Le Passe-muraille: The Intriguing Tale of a Man Who Walked Through Walls

Le Passe-Muraille is a short story by Marcel Aymé (1902-1967) which is forever immortalized in a small square on rue Norvins in Paris. Le Passe-Muraille loosely translates as “walk through walls”. The statue in Place Marcel Aymé, which passes through the wall, represents Dutilleul, the main character of Aymé’s short story.


Le Passe-muraille

Le Passe-Muraille was easy to find by taking metro line 12 to stop Lamarck-Caulaincourt. I arrived at the top of the Montmartre neighborhood and descended the streets to Le Passe-Muraille via rue Girardon.


Metro Lamarck-Caulaincourt is at the top of the steps

Wandering past the beautiful Place Dalida, which was covered in fall leaves, I just had to stop and take photos. At 8 in the morning, I had the square to myself and it was breath-takingly peaceful.


Place Dalida with Sacre Coeur in the far distant glare of the morning sun

Untouched by the Haussmannian reorganization at the turn of the century, the quaint Montmartre streets provide much to explore. As you can see, the “corner” where Place Dalida is located is really more of a curve than a corner.


In the story of Le Passe-Muraille, the character Dutilleul, gains the ability to walk through walls during a brief power outage. He is not particularly impressed by this new found ability. As it doesn’t seem to present an immediate problem for him, he stashes the pills the doctor gave him a drawer. He basically ignores his power so when he does finally begin to take advantage of this power, it ultimately overwhelms his common sense and integrity.


Le Passe-Muraille – notice how one hand is shining brightly from tourists giving it a rub for good luck.

Later, he makes a fatal error in mistaking the prescribed pills for aspirin. The effect was devastating. Prior to taking the pills, Dutilleul literally glides through the walls as if they are air. However, after mistakenly swallowing the pills, he describes the feeling as a thickening when he attempts to pass through the wall. As the effect of the pills increases so does the thickening. There, on rue Norvins, he ceases to have the ability to pass through walls and becomes forever stuck in the wall.


The short story is an interesting read as it visits the various Montmartre streets and locales that you will explore in this very neighborhood. You can find an English translation here and the original French version here.

Le Passe-muraille, une nouvelle écrite par Marcel Aymé, est immortalisée pour tout l’éternité ici à cette Place Marcel Aymé à Paris. Comme le personnage principal Dutilleul, la statue créée par Jean Marais en 1989 passe à travers le mur.

Vous pouvez trouver Le Passe-muraille facilement si vous suivez le métro ligne 12 jusqu’à l’arrêt Lamarck-Caulaincourt et descendez les rues vers la rue Girardon.

montmartre streets

Profitez bien de belles vues!

Dans la nouvelle, Dutilleul a reçu la capacité à traverser les murs pendant une brève interruption du courant.  Cela ne l’impressionne pas ! Il essaie d’ignorer ses pouvoirs. Mais enfin, il prend les pilules que le docteur lui a données. Le médicament change progressivement sa viscosité.

En bref, il épaissit et il devient coincé dans le mur de la rue Norvins. L’histoire est amusante de lire et aussi elle est intéressante pour moi parce que plusieurs locales en Montmartre sont inclus. On peut lire cette nouvelle ici: Le Passe-muraille

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