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Visiting the Allées Jean-Jaurès, Toulouse, France: Two Centuries of Tree-Lined Continuity and Régime Change

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Allées Lafayette (aujourd'hui Allées Jean-Jaurès) à Toulouse (Haute-Garonne, France).

Allées Lafayette (aujourd'hui Allées Jean-Jaurès) à Toulouse (Haute-Garonne, France).

Allées Jean Jaurès and Médiathèque José Cabanis in Toulouse.

Allées Jean Jaurès and Médiathèque José Cabanis in Toulouse.

Monarchy, Empire and Republic under the spotlight

The Allées Jean-Jaurès (1) are situated between Place Wilson and Avenue de la Gare, Toulouse. Its trees include many plane specimens of plane (French: platanes). The Avenue extends over 500 metres. In recent times there have been proposals to widen pedestrian access by restricting vehicular parking at its borders (2).

In some countries, every time there is a revolution or a régime change, some of the street names change in major cities. Sometimes this process of street name change occurs with bewildering frequency.

In Toulouse, in southwest France's Haute-Garonne department, what is now Allées Jean-Jaurès (named for the prominent Socialist leader assassinated in 1914) was originally Allée Villeneuve, in the closing years of the Empire of Napoleon I.

In 1815, the avenue became Allée Angoulême, named for the the Duchess of Angoulême, elder daughter of executed former King Louis XVI, who visited the city.

In 1824, with accession of Charles X, the avenue was renamed Allée Lafayette, for the Marquis de Lafayette, whom Americans remember as a significant friend of the American Revolution.

In 1852, the avenue was renamed Allée Louis-Napoléon.

After the demise of Emperor Louis-Napoléon in 1870, the avenue was renamed again.

But this time the name reverted to its previous one: Allée Lafayette.

With the assassination of Jean Jaurès (1859-1914)(3) on the eve of World War One, the City authorities of Toulouse (4) decided in 1915 to change the name yet again, to honour this rallying symbol of the Republic.

Since then, the name has stuck (somewhat oddly, even? given the frequency of its name changes during the avenue's first century of existence).

But perhaps the fact that it has not changed again is a tribute to French people's enduring commitment to their Republic.

May 4, 2019

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(1) Originally in the singular — Allée — but now usually rendered in the plural — Allées —, the word in either the singular or plural may usually be translated 'Avenue' in English.

(2) See also (in French):

(3) A socialist leader and parliamentarian, and founder of the newspaper L'Humanité, and having written as a young journalist for the Toulouse newspaper La Dépêche du Midi, Jean Jaurès's historical significance is reckoned to extend to beyond the partisan. He identified strongly with the defence of Alfred Dreyfus (the French officer from a Jewish background who was framed, but eventually exonerated, for spying), and for the cause of peaceful coexistence in Europe, Jean Jaurès's name has come to be synonymous with the cause of the French Republic itself. As a tribute to Jean-Jaurès's ideals, his remains were re-interred in the Panthéon, Paris, in 1924.

(4) Today, one of Toulouse's universities is named Université Toulouse-Jean-Jaurès.

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Jean Jaurès as a young deputy. Photographed by André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri, between 1885 and 1889.

Jean Jaurès as a young deputy. Photographed by André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri, between 1885 and 1889.

Also worth seeing

In Toulouse itself, the city's many attractions for visitors include the Capitole, housing the City Hall and the imposing Saint-Sernin Basilica.

Cahors (distance: 113 kilometres) has some impressive, Medieval architecture, including the 14th century Valentré bridge and the Cathedral.


How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle), where car rental is available; there are also domestic air services between Paris and Toulouse-Blagnac airport (Aéroport de Toulouse - Blagnac ), where car rental is also available. The French railroad company SNCF maintains services from Paris to Toulouse (Paris-Toulouse: distance: 677 kilometres). Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, you are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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