Discover the Odéon District
From the doorstep of the Hotel Delavigne
Just a stone’s throw from the hotel, the Odéon district is the ideal place to discover the soul of Paris. At the crossroads of Rue Montagne-Ste-Geneviève and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, this vibrant and youthful neighbourhood is marked by both its intellectual scene and its relaxing atmosphere. With bars, restaurants, cafés, concerts, cinemas and theatres, there’s plenty to do at the Odéon intersection, which is dominated by the statue of French revolutionary Danton.
From the intersection, you can access the Cour du Commerce Saint-André. This paved passageway contains the remnants of the old Wall of Philip Augustus, with boutiques and restaurants with old signs like Le Procope. Opened in 1688, it’s the oldest café in Paris, frequented by many a great figure. La Fontaine, Voltaire and writers of the “Encyclopédie” Rousseau and Beaumarchais sat at its tables, as did the likes of Marat, Danton, Robespierre and Bonaparte during the Revolution, followed later by Musset, George Sans and Verlaine.
At the other side of the hotel, the Place de l’Odéon was built in 1779 on the grounds of the Hôtel de Condé. Its houses with elegant and austere façades line the semi-circular square. At number 1 between 1779 and 1956, there was the Café Voltaire, where numerous writers would meet, including Delacroix, Musset, Vallès, Verlaine, Mallarmé, Rodin, Gide, Valéry and many others.
The major star, though, is easily the theatre, built by order of the king in 1782 for the Comédie Française. This new stage, built in the classical style of the period, was called the Théâtre-Français, and opened by Marie-Antoinette on April 9th 1782. It saw the first staging in 1784 of “The Marriage of Figaro” by Beaumarchais (the play that inspired Mozart’s opera), as well as the first English-language stagings of Shakespeare on the continent (1827).
Over the years, it became the oldest major theatre in Europe to still be active in its original location. While a place of tradition, the Odéon has never lost sight of staging new works. In the 1960s, Jean-Louis Barrault staged many works, including Beckett and Genet plays. In 1983, under the impetus of Giorgio Strehler, the Odéon became the Théâtre de l'Europe. It is directed today by Stéphane Braunschweig, who is keeping the tradition alive of it being a major hub of production, as well as a theatre of art as practised across the continent, aimed at all types of audience.