Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Streets and Places of Old Paris

Whenever possible I try to use the actual streets and locations of 17th century Paris in my Honor+Intrigue campaign. To help me do that I use an assortment of maps ranging from the late 16th century through pre-Revolutionary France. One thing I've found is that names are changeable. Spelling in the 17th century has not yet been standardized so the same name may appear on different maps or in different texts (old or modern) spelled with a "y" or an "i" and even odder changes in spelling may occur. One example is Arnouville which is the name of a village and a chateau outside of Paris as well as the title name of the noble who is the lord of that manor. Two alternate spellings are Ermenouville and Ernouville both of which are used to label a 1761 map of the area around old Paris. Similar variants occur for all sorts of names and locations. It makes tracing things a bit tricky on the one hand, but on the other it means there is little reason to get too worried about the occasional minor spelling error made by GM or player. 

Most Paris maps from the period include street names, but they are written in script and variant spellings and sometimes low resolution can make puzzling out the map maker's spelling challenging. And once one succeeds, trying to match up that street to its modern equivalent which may have an entirely different name can be equally challenging. Here a two resources that I have found useful as well as a bonus Wiki category. 

Streets and Places of Old Paris

This list of Paris streets is a good place to start. Although it lists the modern streets, the listings describe the history of the street including medieval and early modern names which makes it a useful resource for correlating then and now.

A French site: Ancient names of Paris Streets the list is in alphabetical order and lists the present day Paris arrondisement or numbered section of the city.

Another French site for picturesque streets and locations of Paris. Some of the listings contain quite a bit of useful detail.

This Wikipedia site that has a list of French Hospitals. Its not an ancient site, but still very useful in tracking down period hospitals. The 17th century saw the construction of several famous French hospitals. Wikipedia has all sorts of categories that are useful for period research.


  1. There is some 17th century English quote to the effect of 'it would be a very dull man who only spelled words one way' not a sentiment upheld by most 21st century governments

  2. As a reader, I'm fond of standardized spelling. It makes reading easier and faster. But it is interesting that standardization in many (probably most) European languages is a fairly recent innovation.