Unexpected Paris: The City of Blood

Quick, what's the first image that comes to mind when you hear "Paris"? I'd bet it's not the Parc de la Villette, although this large park and museum complex in the north of the city is quite a place, as we learn in the next Paris Homicide mystery, The City of Bloodby Frédérique Molay. The park has an interesting history, which makes it a fine setting for... murder, of course. Here's an excerpt.

“The park is seeping with history,” Clavel rhapsodized. “La Villette—which means la petite ville, the little city—was once the site of a Gallo-Roman village. It was a fertile area where people made their living on the land. It was also the site of the Montfaucon gallows, which were built to render King Louis IX’s verdicts in the thirteenth century.”

Kriven grimaced and looked entirely focused on every word the woman was saying. Nico figured he was visualizing the dead men hanging from their ropes, their skin giving off a pestilential odor as they dangled over the pit beneath the scaffold.

“It was at La Villette that Baron Haussmann decided to create a single location for Paris’s animal markets and slaughterhouses, which Napoleon III inaugurated in 1867. La Villette became the Cité du Sang, the City of Blood.”

Cows stabbed in the forehead, calves and lambs slit across the throat, pigs bled dry before being roasted, animals hung from metal hooks and carved up—sights and smells as nauseating as those of the Montfaucon gallows. Now the images were flowing through Nico’s overactive brain.

“Even today, ‘La Villette’ is the name given to a thick and bloody cut of beef served in many Parisian restaurants.” 

These former slaughterhouses were the focus of a 1949 film by Georges Franju called The Blood of Beasts in English. It's, well, from 1949, and the faint of heart may be happy it is in black and white. Here it is.