#5 – Janvier / January 2023

Michael Punt

Paris Par Arrondissement[1]

Paris Par Arrondissement

If you have planned this well you will have no need of maps but, just in case, be sure to have your copy of Paris par Arrondissement (EDITIONS L’INDISPENSABLE) in your pocket.[2] Trust the creaking floor and the faulty door catch and take the lift from the 5ème étage to its final stop. You are on your own from here so follow the staircase down on the right so as to miss the worst of the holes in the carpet. Cross the lobby avoiding contact with the concierge who, ever suspicious of moonlighters, will ask you where you are going if she catches your eye. It is best not to leave too early, and on no account tell her what you are about to do.[3] Turn right out of the door onto the street and turn left into RUE RODIER and at the very end turn left along the RUE DE MAUBEUGE until it meets the RUE DE CHATEAUDUN.[4] Wait for a moment to work out the next move. Do not be hurried by the impatient man with the walking stick at your elbow: then, in a left-hand dog-leg cross to R DU de FG MONTMARTRE and follow this until it meets Bould HAUSSMANN MONTMARTRE slightly after it becomes BD POISSONNIERE. This is the road that separates the 9e from the 2e. At this junction make a very difficult move to the right. (If you wish to maximize your stay in the 9e do not cross the road until you can take the RUE DE RICHELIEU cleanly at 90 degrees).

the difficult turn at Rue de Richelieu

Follow this across the R. DU 4 SEPTEMBRE until it meets R. D. PETITS CHAMPS into the 1er.[5]  This way you cross the 2e and postpone the confusion in the gutter. To add variety after so many straight lines, turn sharp left into the R. Beaujolais and right at the end at Pl Pavillons so as to follow the R. de Valois along its length until it meets the RUE DE RIVOLI. A left and a right at R. Aml. d. Col will take you to the river and you will have avoided the uneventful passage through the Louvre.

the uneventful passage through the Louvre

Fight upstream by turning left along Q. MEGISSERIE, cross Pl. du Châtelet to Q. DE GESVRES into the 4e and Q DE L’HOTEL DE VILLE. Turn right and cross the river by way of Pont Louis Philippe and R.J. du Bellay. (On the corner of QUAI D’ORLEANS at the foot of Pt. St. Louis there is a café and the chocolate is very good – but do not stay too long). Cross the river by way of Pt. St. Louis and enter the 5e by using Qu. l’Archeveché and Pont l’Archeve quickly dogleg left to take R. des Bernardins until it meets RUE MONGE where things settle down a bit. Follow this away from the river, past Cardal Lemoine to Monge. A quick left immediately after the station into R Malus and right into R. de la Clef will take you directly into Sq. Scipion. Escape from this with a right-hand dogleg into Scipion. As soon as you reach the corner you can take a deep breath and a leisurely right into BOULD. St. MARCEL which very soon becomes BOULD. DE PORT ROYAL allowing you to leave it behind you without changing direction. By crossing over and walking on the left-hand side of the road you can take a brief excursion in the 13e without troubling to see it. Purpose and a determined gait will, if you stay on the left, take you for an even briefer excursion into the 14e where, at the unavoidable collision between DENEROCHEREAU and AV. D.L’ OBSERVATOIRE, a half right almost due north and a rapid right will take you into Rue d’Assas.


the unavoidable collision

Rue d’Assas becomes R. D’ASSAS as it diagonally bisects the 6e until it comes to an abrupt halt where RUE DU CHERCHE MIDI meets it at Pl Alp Deville and you can leave the confusion behind you.

an abrupt halt

A carefree right into RUE DU CHERCHE MIDI and a left at Car.d. l. Crx. Rouge will present SEVRES BABYLONE ahead of you where an immediate right will take you into the 7e. Avoiding the barrows and hotel shills follow RUE DE BABYLONE to Pl. A. Tardieu and straight across BOULD. DES INVALIDES into Rue d’Estrée (which you will see slightly to your left) into Pl. de Fontenoy where a straightforward left turn will lead you directly into the AV. DE LOWENDAL. The gutter is cleaner for these complex manoeuvres, but it is still slippery (and a difficult move) so tread carefully to make sure you take a the proper right at the corner with AV. DE SUFFREN which (keeping to the left) will take you along the edge of the 15e and back to the river where you should turn down stream away from the tourist busses at QUAI BRANLY to the foot of Pt de Bir-Hakeim.

