Paris wasn’t built in a day” is an old adage that originated in Rome, so let’s just say it’s a Gallo-Roman quote. There is indeed a history of Paris over the centuries which merges with that of the successive construction of 7 fortified walls or enclosures:

1 – The so-called Gallo-Roman enclosure from the beginning of the 4th century on the "Île de la Cité" is the first in the Lutetia period when pagan gods like Vulcan were still worshipped, and the Seine had only two bridges. There remain only a few direct or buried remains.

Gallo-Roman enclosure with a mark on "rue de la Colombe" and remains discovered at the beginning of the 20th century

2 – The second was built, on the right bank, in the 10th or 11th century (that is to say around the year 1000 with all its superstitions!), excavations are few in number and the visible remains are even fewer.

Enclosure from the 10th, 11th century

3 – On the other hand, the enclosure of Philippe Auguste (or Philippe II: 1165;1223), completed at the beginning of the 13th century (over 5 km and 8 to 10 m high), includes several portions still visible in Paris as well as the riverside right than left bank where they are often highlighted.

Philippe Auguste enclosure with a section of the wall on "rue Clovis" and the base of one of the towers integrated into the "Mont-de-Piété" premises.

4 – In the 14th century, the so-called enclosure of Charles V (1338;1380) made it possible to circumscribe the extension of Paris on the right bank with La Bastille, while consolidating the enclosure of Philippe Auguste on the left bank.

Enclosure of Charles V the remains under the "Place du Carrousel" and the remains of the Liberty Tower of "La Bastille" discovered during underground works

5- Charles IX (1550;1574) decided to protect 16th century Paris by extending the previous enclosure with the Tuileries garden to the west and adding a moat. The yellow-colored excavated materials gave the name Yellow Fosses to this enclosure completed under Louis XIII (1601;1643).

Enclosure of the "Fossés Jaunes" yellow Fosses and a vestige of the wall visible at the "Orangerie" Museum

6- The particularity of this sixth enclosure, or more precisely grant wall, lies in the fact that it is the initiative of the powerful Farmers General, therefore for profit, to collect taxes and not for military purposes like the previous ones. It corresponds to the main boulevards around Paris with a length of approximately 24 km and given that the ground forms, in this place, a sort of basin, it crowns the crest. It was completed in 1787. This 3.3 m high enclosure gave rise to this kind of joke against “La Ferme Générale” on the initiative of Colbert :

“To increase the cash

And shorten our horizon

The Farm deemed it necessary

To put Paris in prison. »

Enclosure of the General Farmers and one of the grant barriers still visible (the Barrier d’Enfer which became Place Denfert-Rochereau, also official entrance to the catacombs)

7- Finally the seventh fortified enclosure of deputy Thiers corresponds to the boulevards which bear the name of the marshals of the empire, it is a fortification surrounding Paris for 39 km (the term boulevard is a derivative of the Dutch meaning “rampart”). Voted in 1841 and completed in 1845, it led to the annexation of what were at the time riverside communities such as Auteuil, Passy, La Villette, and others. It was very useful to Parisians in 1870. Its razing was completed in 1924.

Fortified enclosure of Thiers (remnant of Bastion 82 from 1842 in the gardens of the university "Cité Internationale") and the forts of the time surrounding Paris (stars on the map).