One of the most charming of those quiet streets in the 9th Arr. which runs out of the rue St Lazare east of the Place de la Trinité is the rue de La Rochefoucauld. And it commemorates a man whose life touches many of the phases of modern life, although he died in 1827. He made his country estates at Liancourt (Oise), where to-day agricultural machines are manufactured, into a model farm. Then he organized trade schools for the sons of poor soldiers, where they learned carpentering, iron-working, and the rest. He had three factories running; one for the making of carding machines, such as he had seen in England during his exile (on account of the Revolution) ; one for spinning cotton; and a third for making faience. In 1801 his products took prizes at the Exposition; and they supplied work for some three hundred persons in his vicinity.
It was La Rochefoucauld who brought back from England vaccine, until then unknown in France, and so helped diminish the ravages of smallpox. It was he who helped establish the first Savings Bank in Paris. And he headed every organization for the betterment of the people to such an extent that when he died they fought to carry his coffin; and when they were prevented, their anger was a sort of preliminary outburst of the popular revolt of 1830. The tranquillity of the street today belies that part of the story. It was the first street in Paris to have the modern name-plate to replace the name carved in stone.
Have you ever noticed that the white-lettered blue plaque which carries the street’s name often has the number of one arrondissement on one side of the street and that of another on the other side the rue des Capucines, the rue des Petits Champs for example? This is calculated to increase municipal difficulties and confusion. Clever, too!