Flâneries in Paris: Explore the Old Temple District in the Marais

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Flâneries in Paris: Explore the Old Temple District in the Marais
This is the third in a series of walking tours highlighting the sites and stories of diverse districts of Paris. The temple mentioned in so many street names in the third arrondissement – Rue du Temple, Rue Vieille du Temple, Rue du Faubourg du Temple – is no longer there. But I had a feeling that if I took a walk from the Temple metro station, I would find traces of it. And so it proved. I was surprised how many other historical references are hidden in this quiet little area, only three stops north of the Hôtel de Ville, yet not sought out by many tourists. Towers of the original fortress built by the Knights Templar. Public domain The original “Temple” was a 12th-century fortress built for the Knights of the Templar, a religious order whose exploits protecting pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem had made them very wealthy. Around it, as they prospered, grew up an area known as the “ville dans la ville” (town within the town), where several thousand people farmed and built a church, monastery and tower to house the treasure of the kings of France. By the early 1300s, King Philip the Fair, heavily in debt to the Templars and frightened by their wealth and power, disbanded the order and the area was left to fall into ruin. Miniature from the Hours of Étienne Chevalier with the Temple in the background. Public domain. When I climbed the steps out of the Temple metro station, the first thing I saw was Marianne, the huge statue rising up in the middle of Place de la République, erected on the 90th anniversary of the French Revolution as a “monument to the French Republic.” I planned to head the opposite way, down Rue du Temple, but was later to discover that there is a historical link between the two stories: the tower built by the Knights Templar and the demise of the French monarchy during the revolution. The Square du Temple. Wikimedia commons. A short walk up the Rue du Temple brought me to the lovely little Square du Temple, set up in 1857, one of 24 garden squares planned by Baron Haussmann in the redesign of the city which also brought the new wide boulevards and the Paris Opera House. The pond, trees and seating areas cover the area where the Temple once was. Today it is a family park, somewhere to exhaust your toddlers on the adventure playground, try out the table tennis tables or, if the bandstand is in use, enjoy a little music. It’s also a place to remember the families shattered by politics, war and persecution in the 1940s.
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Lead photo credit : The Temple area in 1734 - detail of the Turgot map of Paris. Public domain.

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Recently retired from teaching Modern Languages (French and German), Marian now has time to develop her interests in travel and European culture and history. She will be in Paris as often as she can, visiting places old and new, finding out their stories and writing it all up as soon as she gets home. Marian also runs the weekly podcast series, City Breaks, offering in-depth coverage of popular city break destinations, with lots of background history and cultural information. She has covered Paris in 22 episodes but looks forward to updating the series every now and then with some Paris Extra episodes.

Comments

  • Ellen Corradini
    2022-03-17 08:48:39
    Ellen Corradini
    Marian, I thoroughly enjoyed your article. I will be in Paris in a few weeks and plan to follow in your steps. How many places can you experience so much history in an afternoon's walk? Thank you for your insight and touching information.

    REPLY

    • Marian Jones
      2022-03-18 09:49:38
      Marian Jones
      Thank you, it's lovely of you to take the time to comment. I think there is enough history around every metro station, at least in the central arrondissements, if you know where to look. Perhaps you have already seen my first two 'Flânerie’ pieces, from the Cité and Abbesses metro stations? And there will be more over the coming months. I hope you have a great trip.

      REPLY