Quai Voltaire

Quai Voltaire (53)

Situated in the district of Saint Germain des Prés, the Quai Voltaire was known before as Quai des Théatins due to the convent of Theatine monks who lived there, the entrance of which is still visible at number 26 Rue de Lille. 

If you like antiques, you are in the best spot, since in this area some of the most famous and celebrated antique dealers in Paris are gathered.

It is also a very pleasant and peaceful street to walk around. You will be able to take in its elegant 18th-century mansions in which lived some important figures of the city.

At number 1 of the street lived Count Tessin, the Swedish ambassador. In the same building lived the sculptor James Pradier, who was famous for both his statues and for his wife, because she liked to swim naked in the Seine. At number 3 lived Louise de Kéroualle, a spy of Louis XIV and to whom Charles II of England took a fancy and named her Duchess of Portsmouth.

At number 9, several painters set up their studio here, including Vivant Denont, Ingres, Delacroix and Corot.

It is well worth passing in front of number 19 Quai Voltaire. Here lived the composers Richard Wagner and Jean Sibelius and the writers Charles Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde, who took refuge here during his exile from his native Ireland.

A little further on, the house of number 27 is where the French philosopher Voltaire died, on the 30th of May 1778, and you will see a plaque on the wall recalling the fact. The nearby church of Saint Sulpice did not want to accept his body arguing that Voltaire was an atheist. In order for him not to be buried in a common grave his body was moved to countryside. Years later in 1791, the street adopted his name in his honour.

As we have already mentioned, if you like art and antiques there is nowhere better in the city. The Quai Voltaire along with Rue du Bac, Rue des Saints-Pères and Rue de la Université form the square in which there are more antique dealers and art galleries concentrated in all Paris and nearly the world. There are as many as 120 establishments dedicated to art based in this area.

At number 13 Rue de la Université is an elegant 18th-century mansion that had several owners, among them the ambassador of Venice, and in the revolution it was used as a storehouse for arms and later, in the 1970s,  was transformed into the National School of Administration to train the high-ranking State civil servants. 

If you approach number 30 Rue des Saints-Péres you will be able to try those little pleasures of life that are a real temptation. Because here you will find the famous chocolate company Debeauve et Gallais, founded in 1811 and which stands out for its wonderful façade.

It will be the sweetest end to this lovely stroll.

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