Odds and ends of old streets can be found in among the department stores which have demolished the quarter behind the church of St Germain-l’Auxerrois (that is St Germain who came from Auxerre). One of these is the rue de l’Arbre Sec. You need not feel too deeply the loss of this street, for the “arbre sec” (the dry tree) was the gal-lows at one of its corners, and explained its character. If you want to see the iron chain which they used to hang at the end of the street in the 17th century and perhaps ever since the time of Etienne Marcelle, who introduced iron chains you will find it on the wall of the Thermes at the Musée de Cluny.
And this street has still a house upon it which shows how the owner of it prospered because he was “candle-purveyor” to Louis XV. Another distinction of the rue de l’Arbre Sec was the shop long since demolished, in which chocolate was first sold as a beverage (and with the king’s permission) in 1669. Chocolate, they claim, was introduced into France by Spanish Jesuits. And the bride of Louis XIV, who insisted on his taking it, may have been responsible for that long illness of the king, for chocolate gave him such deadly headaches that he prohibited it after a trial; however it had got its hold upon the taste of the nobility, and, as Madame de Sévigné wrote, it “flattered” them first and poisoned them later.
You must pick your way around here for what you will find. And be sure to have your camera, for all this is doomed to disappear under the urge of the modernist architects and the needs of the “big stores.”