco-filled air amidst the din of alcohol-fuelled debates. A sign with a giant pair of spectacles still graces number 4. A bit further down the street, number 8 has a claim to 70s fame, as the address of the first-ever gay club in Paris.

From France Today magazine

Read other instalments in our “Read the Signs” series:

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