The name means "street of small fields" and it's pretty descriptive as we haven't found ANY fields in the 500 yards or so of its length. (We have the Place de Valois nearby which is 53 meters by 17 meters so it qualifies as small -- but that's a block away).
This information is in part based on this official Paris street link which has even more to read if you know French.
Rue des Petits Champs is the border between the 1st and 2nd arrondissements (which is what the French call their city districts); we live on the North side which puts us in the 2nd arrondissement . Click here if you'd like to see a map of the street positioned against all of Paris or close up.
Rue des Petits Champs is 450 meters long and 12 meters or less wide; it starts at rue de la Banque (the street where the National Bank of France sits behind its pompous front gate) and ends at Opera Avenue. It was built in 1634 by orders of the king (but then just about everything was done on his orders then. Pietrina has replaced him in our house). It has been straightened and levelled over the years. In 1881 it was given its present name. In 1944, the part of rue des Petits Champs which extends across Opera near the Place Vendrome was renamed rue Danielle Casanova after a French Resistance fighter who died in 1943.
Our street just skirts the Palais Royal but technically it's on another street parallel to it about 30 feet away. On the street is the Bibliothèque Nationale. This is like the library of Congress in Washington, D.C. However, the real library is moving to a much larger building across the Seine. This building then will become an art history library for scholars.
Our street was first called "Percée à travers champs " -- whatever that means. Then it was part of the New street of the Small Fields and before that was called "street Bautru", between the streets of the Bank and Vivienne (about half of its distance). The part which lay between the avenue of the Opera and the street of Peace was called street Danielle Casanova in 1944 after the French Resistance fighter (1909-1943).
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