THE IMAGE. The Cité Napoléon: from the first working-class city of Paris to bourgeois apartments

The Cité Napoléon was built in Paris between 1849 and 1851. (© theobrdn / Instragram)

The Napoleon city is earned. Hidden behind a banal facade, the first working-class city from Paris resists time. Under a skylight, its happy owners enjoy a place out of time, preserved from the passage of onlookers.

A skylight

Despite its indisputable photogenic character, the small city of Napoleon enjoys a discreet reputation unlike the rue Crémieu, which has become an Instagram user’s paradise for better or for worse.

Hidden behind an unoriginal facade, the city was built at the request of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte between 1849 and 1851. It consists of four buildings in the center of which is a courtyard.

But the prettiest part is along rue Marguerite-de-Rochechouart. It does not include a garden but is sheltered by a glass roof under which four landings are suffused with light.

The whole of the Napoleon city was classified as a historical monument in 2003.
The whole of the Napoleon city was classified as a historical monument in 2003. (©Creative common /

An urban phalanstery, today at 12,000 euros per m²

luck of phalanstère, a utopian community living space carried by Charles Fourier and bringing together workers, the Cité Napoléon has been listed as a historical monument since 2003. A plaque located nearby recalls the essence of this “well-ventilated” complex which “was intended for to house the workers of the very near new gas plant ”. At the time, the houses were rented from 60 to 180 francs.

Inspired by hygienic theories of the time, the common areas were equipped with a washhouse and a water point with toilets at each end of the landings. A kind of crèche was made available to families as well as free visits from a doctor. A real step forward for its some 250 tenants. It was to serve as a model for other cities in the capital but was the only one.

The city of Napoleon did not meet with the expected success, perhaps because of the rigor that reigned there – a 10 p.m. curfew was imposed on its inhabitants, placed under the supervision of a guard -.

Today, apartments are much less accessible to workers and are much more successful. Count 342,000 euros for a 28 m² or 170,000 euros for a 17 m². It is even possible to rent one of its authentic apartments for the duration of a shoot.

To try your luck, and have a curious eye, here is the address of this historic city: 58-60 rue Rochechouart.

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