ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting Place Napoléon III, formerly Place de Roubaix, Paris, France: honouring a controversial French Emperor again

Updated on July 1, 2013
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Gare du Nord Metro Station, Place Napoléon III, Paris
Gare du Nord Metro Station, Place Napoléon III, Paris | Source
Street sign, Place Napoléon III, Xth 'arrondissement'. Paris
Street sign, Place Napoléon III, Xth 'arrondissement'. Paris | Source
Intersection of Place Napoléon III and Boulevard de Denain at Gare du Nord, Paris
Intersection of Place Napoléon III and Boulevard de Denain at Gare du Nord, Paris | Source
Gare du Nord Metro entrance at Intersection of Place Napoléon III and Boulevard de Denain at Gare du Nord, Paris
Gare du Nord Metro entrance at Intersection of Place Napoléon III and Boulevard de Denain at Gare du Nord, Paris | Source

Changing names

For many years, the area close to the main façade of the Gare du Nord, Paris, France, was known as Place de Roubaix.

This also made much sense; since Roubaix is a leading city in the north of France which is served by the nearby station.

Intererstingly, during the 1977 - 1993 Paris Mayoralty of Jacques Chirac — later President of the Republic 1995 - 2007 — plans were drawn up, approved and implemented to call the former Place de Roubaix by a new name: Place Napoléon III.

The fact that this prominent area by Europe's busiest rail terminus is named for a man whose Second Empire régime came to power by a coup-d'état, may seem somewhat curious. While some enthusiasts would emphasize the images of gradeur which his system evoked, yet essentially his Imperial régime was a military dictatorship, identified with rule by decree.

Napoleon III would regularly be photographed in somewhat flamboyant military uniform; today, such photos evoke the typical, Latin American military dictators of the past.

Napoleon III of France, Charles-Louis Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon III of France, Charles-Louis Napoleon Bonaparte | Source
DE GAULLE SQUARE, MOSCOW. French President Jacques Chirac speaking at the unveiling of a monument to General Charles de Gaulle.
DE GAULLE SQUARE, MOSCOW. French President Jacques Chirac speaking at the unveiling of a monument to General Charles de Gaulle. | Source
Map location of Paris, France
Map location of Paris, France | Source

Rule by decree alive and well

In fact, under France's 5th Republic, introduced by President Charles de Gaulle in 1959, rule by decree, while not preponderant, is very much part of the system: the powers of the Presidency — albeit elected — were greatly strengthened at the expense of the National Assembly (French: Assemblée nationale). Within French republicanism there has long been an element of what is sometimes called 'Bonapartism' or even 'Caesarism' and at times of crisis there has been a recurring tendency to revert to rule by decree rather than by laws debated in a parliamentary setting: this may be an over-simplification, but it is undoubted that the legacy of two Empire systems has provided for a latent constitutional model of strong central rule.

Thus to the leadership of the Gaullist party in France, the idea of honouring Napoleon III, is not necessarily something to which they would be hostile.

An added dimension is that Napoleon's III's urban planner, Baron Haussman, was responsible for changing and beautifying the face of the city of Paris, having been given great powers to appropriate and demolish whole swaths of its Downtown area. The Second Empire was a period of grandiose building schemes, and work on several of the great Paris landmarks were initiated during the reign of Napoleon III.

Indeed, one of those lanmarks — and a very functional one — was the main façade of the Gare du Nord (1), opposite the public square now named for Napoleon III.

Thus, when Jacques Chirac was Mayor of Paris, it came about that the rationale give this public square a new name seemed strong to the Gaullist municipal leadership — even though in many ways Napoleon III was a dictator.

July 1, 2013

Note

(1) Also at Place Napoléon III is the Gare du Nord Metro station, with entrance iron workings by Hector Guimard (1867-1942) in Art Nouveau style (see main photo, above).

Also worth seeing

The hugely diverse visitor attractions of Paris cannot properly be expressed in a few phrases, but these include: the Eiffel Tower; Sacré-Cœur church on Montmartre,the Arc de Triomphe; the French National Assembly in the Bourbon Palace; place de la Concorde ; the Madeleine church; the Paris Opera; and many others.

...

How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle), from where car rental is available; however, visitors to Paris may wish to explore the city via its public transport system, which is excellent. The Place Napoléon III's proximity to the Gare du Nord and to the similarly names Paris Métro station make it easily accessible; Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport has a rail link to the Gare du Nord. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MJFenn profile imageAUTHOR

      MJFenn 

      5 years ago

      jabelufiroz: Thank-you for your comment.

    • jabelufiroz profile image

      Firoz 

      5 years ago from India

      Impressive article. Voted up.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)