Rue de la Gaîté

The fresco in this photo (above) is at the north end of the Rue de la Gaîté, at the corner of Boulevard Edgar Quinet, where a popular ice cream shop attracts long lines of customers.

La Comédie Italienne on Rue de la Gaîté

As the name implies, the Rue de la Gaîté has always been a place of merriment and entertainment. In the eighteenth century the street was already lined with cabarets, ballrooms, theaters, restaurants and bordellos. Until 1860 the Rue de la Gaîté was just outside the city limits of Paris, which meant that the city tax on alcohol did not apply.

More small theaters on or near the Rue de la Gaîté

Théâtre Montparnasse, the largest theatre on Rue de la Gaîté

To this day there are five theatres on this short street (not cinemas, but real theatres with nightly live performances), and more nearby. And there are numerous restaurants and cafés which are always lively and crowded in the evenings (except during Corona lockdowns).

The only establishments that do not seem to be thriving are the sex shops, which were popular in the twentieth century but have trouble competing with internet pornography in the twenty-first.

My photos in this post are from 2013. I revised the text in 2021.

See also: Théâtre Montparnasse.

7 thoughts on “Rue de la Gaîté”

  1. I think it is so great that they are doing the Oscar Wilde play – translating the English name Ernest as though it wasn’t a name. It took me awhile to figure out why it wasn’t L’importance d’etre Ernest.

    1. The pun on the name Ernest works fine in English but not in French, so there have been different translations. I have a paperback edition in French with the title “L’Importance d’être constant”.

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