the gutter is cleaner here

Facing up to the crossing, Pt de Bir-Hakeim will reward you by taking you directly into R. d l’Alboni where a right at Pl de Costa Rica into Rue Franklin will lead you past the jewel of the 16e: Jardins du Trocadéro. This is divided by two unruly roads, so it is best ignored. Amid the confusion at the Pl. du Trocadéro make a courageous left fork up AV. Rd. POINCARÉ to the Place Victor Hugo. A little way further on will take you to AV. FOCH where R. Duret will be tempting you to cross to the right. Do not resist but embrace its allure with excess for it will take you to the heroic AV. DE LA GRDE. ARMEE where a positive right will lead you on away from La Défense. The traffic here can be heavy so an abrupt left into R An. de la Force and left into AV. CARNOT will give some respite. It will become more peaceful as you turn right into RUE DES ACACIAS which will take you to AVENUE DES TERNES. By turning right into this and following it through RUE DU FG. ST. HONORE you will have avoided much military excess and the avarice of Place D Ch. d. Gaulle as you have included the 17e in your excursion.

the avarice of Place D Ch. d. Gaulle

You are now in the 8e.  Speed here will be your undoing so be patient and turning gently left into RUE DE MONCEAU you will find that you have effortlessly achieved BD. DES BATIGNOLLES. Keep on the right-hand side of the road up to the Pl. de Clichy. At this point it is necessary to concentrate because extreme precision is required for the next part of the journey otherwise a careless error could mean that you will have wasted your time. Follow BD. DE Clichy keeping to the left-hand side no matter what distractions there may be to cross. Continue bearing left until it becomes BD. DE ROCHEOUART and then transforms into BD. LA CHAPELLE. This will ensure a visit to the 18e.

‘… no matter what distractions there may be to cross.’

Do not be tempted into RUE D’AUBERVILLIERS but find Boul. DE LA VILLETTE which will introduce you to the 19e – but only if you cross the road and walk on the left. After a short while you will see STALINGRAD metro station which is at the foot of St. Martin. What follows is not entirely clear, but the edge markings will help considerably as you find your way to JEAN JAURES at Pl. de Stalingrad just after crossing BASSIN DE LA VILLETTE.[6]

‘… edge markings will help considerably …’

Things become simpler as long as you hold your line and remain on the left-hand side of this road until, with some relief, you find yourself in front of BELLEVILLE. Do not anticipate this but wait until it is on your immediate left before drifting across the BD. DE BELLEVILLE to visit the 20e, and then, in a brisk walk, follow it into BD. DE MENILMONTANT which will take you past the gates of Cimetière de l’Est dit du Père Lachaise.[7] As you continue into BOULD. DE CHARONNE on no account be tempted by the sight of Place de la Nation. If your curiosity cannot be contained at this late stage of the walk your efforts will end in disappointment.[8] At the foot of this Boulevard, with more determination than Lot’s wife, you should avoid eye contact and turn your face towards AV. DU TRONE and immediately turn left into BD. D. PICPUS along which route you can regain your composure as you follow it for its whole length to the junction with BD. DE REUILLY (where you must turn right).[9] At the Place F. Eboué join the AVENUE DAUMESNIL – a railway infested road which crosses the gutter and divides the 12e. This route enables a slightly counter intuitive half right into the AV. LEDRU-ROLLIN which, once it takes you over RUE DU FAUBOURG, will allow you to make contact the 11e. A left out of Place Léon-Blum into BOULD. VOLTAIRE will offer time for an uninterrupted reflection on the best of all possible walks as it leads to the limit of this arrondissement where it becomes the 3e. By following RUE MESLAY, which runs parallel to BOULD. ST. MARTIN, you can secure your presence there until it meets R. St. MARTIN which you must cross into R. Ste. Apolline. It has been a demanding journey and you may be tired but great precision is required here to avoid revisiting the 2e. Keep turning right into BOULD. DE SEBASTOPOL. Do not cross the road but wait until it becomes BD. DE STRASBOURG at which point (possibly with some regret) you must leave the 3e behind you taking a quick left into R.de Metz and a right into RUE DU FAUBG. SAINT DENIS.

