Explore the Rue du Cardinal-Lemoine on the Left Bank

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Explore the Rue du Cardinal-Lemoine on the Left Bank
Rue du Cardinal-Lemoine is an unassuming street in the 5th arrondissement. Extending from the Seine, up the slope of the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, this lesser-known thoroughfare is tucked away, backstage behind the showpieces of the Sorbonne and the Panthéon. However, the Rue du Cardinal-Lemoine reveals some of its own secrets and arcane gems as the street crests at the Place de la Contrescarpe. Rue du Cardinal Lemoine – plan de Paris Hachette 1894. Public domain The street bears the name of Jean Lemoine, a cardinal to the 13th-century Pope Boniface VIII. Lemoine was the first to formulate the legal principle of the presumption of innocence. A college bearing his name was founded in 1302 and the street was opened on what was once the college grounds. Near Blaise Pascal’s address on the rue du Cardinal-Lemoine. Photo credit: Hazel Smith Largely hidden from site are the vestiges of the wall of Philippe II Augustus, a fortification dating from the end of the 1100s, which define the street’s shape. Remnants of this stony wall are found in basements and back alleys. The street also hides villas and gardens behind heavy carriage doors that the casual flâneur can’t see. Vibrant gate on rue du Cardinal-Lemoine. Wikimedia commons As you walk, the face of rue du Cardinal-Lemoine changes as the hill rises. The rue begins at the corner of the Quai de Tournelle where the first notable address is the Tour d’Argent. Hailed as the oldest restaurant in Paris, the legendary Tour d’Argent dates back to 1582. Sixteenth-century nobles visited the inn looking for a smart place to eat. The story goes that it was because of these dandies in their immaculate starched ruffs that the fork became commonplace in France. (This amazing, and ever-so-useful, piece of cutlery was imported from Italy to France by Catherine de Medici.) The Michelin-starred Tour d’Argent still shines brightly today and has remained an elegant place to eat. Alas, in 2022 it’s under renovation and so tightly wrapped it’s as if the late Christo has had a hand it its binding. (Read our recent interview with the restaurant’s owner here.)

Lead photo credit : Hôtel des Grandes Écoles. photo credit: Hazel Smith

More in 5th arrondissement, bilipo, Hemingway, hotel le brun, Le Foodist, le puits de legumes, lemoine, librairie L'amour du noir, librairie pages anciennes, Montagne Sainte-Geneviéve, paradis latin, Paul Verlaine, phillippe auguste, rognoni college, Rue du Cardinal, Tour d’Argent

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A freelance writer and amateur historian, Hazel knew she wanted to focus on the lives of French artists and femme fatales after an epiphany at the Musée d'Orsay. A life-long learner, she is a recent graduate of Art History from the University of Toronto. Now she is searching for a real-life art history mystery to solve.


  • Hazel Smith
    2022-12-02 02:03:52
    Hazel Smith
    Hi Kelly, The France Media Group, of which Bonjour Paris is a part, is offering this 2023 calendar of France. https://francemedia.shop/products/france-calendar-2023 - hope this helps.


  • Kelly Hughes
    2022-12-01 05:58:21
    Kelly Hughes
    Hi, will there be a Bonjour Paris calendar for 2023? Thank you!