Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Paris City walls

Hi Rachel,

Thinking about the connection between the historic city wall as a boundary and fortress and today's Peripherique, I went to the Pavillion-Arsenal, a museum about the development of Paris and it's architecture.

There have been several city walls, each time extending Paris's boundary outward. Since the middle ages the development of Paris had happened spontaneously around the trade routes, churches and convents. The first city wall was begun by Philippe Auguste in 1190.

Then is 1357 A new wall was started by Etienne Marcel, provost of the merchants. It was finished in 1383 by Charles V and enclosed parts of the north west suburbs. On the left bank the Philippe Auguste fortifications were rearmed and modernised, 6 new bastides were constructed, including Bastille (it seems incredible to imagine Bastille being at the edge of the City) From the map it looks like the wall had a moat around it.

Louis XIV (1638-1715) preferred Versailles, and so liked to keep the city at arms length, investing in the periphery. From 1670 the city began to loose protective fortifications in favour of a boulevard linked to new avenues built across the countryside. The capital became open again to the rest of the territory.

In the 18th century Paris was growing and extending it's boundaries, despite a desire to control the surrounding area with a degree banning construction in 1724, and in 1783 and 1784 others which aimed to check development by designing minimum width of street and regulations on prospect. So a new city wall was built in 1784 by the Fermiers Generaux, tax collectors on behalf of the king. Now their was again an intra-muros de velopment.

The last city wall was constructed by the Prime Minister Adolphe Thiers in 1840. These walls were for military fortification with outlying forts. By the time it was finished it enclosed a number of hamlets outside Paris, among them Auteuil, Passy, Montmartre, La Villette, and Belleville. It was dismantled in the 1920's (I need to find out why) This then became the site for the Périphérique which was built in the 1970's.

I'd like to find out more about what happened to the areas which the Périphérique cuts through when it was built. There were 50 years between the walls being pulled down and the motorway construction so how did that loss of connection play with the residents? I've started walking around the Périphérique and although there are bridges and walkways it is hard to get near it .


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