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February 19, 2012


Rue de Vaugirard

by soundlandscapes

STRETCHING FROM BEHIND THE Théâtre de l’Odéon in the 6th arrondissement to Porte de Versailles in the 15th, the rue de Vaugirard is the longest street in Paris. Yesterday, I walked all 4.3 kilometres of it.

The origin of the rue de Vaugirard is a little uncertain but we know that the upper reaches of it were once the site of a Roman burial ground. We also know that Vaugirard was once called Val-Boitron, or Vauboitron named after the seigneur of a hamlet belonging to the Abbeye de Saint-Germain-des-Près. In the middle of the 13th Century an Abbot called Gérard, or Girard, turned Val-Boitron into a retirement community for the clergy of the Abbeye de Saint-Germain-des-Près. The name Val-Boitron thus became Val-Girard and then, in 1355, it became Vaugirard.  It was in 1860 that the former hamlet of Vaugirard was formally incorporated into the 15th arrondissement of Paris.

Yesterday, I began my walk at the Théâtre de l’Odéon.

The sounds of the rue de Vaugirard:

The rue de Vaugirard is full of gems for those who have the time to stop and take notice. After the Théâtre de l’Odéon, I came upon the French Senate building.

And then this curiosity, La Maison de Pupée, a shop selling dolls, doll’s houses and various other things from the miniature world.

Bookshops abound.

And a former Carmelite convent, which has a special interest for me.

Today, this former Carmelite convent is the Institut Catholique de Paris, still occupied by nuns of the Carmelite order. But, between 1888 and 1890, a physicist, Édouard Branly, occupied part of this building. He was doing research into electromagnetic waves and in 1890, he first demonstrated what he called the “radio-conductor,” which later became known as the coherer, the first sensitive device for detecting radio waves. With my mobile phone in my pocket, equipped as it is with state-of-the-art Wi-Fi, I couldn’t help saluting Edouard Branly and wondering what he would have made of it.

Further along the rue de Vaugirard I came upon this delicious art neuveau façade.

And then the new headquarters of Président Sarkozy’s UMP party. I couldn’t help thinking that, with the presidential election coming up soon, battle lines were being drawn inside this building.

The rue de Vaugirard also has a Metro station named after it.

It is possible of course to descend into this station and to take the quick route to the end of the rue de Vaugirard at Porte de Versailles. If one chooses to do that, this is the sound one would hear.

Metro from Vaugirard to Porte de Versailles:

Whether taking the Metro or walking, the rue de Vaugirard comes to an end at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre.

Centuries of history reside in the rue de Vaugirard, the longest street in Paris. I really enjoyed exploring it yesterday and I recommend a walk along this street to anyone who wants to discover more about this wonderful city.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Feb 26 2012

    A very busy road. I imagine it led to a different type of exhaustion compared to the 4.3 km walk that you managed. Hope there were a lot of cafes to sit down at along the way, and at least a nice train journey back.

  2. Feb 26 2012

    Thanks Jay. It was a long, but very enjoyable and interesting walk. This part of Paris is the ‘real’ Paris, few tourists venture here and, without the French language, one can become lost. Thankfully, I was not lost. I have a great affinity with this place.

    The sounds of this street of course are what they are. But I also collected some little sound nuggets which didn’t make it to the blog but which have been consigned to my Paris archive.

  3. Paris
    Mar 1 2012


    I’m an australian guy who was in Paris last month. I confim that this city is fabulous !!!

    I’ve seen a show in the Odeon theatre (, it was wonderful…

  4. glo harris
    Feb 16 2013

    I walked along rue Vaugirard several times my last trip to Paris, which was last month. (I stayed at a small hotel near Odeon Theatre.)
    I discovered the wonderful buildings where great artistic writers artists lived i.e. F Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner,Ray, etc. I also discovered a wonderful cafe and curious shop with old spoons and porcelain, my walk took me to many shops and I was exhausted, however, I will go back and continue to explore an area that fascinated me. I ended up at La Bon Marche a huge store.
    I am so happy I am discovering a city that totally fascinates me. I hope to return soon.

  5. May 15 2013

    Does anybody know where on the Rue Vaugirard the apartment of Francis Plowden, the theologian was? He died there in 1829

    • May 15 2013

      I’m afraid I don’t know exactly where Francis Plowden lived but I will try to find out for you.


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