For International Women’s Day, we offer you to discover Paris in the footsteps of incredible women who changed our lives: right to abortion, right to vote, first woman to be a teacher… Thanks to them, the French are slowly getting close to gender equality. From Simone Veil to Simone de Beauvoir, let us discover the city from a historical point of view.
By foot, allow about two hours to see all locations tinted with History and feminism, along the most beautiful districts of the French capital city.
French magistrate and stateswoman, Simone Veil was Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s Health Minister in 1974, entrusted with passing the law to making voluntary termination of pregnancy legal. After a rough fight to pass the bill, called the “Veil law”, at the National Assembly and the Senate, she appeared as the first feminist icon fighting for women’s rights. First president of the European Parliament, she has been also elected in 2008 at the Académie Française. After she passed in June 2017, Simone Veil entered the Panthéon, becoming one of the rare women to rest there.
Metro: Assemblée nationale
Writer Simone de Beauvoir spent a lot of time at the Café de Flore, so did her friend/lover Jean-Paul Sartre. The place then became a genuine headquarters for many writers in the 20th century. She took part in the movement to empower women, especially thanks to her work “The Second Sex” and acts as a theoretician of the feminist movement.
Journalist and woman of letters, Colette was the second woman to be elected at the Académie Goncourt in 1945. Highly committed with women’s freedom, she considered herself bisexual and wrote a lot on that matter. Colette enjoyed the Palais-Royal neighborhood a lot, as she described it as a “small province in Paris”, and this is where she finished her life. A square is named after her, as demanded by her daughter. She was the first woman in France to be granted a state funeral.
Genuine fashion popess, Coco Chanel opened her first store in 1910 in Paris. Now, the brand is praised all around the world, but at her time, female fashion was far less modern than what she proposed in her collections. She stood for the liberation of the woman’s body, with a more relaxed style, soft shapes and comfortable fabrics. At 31 rue Cambon, one can still find the designer’s condo and one of the stores of the famous brand. Many haute-couture shows are held in the lounges on the 1st floor.
Louise Michel is one of the Commune of Paris symbols, a very violent event she took part in brilliantly. Anarchist, she fought for women’s rights and was one of the first to be willing to fight alongside men, and not to stay behind and attend to the wounded. At the end of the Commune, Louise Michel is condemned to the labor camp in New Caledonia, from where she wrote to Georges Clemenceau. She is one of the leading figures of the democracy in France.
Feminist, Olympe de Gouges was in the 18th century a groundbreaking woman, behind controversial political essays about women’s conditions. She wrote about twenty political plays and is famous for writing the declaration of women’s rights from 1791, at 18 rue Servandoni, in Paris 6th arrondissement.
Aurore Dupin is better known as George Sand, her author’s name. The writer has had to choose a male-sounding name after suffering from discrimination in the 19th century Paris literary circle. Enjoying a strong character and androgyn dressing style, she has never been entirely acknowledged by her peers. And yet, she marked posterity with many novels, tales and plays. She was against marriage and fought against prejudice and conservative society, she contributed to change since many women took over after her. Some of her work is permanently displayed at the Musée de la Vie Romantique in Paris.
First woman to teach students, Marie Curie was a famous physicist and chemist who carried out fruitful researches on radioactivity. The latter granted her a Nobel Prize in 1903 in Physics and in Chemistry in 1911. With her husband Pierre curie, she discovers two new elements: radium and polonium. The Université de Paris and the Institut Pasteur created for her the Laboratoire Curie. Like Simone Veil, she is one of the rare women to rest at the Panthéon. The Musée Curie, set nearby, enables to discover the story of radioactivity and sciences.
So, are you ready to walk in the footsteps of those who helped to changed our lives?
Dates and Opening Time
Starts 8 March 2022