The Street of the Fishing Cat: The Legendary World of the Narrowest Street in Paris

(Images: Tangopaso, public domain ; Autopilot, cc-sa-3.0)

Myriads of tourists walk past it every day without so much as a second glance. But what looks like nothing more than a tiny lane between two buildings is actually the narrowest street and the most improbable street name in Parisian history.

The Street of the Fishing Cat

Built in 1540, it was originally an alleyway allowing residents to go as far as the banks of the Seine at the time when no quays were yet built. With a width of 1.8 m and a total length of 29 m, La Rue du Chat qui Pêche is still the narrowest street in Paris. More than an oddly-named street, it is also the scene of a grim, century-old legend.

(Image: LPLT, cc-sa-3.0)

The story goes that in the 15th century a certain Dom Perlet, a canon engaged in alchemy, lived on this very street, accompanied by his smart hyacinth black cat. A particularly gifted fisher, catching fish with one swipe of its mighty paw, the cat went prowling by the river quite often by itself. Convinced that both the alchemist and the black cat were the impersonation of one and the same creature – the Devil! – three local students agreed to kill the unfortunate mouser and throw it into the Seine. Curiously, once the cat died, the alchemist disappeared… but only to reappear again a bit later, like a traveller coming back from a lengthy trip. As for the cat, it continued fishing peacefully by the banks of the river …

(Image: Kmlz, cc-sa-3.0)

In a contemporary street art remake of the legend (on a wall on the riverside stretch of the street), one can observe the cat perfectly geared for the new fishing season. Armed with a fishing rod and escorted by a mysterious gentleman dressed in black (probably the infamous alchemist himself?), this conspicuous duo haunts the street to this very day.

Keep reading – check out the Creepy Urban Legend of the Niagara Falls Screaming Tunnel, and learn about 5 Eerie Urban Legends of the Natural World.

 

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