What are guard stones in Paris?


Isn’t it strange that so much art and detail are put into things we do not automatically notice? This is particularly true to a multitude of old protective objects that are still found in Paris: the chasse-roue. Known as guard stones, there are silent witnesses from the time when traffic consisted of horse-drawn vehicles. Let me teach you what are guard stones in Paris and why they were important features to the streets.

What are guard stones?

Guard stones in Paris

Guard stones, rue de Savies (20th arrt) © French Moments

This exterior architectural object was placed to prevent damage from the wheels of horse-drawn vehicles. The guard stones « blew » carriages passing too close from walls by diverting their wheels. That’s why they are called in French: chasse-roue or boute-roue. They were found on each sides of gates (often coach gates) or at street corners.

Sometimes the protective appliance was topped off with a corner-mounted protector. Two guards are better than one!

Where to find old guard stones in Paris

Paris has kept a multitude of guard stones. These objects are part of the cultural heritage of the city and are protected under specific heritage regulations. Since the arrival of the automobile, they have become less relevant. Cars are much easier to manoeuvre than were the long horse-drawn vehicles.

Guard stones in Paris

Guard stones, Place des Vosges © French Moments

The oldest guard stones in Paris are made of stone. Sometimes a metallic ring surrounded the hard stone. Most guard stones date back to the Haussmann era and display very elaborate shapes with greater attention to detail. Made of cast iron, they adopt different shapes: arch, ball, cone… horses and other creatures. Some small streets a beautiful sequence of guard stone made of stone : passage Saint-Paul (4th arrt), rue de Savies (20th arrt).

Let us know if you’ve discovered some interesting guard stones in Paris! Leave a comment below!

For more info about guard stones in Paris, check out a great post written on the Art of the chasse-roue.

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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