Do Paris Brothels Still Exist?
Maisons closes or “closed houses”, where prostitutes offered their services, were for centuries an institution in Paris, but have been banned since the end of WWII.
Quite a few of those maisons plied their trade in the centre of town, near the great offices of the French Republic and the Catholic Church, but many more preferred the relative obscurity of calm and bourgeois side streets in what were then the “near suburbs”.
Montmartre, of course, has always had more than its fair share of the flesh trade. The building on 30, rue Lepic – in the middle of today’s busy street market, opposite the Cafe Aux Deux Moulins of Amélie fame – once housed a particularly famous gentlemen’s club.
But most of the action took place a few blocks to the south, in the bourgeois surroundings of the 9th arrondissement.
The notorious Chez Christiane, for example, catered for its mainly SM-oriented clientele in the building at 9, rue Navarine – behind, of course, the kinkiest facade in the street.
A few blocks to the west, Chez Marguerite on 50, rue St Georges, catered for customers with more orthodox tastes. It was also known to be the favourite place of Hermann Goering during the years of the German occupation when most brothels were exclusively reserved for members of the occupying forces and their French collaborators.
It was ultimately this scent of collaboration that rang the death bell for the brothel trade after the liberation of Paris. In 1946, the maisons closes were closed indeed – on the insistence of the (then still powerful) Communist Party.
Do you know of any Paris brothels in your neighbourhood?