The refrigerator’s ancestor in Paris

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Not many people know of the presence of the refrigerator’s ancestor in Paris. Find your way to the  quiet rue de Poissy in the 5th arrondissement by the River Seine to check out on this very curious oddity.


The refrigerator’s ancestor in Paris

refrigerator’s ancestor in Paris

The “Réfrigérettes” on 1, rue de Poissy, Paris © French Moments

Before the common use of electricity and the invention of refrigerators in the 1950s, Parisians used to preserve the food quality in cellars or in ventilated pantries. These little cupboards were designed with an opening and were meant to provide a certain coolness. Generally fixed on the inner courtyard façade, these réfrigérettes (as they were called in French) are now quite rare in Paris. The ones I spotted in rue de Poissy are arguably the only ones left in Paris that are fixed on the street façade (this for an unknown reason). This dual arrangement on four levels is decorated with sculptures, which makes them even more curious. 

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Today these openings give onto the toilets which were non-existent at the time of the building’s construction.

Find the exact location of 1 rue de Poissy on google map.


About rue de Poissy

The short street was known until the 19th century as rue Sartine and rue Montigny. It took its current name in 1806. The best veals that were sold at the nearby market came from the town of Poissy, West of Paris, hence the name!


Visit the Bernardins College nearby!

Bernardins Paris

The Gothic nave of the Bernardins College, 20 rue de Poissy, Paris © French Moments

You can walk a few hundred metres along rue de Poissy to reach the Bernardins College. Situated at 20 rue de Poissy, the building is one of the oldest medieval structures in Paris. It dates back to the 13th century and you should step inside to admire the Gothic nave with stunning vaults.

Do you know where to find another refrigerator’s ancestor in Paris or in your town?

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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. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French 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.

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