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May 30, 2014

6

Rue de Steinkerque – A Soundwalk

by soundlandscapes

RUE DE STEINKERQUE must be one of the most visited streets in Paris and yet I doubt that few people who pass along it will know it by name. At a little over one hundred and fifty metres long and seven metres wide it’s quite a small street but it has a footfall that far outweighs its size.

Rue Steinekerque

Rue de Steinkerque was originally a pathway in the commune of Montmartre. It was formally recognised as a street by decree in 1868 and it was officially named in 1877.

Its name comes from the Battle of Steinkerque fought near the village of Steenkerque, fifty kilometres south-west of Brussels, on 3rd August 1692. The battle was won by the French under Marshal François-Henri de Montmorency, duc de Luxembourg against a joint English-Scottish-Dutch-German army under Prince William of Orange.

Rue Steinekerque

Today, rue de Steinkerque is a well-trodden tourist trail leading from the Boulevard de Rochechouart and the Métro station Anvers to the Place Saint-Pierre and Montmartre.

Rue Steinekerque

And sitting at the top of the street on the summit of la butte Montmartre is the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, which seems to act like a magnet for the swathe of tourists in the street below.

But to get to this towering monument built as a penance for the excesses of the Second Empire and the Paris Commune of 1871, tourists have to negotiate the rue de Steinkerque with the crowds of people, the lines of gift shops, the trinket peddlers – and the thieves determined to surreptitiously remove anything of value from the unsuspecting tourists.

Rue Steinekerque

I went to explore rue de Steinkerque the other day and to record a soundwalk and, not for the first time in this street, I arrived at the top find that one of the pockets of my shoulder bag had been completely unzipped without me being aware of it. Thankfully, nothing was taken – this time!

Rue Steinekerque

Rue de Steinkerque – A Soundwalk:

Rue Steinekerque

Not quite all the shops lining the rue de Steinkerque are gift and trinket shops. At the bottom of the street is the Sympa store, a place to find cheap clothing, often big brand names at unbelievably low prices.

Rue Steinekerque

No investment in marketing here, the clothes are just dumped into bins by the roadside for the customers to rummage through.

Rue Steinekerque

By contrast, the street also boasts La Cure Gourmande, a renowned maker of biscuits, chocolates and confectionary …

Rue Steinekerque

… as well as la Maison Georges Larnicol and le Petit Musée du Chocolat, which is well worth a visit …

Rue Steinekerque

… and a couple of antique shops.

Rue Steinekerque

A lot of people who come to rue de Steinkerque come as part of a tourist group and so it’s quite common to see tourist guides with their distinctive umbrellas gathering their flocks for the trek up the street.

Rue Steinekerque

If you find yourself heading for Montmartre you will more than likely find yourself in rue de Steinkerque at some point. Enjoy the atmosphere – but beware those who might be out to spoil your day!

Rue Steinekerque

Rue Steinekerque

Rue Steinekerque

Rue Steinekerque

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. hmunro
    May 30 2014

    Marvelous! I especially loved how snippets of other languages leaped out of the background of steady French. Also very glad to read that nothing was taken from you bag. Sadly, it’s one of the first things I think of when I enter a particularly dense or touristy crowd in Paris.

    Reply
    • Jun 1 2014

      Thanks Heather. I know what you mean. I’m always cautious in crowds but even so, I wasn’t aware of a thing until after the event – even though it happened to me once before in this street. Still, no harm done thank goodness.

      Reply
  2. May 30 2014

    Good thing you didn’t lose anything! Thanks for making this recording – it was especially comforting to listening to it this quiet evening and to feel, momentarily, that the streets of Paris are in my living room 🙂

    Reply
    • Jun 1 2014

      Thanks Angelina. I’m pleased you enjoyed these sounds and that they brought Paris right to your doorstep. That makes it all worthwhile.

      Reply
  3. May 31 2014

    Great work, as always! You have a real talent in hearing acoustic perspective, the sounds that exist between yourself and the greater ambience beyond.

    Reply
    • Jun 1 2014

      Thanks JD. I think the trick is to become part of the soundscape but without changing it in any way. To record scenes like this I find it best to get right in amongst the crowd. The closer you get the better the recording.

      Reply

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