THE PLACE DE LA BASTILLE is one of the most traffic-infested and noisiest parts of Paris.
The constant cacophony of traffic circulating the Colonne de Juillet, beating over the pavé, pollutes the air not only with carbon emissions but also with unwelcome sound.
Burning rubber in the Place de la Bastille:
But, thank goodness, all is not lost … a few steps away, through the archway of N°12, Place de la Bastille, lies a haven of relative peace.
La Cour Damoye, the entrance to which lies discreetly hidden between two cafés, rests for the most part unobserved by the tourists who pass by.
By day it is a discreet pedestrian thoroughfare but, once the gates are locked in the evening, it reverts to the exclusive use of the residents and the tranquil charm and intimate scale of turn-of-the-century Paris.
La Cour Damoye dates from the end of the eighteenth century. In the early nineteenth century it became home to scrap and rag merchants.
In 1914, the Paris photographer Eugène Atget photographed La Cour Damoye. By this time it had become the place where cart wheels were repaired. The skilled eye of the photographer captured this working atmosphere—the street lamps, the stored cart wheels on the paving stones, the ladders, and some workshops on the ground floor.
This was a small village where people used to live in harmony in a village-like atmosphere – and today they still do.
La Cour Damoye was renovated in the late 1990’s by the architect Didier Drummond but it still retains its turn-of-the-century character. Now, it is home to four upper stories of residential space, as well as artists, architects, and galleries in the ground-floor ateliers.
The sounds of today’s Cour Damoye:
The sounds of la Cour Damoye are very different today from the sounds to be found there in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries but, even so, today’s sounds are a great relief from the cacophony that is the rest of the twenty-first century Place de la Bastille.