In the midst of the Latin Quarter district lies a beautiful passageway that one cannot afford to miss when passing through St. Germain-des-Prés. It is situated across from Boulevard St. Germain, and behind one of the oldest streets in Paris, the rue de l'Ancienne Comédie .
Known as Cour du Commerce St. André, the small passageway, which has cobbled alleyways and is partially covered with a glass roof, was built in 1776 and its short route is laden with history.
One landmark of mention is the print shop where the revolutionary newspaper L'Ami du Peuple, owned by Jean-Paul Marat, was printed. A complete extremist afflicted with painful skin rashes, Jean-Paul Marat was stabbed to death by Charlotte Corday in 1793, in the bathtub in which he was spending several hours a day to relieve his condition. Charlotte Corday was born noble and had turned Republican - read Revolutionary - in the early years of the French Revolution. Disgusted by Marat's extremism and thirst for blood, she decided to kill him, and so she did. She was arrested immediately thereafter, expeditiously sentenced to death, and guillotined. Her bravery made her a very popular hero at the time.
Another leading figure of the French Revolution, Georges-Jacques Danton, once lived here as well, at No. 20 Cour du Commerce St. André. Danton's house was torn down to make room for the newly built Blvd. St. Germain in the mid-19th century, and is now commemorated by a statue at the Carrefour de l'Odéon, next to the entrance of the metro station.
Another site those visiting the passageway will see is the former workshop of Joseph-Ignace Guillotine, inventor of the infamous beheading device that now bears his last name.
Much of the passageway though is occupied by the back of the historic Café Procope, the oldest café in Paris. Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opened the restaurant and cafe (the entrance of which is located at No. 13 Rue de l' Ancienne Comédie) in the late 1600's. Over the years, famous patrons such as Voltaire, Napoléon Bonaparte, and Victor Hugo have passed through its doors. Hermann Goldschmidt is also believed to have discovered many minor planets from the upper room of the cafe. The Procope was refurbished in 18th-century style in the late 1980's. Downstairs there is a memorable red and gold dining room, and patrons can enjoy a cup of coffee on the iron balcony upstairs.
To get to the Cour du Commerce St. André, take the subway to the Odeon station, or buses 58, 63, 70, 86, 87, and 96.
Read another one of Zoie's features on Saint-Germain des Prés
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Zoie Clift is a talented contributor to Paris-Eiffel-Tower-News.com. Should you like her to write professionally for you, please contact her at .