Boulevard Saint-Michel

Boulevard Saint-Michel

Boulevard Saint-Michel, Paris
Length 1,380 m (4,530 ft)
Width 30 m (98 ft)
Arrondissement 5th, 6th
Quarter Sorbonne. Odéon.
From Place Saint-Michel
To Place Ernest Denis
Completion 1855
Denomination February 26, 1867

The Boulevard Saint-Michel (French pronunciation: [bulvaʁ sɛ̃ miʃɛl]) is one of the two major streets in the Latin Quarter of Paris (the other being the Boulevard Saint-Germain). It is a tree-lined boulevard which runs south from the pont Saint-Michel on the Seine river and the Place Saint-Michel, crosses the boulevard Saint-Germain and continues alongside the Sorbonne and the Luxembourg gardens, ending at the Place Camille Jullian just before the Port-Royal railway station and the avenue de l'Observatoire. It was created by Baron Haussmann to run parallel to the rue Saint-Jacques which marks the historical north-south axis of Paris.

The boulevard serves as a boundary between the 5th and 6th arrondissements of Paris; odd-numbered buildings on the eastern side are in the 5th arrondissement and even numbers on the western side are in the 6th. It has a length of 1380 m, an average width of 30 m and takes its name from the pont Saint-Michel. In slang, the boulevard is sometimes referred to as the Boul'Mich.

As the central axis of the Latin Quarter, it has long been a hotbed of student life and activism, but tourism is also a major commercial focus of the street and designer shops have gradually replaced many small bookshops. The northern part of the boulevard is now the most frequented, due to its bookstores (such as Gibert Joseph and the Gibert Jeune), cafés, cinema and clothes shops.

The main buildings of the boulevard are the Musée de Cluny, the lycée Saint-Louis, the École des Mines, and the cité universitaire, the university area of the Sorbonne.


The boulevard Saint-Michel was the other important part of Haussmann's renovation of Paris on the Left Bank along with the creation of the Boulevard Saint-Germain. It was formerly approximated by the rue de la Harpe which for centuries led from the Seine to the Porte Saint-Michel, a gate to the walls of Paris near what is now the intersection of the Boulevard Saint-Michel and rue Monsieur le Prince. Construction of the Boulevard was decreed in 1855 and began in 1860. The boulevard was initially known as the boulevard de Sébastopol Rive Gauche, but was changed to Boulevard Saint-Michel in 1867.[1] The name is derived from the eponymous gate destroyed in 1679 and the subsequent Saint-Michel market in the same area (the current Place Edmond Rostand). [2]

Numerous streets disappeared as a result of the boulevard's creation, including the rue des Deux Portes Saint-André, the passage d'Harcourt, the rue de Mâcon, the rue Neuve de Richelieu, the rue Poupée, part of rue de la Harpe and of rue d'Enfer, part of the former place Saint-Michel and the rue de l'Est. The part of the boulevard Saint-Michel at the entrance of the rue Henri Barbusse and the rue de l'Abbé de l'Epée was previously known as the place Louis Marin.

During 1871, the Hôtel des Etrangers was the meeting place of the Vilains Bonhommes (renamed Circle Zutique by Charles Cros) which included Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud.

Jules Vallès, socialist writer and survivor of the Paris Commune was buried in the cemetery of Père-Lachaise. His body was carried there from the funeral home at n° 77, into which 10,000 people are claimed to have squeezed.

On December 10, 1934, the founders of the Comité de rédaction du traité d’analyse met at the Café A. Capoulade, n° 63, to discuss writing a textbook on mathematical analysis. This meeting included Henri Cartan, Claude Chevalley, Jean Delsarte, Jean Dieudonné, René de Possel and André Weil. They were, together with others, to become famous in mathematical circles as the Bourbaki Group.


Map of the 5th arrondissement of Paris showing the Boulevard Saint-Michel (on the left).

The closest metro stations are:


Boulevard Saint Michel near Musée de Cluny



Extension to the sea

A political candidate named Duconnaud famously proposed, as an electoral promise, to "extend the boulevard Saint-Michel to the sea." The idea was taken up by Ferdinand Lop who, responding to the question of how to know at which end it would be extended, answered with panache: "It will be extended to the sea at both ends". This is the version given by Alphonse Allais.


  1. Saint-Germain-des-Prés et son faubourg, p. 477, Dominique Leborgne, Editions Parigramme, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-84096-189-X
  2. Saint-Germain-des-Prés et son faubourg, p. 113, Dominique Leborgne, Editions Parigramme, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-84096-189-X
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-06-10. Retrieved 2006-01-14. (in French)
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-01-14. Retrieved 2006-01-14.

External links

Coordinates: 48°51′00.00″N 2°20′32.90″E / 48.8500000°N 2.3424722°E / 48.8500000; 2.3424722

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