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Visiting rue Baron and rue Lantiez, Paris: remembrance of a young French patriot and looming views of the Eiffel Tower
A 17 year old executed by fascists
An interesting feature of a number of parallel steets in Paris's 17th arrondissement in the Epinettes neighbourhood is their approximate north-south alignment, giving looming views of the Eiffel Tower: a brooding presence in the city since 1889. Streets where this alignment makes such views possible include rue Baron, rue Lantiez (see photo, right) and rue des Epinettes.
Dating from 1889, the Eiffel Tower has long become somewhat of a symbol of the French Republic itself. In a somewhat solemn way, however, because of a former resident, one of these streets almost in the shadow of the famed Eiffel Tower, rue Baron, has been associated with events which represented the stark negation of French Republican values. At No. 34, rue Baron, a plaque marks the residence between 1936 and 1939 of Guy Môquet (1924-1941), executed in World War Two by Nazi German invaders, by way of reprisal for the killing of two Germans, Guy Moquet was not the only French person killed during these cruel acts of reprisal: dozens more people suffered the same fate, but the fact that Guy Môquet was only 17 years of age at the time of his execution gave these events a deeper sense of grim memorability.
The plaque at No. 34 rue Baron reads (1):
To the Young National Hero GUY MôQUET
THE LOCAL LIBERATION COMMITTEE OF THE 17th ARRONDISSEMENT.
A local Metro station has also been named in honour of this young patriot.
Before his death, this young man wrote words of patriotic sentiment which are now required reading by French schoolchildren.
January 11, 2014
(1) My translation; the plaque refers to one of many Liberation committees which arose towards the end of the occupation of France, and which were subsequently responsible for commemoration of historic events and personalities associated with this dark period of French history. Interestingly, travellers in the Republic of Ireland will recall similar Republican Commemoration Committees which have been responsible for many acts of remembrance which recall Irish people who fell in pursuit of the Irish Republican cause: the similarities and differences between these causes and their commoration would make an interesting and even — to some people — controversial study. Today in France, Gaullists and Communists alike commemorate patriots of the French Liberation; visiting Ireland, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain has attended Irish Republican commemoration in Dublin and, likewise, Irish Republican representatives from Sinn Féin have attended Royal British Legion commemorations. Such commemorative events, challenged for a variety of reasons by some people, evidently command the possibility of bridging sometimes very profound political differences.
Also worth seeing
A few of the hugely diverse visitor attractions of Paris include, in the immediate locality, Square des Epinettes with a number of interesting statues; further afield are: the Paris Opera (situated quite close to Saint-Lazare Station), the Eiffel Tower; Sacré-Cœur church on Montmartre, the French National Assembly in the Bourbon Palace; place de la Concorde ; the Madeleine church; the Arc de Triomphe ; 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 excellent public transport system. The nearest Métro station to Rue Baron and the Epinettes district are served by Guy Môquet Metro station. 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.