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  • Eye Prefer Paris is an ex-New Yorker's insider's guide to Paris. Richard Nahem writes his blog from his fabulous 18th century apartment in the fashionable Marais district of Paris

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May 10, 2010



Wonderful! You can find lots of surprise walking in Paris!


My favorite courtyard so far.


Per Leonard Pitt, despite the ancient status of the street the demolition works were undertaken back in 1908, "Numbers 22 and 24 Rue Chanoinesse are some of the oldest houses on the island and date from the 16th century. In earlier times they were residences for canons of Notre Dame." (Leonard Pitt, Walks Through Lost Paris, Berkley, 2006, p. 69)The 1921 guide Historic Paris continues, "Rue Chanoinesse is still inhabited by the Cathedral canons. Its houses are all ancient. At No. 10 lived Fulbert, the uncle of the beautiful Héloïse, who braved his anger for the sake of Abelard, who lived and taught hard by. Racine is said to have lived at No. 16. The old Tour de Dagobert, which did not, however, date back quite to that monarch's time, stood at at No. 18 till 1908. Its wonderful staircase, formed of a single oak-tree, is at the Musée Cluny. Lacordaire is said to have lodged at No. 17. A curious old courtyard is at No. 20. At No. 24, vestiges of the old chapel St-Aignan (twelfth century). At 26, a passage with old pillars and paved with old tombstones." (Jetta S. Wolff, Historic Paris, John Lane, London/New York, 1921, p. 91)


More details are coming :) The 1873 Les Anciennes maisons de Paris sous Napoleon III, gives us a rare information regarding the house No. 8 on the street, which became a station for the local firefighters, "M. de Saint-Marsault, préfet de Seine-et-Oise, dispose du 8, qui d'ancien hôtel de chanoine est devenu le siége de l'état major des pompiers." (Les Anciennes maisons de Paris sous Napoleon III, Tome Quatrième, Paris/Brussels, 1871, p. 592) An entire chapter is dedicated to rue Chanoinesse in this book. In 1890 Société Municipale de Secours Mutuels: Compte Rendu de l'année 1889 we find an Elloy family, consisting of four people, that is Madame, Ferdinand, Mademoiselle and Marthe, who resided at "Richard's" No. 12. (Société Municipale de Secours Mutuels: Compte Rendu de l'année 1889, Paris, rue Berger 20. p. 74)
And finally, in 1937 Karl Baedeker's Paris and Environs, we find a proof that Richard was almost precise in his estimate, "12 rue Chanoinesse is a 17th cent. mansion". Voila :)


Wait, the house got a name, it is not just a No. 12. In 1976 book Paris aux cent villages by Marcel Banassat (P.C.V. éditions, Paris) we find that "L'Hôtel du Grand-Chantre, imposante demeure du 12 rue Chanoinesse qu'avait habité l'oncle du poète, l'archidiacre Louis du Bellay, avait donné son nom à l'impasse actuelle qui aboutissait", i.e. the narrow lane, rue des Chantres. The poet mentioned is Joachim du Bellay (c. 1522-1560), per Encyclopedia Britannica, a member of Pléiade and a friend of Pierre de Ronsard. The poet himself died in the house right across the street, at 5, rue Chanoinesse, on the corner of rue Masillon (taken up by a modern building now). There is a memorial plaque on the building, dedicated to the poet. Joachim du Bellay "had at one time been a canon of Notre Dame of Paris" (The Encyclopedia Britannica. 11th edition, Volume VIII, New York, 1910. p. 617), thus the location of his residence makes sense.
Considering the above, the information given in 1937 Karl Baedeker's Paris and Environs is incorrect and the house is indeed of 16th century.


WOW're a wealth of information. Richard the camera is doing a GREAT job...

Claudia B.

WHAT FABULOUS INFORMATION! What I would give to live in that house...or any on the Ile de la Cite! Great work, Richard, and terrific work by your friend, Yurly. I would love to have the Napoleanic reference books in my private library at home. Thanks for bringing such wonderful new and interesting info to my brain. xo


this is breathtaking!

Brad Stevens

Here's something that might interest you. I just picked up a copy of Claude Houghton's HUDSON REJOINS THE HERD (which Henry Miller raves about in THE BOOKS IN MY LIFE), an edition published by The Albatross Library in 1947. Inside the book is a card with the following message: "Dear Reader, If I have not yet chosen that special book you want me to publish, would you care to select it yourself? A free copy is sent of every book published at a reader's suggestion to whoever proposed it first. On receipt of your card you will be informed if the book in question has been suggested already and if not it will be read at once. Hoping yours will be the first suggestion, I remain, Yours sincerely The Albatross." The return address printed on the card is:

The Albatross
12, rue Chanoinesse

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