You are coming to the end of your excursion and the light may be failing, but if you have done everything right and there is time to wind down with a little levity, then you might take a sentimental diversion.

and there is time

In which case, the sixth turning on the right off RUE DU FAUBG. is the P. du Désir, take this and a left into BD. DE STRASBOURG followed by a left into R. Jarry[10] and dogleg into R. DE PARADIS which avoids any contact with the evening squalor of the railway stations and will also lead you nicely out of the 10e and back into the 9e at R. Bleu.[11] 

Café and bordello

By the metro station Cadet and on the opposite side of LA FAYETTE there is a small café where you can be assured of a suspicious welcome and a faultless indifference. Whatever the weather the door is always open onto the street. If you do take a rest to shake off the evening chill, do not be disturbed by the rabbi who periodically enjoys the affordance of the open door and leaves his coffee on the zinc bar to stand outside and look up at the window of a bordello. He is always there. When you are refreshed climb the RUE CADET, avoiding the eyes of the two militiaman standing in the doorway of an hotel, (their trigger fingers are itchy).[12] Bear left as hard as possible at the first opportunity, past two dirty cafes and there, on the corner, is your hotel – just where you left it.

Your work is done. Obtain your key from the concierge who will look up and somehow not see you while adding faint numbers to invisible columns in the ledger. Mount the steps to the first floor and take your chances with the creaking lift. Watch the cables through the fin de siècle wirework. They are caked in grease and decades of breadcrumbs (hastily swept out of rooms into the lift shaft) which gives them the stringy cadaveric appearance that always tests the nerves. As they drop with sinister indolence into the expanding emptiness below you, have faith in your copy of Paris par Arrondissement (EDITIONS L’INDISPENSABLE) to guide you in any onward travel.

Michael Punt
December 2022


[1] I began writing this piece in 1984. I have revisited it periodically and shared the drafts. I am grateful to many colleagues over the years, and especially artist and writer Paul Towey, for the encouragement to bring it to this stage. The first draft was written on an Oliver no.5 ‘Bat Wing’ typewriter (c1910) bought in a Belfast junk shop. Later drafts were made on the more modern Adler Tippa and then through various iterations of Microsoft Word. I have used Courier as the font throughout to reflect these origins but taken the liberty of using a smaller point size for footnotes and titles for the sake of appearance.

[2] Edition 1984

[3] The days can be short in December and the street lights are unreliable. This can make navigation more difficult.

[5] As you move from the 2e the 1er, R. D. PETITS CHAMPS appears to become R. DES Pts CHAMPS, but it is in fact the same road

[6] The unseemly sprawl of the 19e affords it the distinction of a two-page entry (SECTEUR NORD and SECTEUR SUD). They are both accessed under a single tab (19) effectively hiding the SECTEUR SUD in plain sight. This can lead to some confusion but its a handy trick to know if you are Lemmy Caution skipping out of Alphaville in a Ford Galaxy.

[7] The purist may object, but it is understandable that you may want to make a small diversion to leave another rose with Marguerite Duras. (You will know where to go). If you do, be sure to clear your thoughts as you return to BD. DE MENILMONTANT and follow through BOULD. DE CHARONNE.

[8] Its affective history is too complex for today so in a difficult move (again complicated by the gutter) show it your back.

[9] If you find yourself in R. DE PICPUS you have jumped the gun but, as long as you avoided the Place de la Nation, there is no need to worry as it will lead you to the same junction where you should meet up with the main route.

[10] Formerly Passage Neveu and renamed after Nicholas Jarry a Master writer of devotional books. No matter.

[11] The purist may resist this and remain loyal to RUE DU FAUBG. turning right into R. DE PARADIS. This is perfectly understandable.

[12] These are unlikely to be militia. The arrangements for securing Paris have undergone several structural changes. At the time of the first draft these were probably members of Brigade Anticommando (BRI-BAC). Subsequent reorganisation of security does not diminish the need for caution here.