Which famous people are these Paris streets are named after?

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Which famous people are these Paris streets are named after?
The square Samuel Paty set opposite the Sorbonne in Paris' Latin Quarter. Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

While most people probably have an idea who Place Charles de Gaulle or Place Edith Piaf are named after, there are plenty lesser-known but equally influential figures honoured with Paris streets named after them.


From politicians, to scientists, thinkers, writers and inventors, let The Local shed some light on who some of Paris’ most beaten paths are named after. 

READ ALSO Which French figures have the most streets named after them?

Square Samuel Paty

This is a recent renaming, with Paris one of several towns to honour Paty in this way. Samuel Paty was a teacher of history and geography in a French school who was beheaded by an Islamist terrorist in 2020 after distorted rumours spread online about him showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in one of his civics classes, in which he was discussing the issue of free speech.

Rue de Richelieu

Running from the 1st to 2nd arrondissement this street used to be home to coin dealers and currency exchanges. It’s named after Cardinal Richelieu (1585 – 1642) who served as Louis XIII’s chief minister - he's probably best known to anglophones as the baddie in The Three Musketeers.


Rue Étienne Marcel

Now well-known for its expensive shops, Rue Étienne Marcel, in the 1st and 2nd, got its name from a government official (Étienne Marcel, approx. 1302 - 1358) who negotiated with kings to bring in governmental reforms and increased state powers. 

Rue Réaumur

Nothing to do with rumours or gossip, Rue Réaumur, in the 2nd and 3rd, commemorates scientist René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (1683 – 1757) famous for his studies in geometry, thermometers and insects.

Boulevard Raspail

Connecting the 6th and 14th arrondissements, this grand boulevard honours scientist and socialist politician François-Vincent Raspail (1794 – 1878), who was imprisoned for being president of the human rights society.

While in prison he treated other prisoners for their diseases and became an early advocate of germ theory, promoting antiseptics, sanitation and a healthy diet.

Quai Anatole France

Sandwiched between the Musée d’Orsay and the Seine in the 7th arrondissement, this busy road is named after writer, literary critic and Nobel Prize winner, Anatole France (1844 – 1924).

Boulevard Haussmann

Appropriately there are plenty of examples of classic Parisian Haussmann-style buildings on this long boulevard running between the 8th and 9th arrondissements.

The man behind them Georges-Eugène Haussmann (1809 – 1891) was commissioned by Napoleon III to renovate Paris, the results of which are many of the parks, boulevards and pervasive style of architecture that the city is still known for today. 


Rue la Fayette

Rue la Fayette spans two arrondissements (the 9th and 10th) and commemorates the “hero of two worlds”, French military officer Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette (1757 – 1834) who commanded US troops in the American war of independence and later became a leading figure in the French Revolution. 

He has plenty of streets, schools and even towns named after him in the USA too.

Boulevard Voltaire

Cutting diagonally through the 11th this street name honours outspoken writer François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plume Voltaire (1694 – 1778), whose works embody the principles of the French Enlightenment; individual freedom and religious tolerance. 

Rue Vercingétorix

Running almost the full length of the 14th arrondissement, this street is named for an Auvergne folk hero, who united the Gauls to fight against Roman invasion.

When the fight was ultimately unsuccessful, Vercingétorix (approx. 80 BC – approx. 46 BC) handed himself over to the Romans in order to save as many of his men as possible. Despite these impressive achievements, he's perhaps best known to most French people as a character in the Astérix comic books. 


Quai André Citroën

It might not be the most beautiful of Paris streets but it seems appropriate that the 15th’s Quai André Citroën, named after the vehicle manufacturer (1878 – 1935), is always choc full of cars.

Boulevard Pasteur

Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895) was a scientist who, along with creating a vaccination for rabies, also pioneered the process of heating foods to eliminate bacteria, otherwise life known as pasteurisation and extend shelf life. He's one of France's best-known scientists and the leading research centre the Institut Pasteur is named after him.

Avenue Félix Faure

This calm and quiet street in the 15th gets its name from a former French president Félix Faure  who was in office from 1895 – 1899. 

Unfortunately for him, Faure is perhaps best known for the manner of his death - he died suddenly in the presidential Élysée Palace while engaged in sexual activities in his office with 30-year-old Marguerite Steinheil.

Avenue Victor Hugo

The famous writer Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885) who penned Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame has streets named after him throughout France. In Paris, Avenue Victor Hugo is in the 16th arrondissement.

Avenue Foch

In 1929 the wide avenue between the Bois de Bologne and the Arc du Triomphe in the 16th was renamed after the WWI general and military strategist Ferdinand Foch (1851 – 1929), who died in the same year.

During the WWII occupation of Paris, the Gestapo headquarters were located on the street earning it the nickname “Avenue Boche.”

Quai Louis Blériot

Next to the Seine in the 16th, Quai Louis Blériot is named after an aviator and engineer Louis Blérot (1872 – 1936) who invented the headlamp for cars and made the first airplane flight across the English Channel.

Rue Guy Môquet

Militant communist Guy Môquet (1924 – 1941) became a symbol of the French resistance after he died at the hands of the Nazis. He lived close by to the street now named after him in the 17th. 

Place Jules Joffrin

Jules Joffrin (1846 – 1890) was a radical socialist politician who was exiled in Britain for 11 years before ultimately serving as vice president. Place Jules Joffrin is in the 18th.

Avenue Jean Jaurès

The somewhat unremarkable Avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th doesn’t give much indication of the high ideals of its namesake. Socialist Jean Jaurès (1859 – 1914) famously opposed French involvement in World War I, and was assassinated for his pacifist views in a café on Rue Montmartre. He has street named for him all over France, especially in his home region of the south-west.

Avenue Gambetta

Léon Gambetta (1838 – 18882) was a politician who was a key figure in the third republic famous for being a great orator and fierce defender of the lower classes. Avenue Gambetta is in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, but he's another figure who has streets all over France named for him.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also