…the street of the fishing cat…
Paris is a late sleeper. When most other people are beginning to start their day, she is just getting ready to go to bed. This is the Rue du Chat-qui-Pêche, which has the distinction of being considered the narrowest street in Paris. It is only 1.80m (a little under 5 feet, 11 inches) wide for the whole of its 29m (about 95 feet) length. Located in the Quartier Latin in the 5th arrondissement, it is situated on the Rive Gauche of the Seine. It runs between the Quai Saint-Michel and the Rue de la Huchette, which is from where this view was taken. Built in 1540, it was originally an alleyway that allowed residents walk down to the banks of the Seine when none of the quays were yet built. At that time the only access to the river was through a stairway leading down to the water.
Translated into English the name means “Street of the Fishing Cat”. It was apparently named after the picture on a nearby shop. There is even some speculation that there is some confusion with another word with a similar spelling, pécher, which would translate then as the sinning cat. Like many Paris streets, it had several earlier names. The original name was Rue des Étuves (Street of the Ovens), and at various times it was also known as Rue du Renard (Street of the Fox) and Rue des Bouticles (Street of the Boutiques).
There is even an interesting legend to go along with this narrow alley:
The legend goes that in the fifteenth century, a canon named Dom Perlet, who also indulged in the practice of alchemy, lived on this street with a very clever black cat. This cat was a particularly gifted fisher and could catch fish from the river with one swipe of his paw. Convinced that this was a matter of black magic, three local students decided to kill the unfortunate cat and throw it in the river. They were certain that the alchemist and the black cat were an incarnation of the devil. Strangely, the alchemist disappeared once the cat was killed, only to reappear with his cat later as if he had simply gone on a journey. As for the cat, he continued fishing again peacefully at the edge of the water.
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