At the heart of the Marais district in old Paris, many of the old medieval streets have retained their names. The origins of one such lane can be traced at least back to the 12th century. Much of the street was demolished during the construction of the Rue de Rivoli in 1854, but there remains just one block of the Rue des Mauvais Garçons in the 4th arrondissement, between the Rue de Rivoli and the Rue du Roi de Sicile, right around the corner from City Hall.
The original name of this street used to be Rue Chartron, but the locals would refer to it by another name, the ‘bad boys’ street, a name that prevailed until in 1540 it became official. There are several versions of the reason behind the designation. According to one, the ‘bad boys’ name was given because there were many butchers along this street known for their liberal ways with a knife.
The New Historical Dictionary of Paris by Gustave Pessard says that it referred to the gangs of rowdy young men who invaded Paris during the captivity of King Francis I in 1525. For balance, Paris also has a street named for the well-behaved children, the Rue des Bons Enfants in the 1st arrondissement between the Palais-Royal and the Louvre – and it’s twice as long.
From France Today magazine