Baths of Chatêaudun

This old façade of the Bains de Chatêaudun, made mainly of ceramic tiles, has been lovingly preserved and renovated, although the bathhouse itself no longer exists because most people now have indoor plumbing at home, so they can bathe or shower whenever they want to without going out to the neighborhood bathhouse.

Somewhere I read that in the eighteenth century the upper classes didn’t believe in bathing, in fact they considered it positively unhealthy. I haven’t been able to find a proper history of bathing and bathhouses (suggestions welcome), but somehow in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries people started to realize that being clean was not a major health hazard, as long as you didn’t overdo it.

Bains de Chatêaudun

The Baths of Chatêaudun are, or were, in the ninth arrondissement of Paris at 66 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, at a bus stop called Carrefour de Chatêaudun, where the bus lines 40 and 72 now stop. (The 72 has always stopped here, but the 40 is a new line that was introduced in April 2019.) The baths and the bus stop are just a short walk from the corner of rue de Chatêaudun.

I used to find the name Chatêaudun rather mysterious, because it looked to me like ‘castle of one’, which didn’t seem likely. Also, I had never heard of any castle, past or present, in the 9th arrondissement.

In earlier centuries, streets in Paris were typically named after saints or battles, and since Chatêaudun did not sound like a plausible name for a saint I started researching battles and soon found one that took place on October 18, 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, at the town of Chatêaudun, some 115 km southwest of Paris.

As for the origin of the name Chatêaudun, it turns out to have been derived from two languages, Latin (castellum, meaning castle) and Gallic (dunos, also meaning castle). So essentially it means castle-castle.

My photos in this post are from 2011. I revised the text in 2021.

See more posts on the 9th arrondissement of Paris.
See also: the façade of Zaengerler et Roussel in the 20th arrondissement of Paris.

9 thoughts on “Baths of Chatêaudun”

  1. Public baths were common before home plumbing was almost universal. If you’ve seen the BBC series “The Village,” quite a bit of the action takes place in a public bath. Great places for gossip . . .

    The town of Chatêaudun SW of Paris is where, many years ago, we had our first meal outside Paris. It was our first trip to France. I spoke some Haitian Creole and Ed had taken French in high school so with our lack of langage skills we were terrified to leave the city and have to communicate. In Chatêaudun we managed to eat lunch, buy stamps and visit the bank to get some francs for the rest of our trip. It was a real thrill to do all this and we were on our way. We’ve never looked back . . . just kept returning to France and learning a little more French each time. We have a soft spot in our hearts for Chatêaudun though.

  2. I appreciate your attention to detail of such sites! I would have never noticed it while strolling the streets of Paris. The origins of the name and its façade is truly unique, and I’ll be sure to keep my eye out for it should I return to the city someday!

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