Before Arrondissements: the Paris Sections
At the corner of the rue du Mail and Vide-Gousset, you can still glimpse the name of the Mail section (“Son du Mail”). After being divided up into neighborhoods under the Ancien Regime, and then into districts at the beginning of the Revolution, the city of Paris was subdivided into 48 sections from 1790 to 1795: areas much smaller than the current arrondissements. These were not just electoral districts: placed under the authority of the Municipality, the sections effectively participated in governing the city. Starting in 1792, assemblies played a major role in the invention of neighborhood democracy. Seen as hotbeds of popular agitation, the sections were abolished in 1795.
Rue du Vide-Gousset, at the corner of the rue du Mail