Fransız Sokağı - French Street in Istanbul
If New York has Chinatown and Little Italy, then Istanbul has "French Street" (Fransız Sokağı). "Rue Franaise", with tented buildings, street musicians, cafés, bars and art centers, opened in summer of 2004.
The street behind Galatasaray High School known as Cezayir (Algeria) Street was completely renovated from head to toe by a group lead by Mehmet Taşdiken within the scope of a two-year project. The buildings and sidewalks were improved and a special music system was established. Taşdiken had close contacts with the Municipality of Paris, so the stones of the street were arranged by Parisian architects, and 100-year-old coal-gas street lamps from the Municipality of Paris were installed.
Mehmet Taşdiken says "the French have a very important legacy in Beyoğlu. Most of the establishments of Beyoğlu, such as the first cafés and first movie theaters, were established by the French in the 19th century and the buildings on the left of Cezayir Street bear the signature of French engineer-contractor Marius Michel, who lived in Istanbul between 1890 and 1910 and built the Karaköy and Eminöndocks."
Fransız Sokağı has a covered area of 9,000 square meters and a capacity of 3000 people together with the open-air areas. The number of daily visitors is around 6.500. The heaters on the streets allow the open areas to be used even on cold days.
Various establishments in two-three story buildings have turned Fransız Sokağı, formerly Cezayir Sokak or Hayriye Cıkmazı, into a 7-day-a-week live culture and entertainment center, with cafés, restaurants, street concerts and artists, and an art gallery.