Avenue des Gobelins, Paris 13
This avenue really is Old Paris, running from the south of the Bièvre river to the old Rue Mouffetard, which was formerly a section of the Roman road linking Lutetia (Roman Paris) to Italy long ago. Just 150 m from the hotel, the Avenue des Gobelins is today a shopping street linking the Place d’Italie with the Latin Quarter. Lined with trees and cafés, it’s perfect for casual walkers and cinephiles alike. With its numerous cinemas and its world-famous tapestry works, the Avenue des Gobelins is a lively place worth a visit.
The story of the Gobelins begins in the 15th century. Jehan Gobelin, originally from Reims, started a dye workshop on the banks of the River Bièvre. His work soon became well known in Faubourg Saint-Marcel, notably thanks to the success of his red dye - Venetian scarlet. In 1602, Henry IV of France had tapestry makers set up shop in the buildings rented by Gobelin’s descendants. They were led by two Flemish men, Marc de Comans and François de la Planche. In 1662, Colbert (minister to Louis XIV) bought the buildings and decided to create the “Manufacture Royale des meubles et des tapisseries de la Couronne” (Royal Factory for Furniture and Tapestries of the Crown), where not only tapestry makers set up shop but also painters, engravers and countless other craftsmen.
From the 18th century to our time, weaving still goes on at the Manufacture des Gobelins, following the traditions of this ancient institution. Even today, the factory still weaves tapestries for public buildings in France. Located at 24 Avenue des Gobelins, you can visit it every day in its exhibition period except Monday (free entry on the last Sunday of each month).