Hôtel Dieu

Back in Paris (I’m not the only one)! I went to the real centre of Paris, “point zero”, which is incrusted in the pavement just in front of Notre Dame. This is the point to which all distances to Paris are calculated.

The parvis, the open space, in front of the Notre Dame has something else which everybody may not notice. There are traces and plates in the pavement indicating that the place was full of buildings and tiny streets and alleys until Haussmann transformed Paris during the 19th century. (This was the case all over Paris, including around the Louvre.)

One of the buildings in front of Notre Dame was the oldest hospital in Paris, Hôtel Dieu, created in 651, known under different names (Hôpital Saint-Christophe, Hôpital Notre Dame) until it seems to have got the name Hôtel Dieu (Domus Dei, the House or Hostel of God) during the 12th century.

On the old relief plan of Paris (1739), you can see that the hospital then covered a large area, on both sides of the river, connected by the Pont au Change bridge, with hospital buildings. (The present bridge with the same name dates from the 19th century, see also my previous post.) At their peak, the old hospital buildings housed some 9.000 patients, up to six for one bed!
The old Hôtel Dieu was replaced by the present one, built 1868-1878. It covers a large area on the left side of the Notre Dame parvis, just in front of where the old one used to be.

The new one was for those days very spacious and modern and supposed to receive maximum some 800 “guests”. It’s still in very active use, today together with some other 20 hospitals inside the Paris borders.
One detail is the coloured statue. It is supposed to represent a famous surgeon from the 18th century, but the local hospital students have a habit to repaint every year. You can see some samples of different looks here.
I wish you a nice weekend!


James said...

Fantastic post about a place that i've paid little attention to. My mistake. :-(

Ruth said...

It has a very impressive interior, I had no idea. Our host in 2003 was the head of geriatrics at Hôtel Dieu, but we did not see the hospital. But we saw inside both his apartments on Ile Ste Louis. :)

Unknown said...

I'm amazed with the 1st shot! How much did you pay the pidgeon? :-) Fantastic post, Peter!

from cali said...

The "bird's eye view" shot is great and the gardens gorgeous. Another place I have yet to visit, but I'm planning to now.

Shammickite said...

The garden in your first picture is lovely, the pigeon seems to be looking at the camera and saying "I get to see this beautiful view every day, lucky me!"
Do they strip the paint off the statue every year before it's painted again? I think he's supposed to be a Smurf????

Virginia said...

Well I just want to go help those students repaint that statue! I think I was guilty of something similar at my university! Maybe my next visit .........

Karen said...

Another wonderful post. I like the juxtaposition of the pigeon and the little man down below on the bench.
That poor statue. Some of the paintings are hilarious.. what fun. I think I need a statue in my backyard. I can have friends and family paint it ech year.

Carole said...

on en apprend tous les jours. je ne savais pas que l'hôtel dieu était sur les 2 rives...
bonne journée Peter.

Olivier said...

trop bon le stroumph, surprenant dans cet endroit ;o)))

hpy said...

Les étudiants ne font que reprendre une ancienne habitude des grecs de la période classique (peindre les statues).
Tu es toujours aussi complet dans tes explications que j'oublie le début quand j'arrive à la fin... mais ce n'est pas de ta faute si je n'ai plus de mémoire!

Adam said...

Fantastic post Peter. I'm fascinated by hospitals (well, historic ones at least..) and am planning on creating a walking tour around the best examples in Paris. Any help you can offer me (and there is a lot of very valuable information here already) would be most welcome.

You have shown me that there is more to the Hotel Dieu than I thought. Is it still under the menace of closure though? For a long time there were protests and bedsheets hung out of the windows with protesting slogans written on them. I haven't noticed any of those recently.

Another small point. Isn't there also some kind of 'chambre d'hôtes' in there? I seem to remember reading once that it was possible to spend the night there and that the rooms were very reasonably priced too!

alice said...

A propos de ce que tu expliques au début au sujet de Paris avant Haussman, j'ai visité un musée dans le Marais où sont présentées des maquettes avant/après. La visite était assez rigolote car je suivais un groupe de petits banlieusards assez..." banlieue" qui n'avaient qu'une idée très vague de la géographie et encore moins de l'histoire. Leurs questions étaient ... déroutantes et le guide en aurait bien fait passer quelques uns dans le jardin!
Quant à la statue, je crois décidément que c'est une coutume assez répandue chez les carabins...!

Thérèse said...

Rudement intéressant!
Quand au personnage présenté en dernier: serait-ce le point zéro pour les extraterrestres??
Bon week-end!

Blind Fly Theater said...

You know, Peter, it was just last week that I heard (on a TV commercial for something) that Notre Dame was the "center of Paris", and it's occupied the back of my mind with curiosity... and with the start of this post, my curiosity has been satisfied! Thanks for resolving that for me...
I love the patchwork of street stones and the explanation as to the reason why (I always, always learn about the substance under the surface from Peter's Paris).
Magnificent photos and collages, as usual.
Thank you Professor Peter... I know you've previously denied it, but I think you are a retired history teacher! Ah ha! I have it right... no...
Sparkle On, Peter!

arabesque said...

yes,have to agree with sparkle... you seem to be an ex- professor teaching history...hmmm...but not in a boring way though...^-^
i didn't know that notre dame has this point zero thing... and i thought that was just the style of the pavement...^-^
i had certainly learned something again today!
a happy weekend to u 2!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

A fantastic post Peter, and I missed it, I was near Notre Dame the other day..only 3 more days left in Paris.. :-(

I have told my friends to look at your blog, to discover parts of Paris that they would not know at all, and do some discovering :-)

Shammickite said...

I wonder if Sparkle is right.....

Mo said...

Ha I will be there this weekend. Can you please ensure there is lots of sunshine

Eli said...

I have often hunted for 'point zero' after seeing a tv show in the UK that mentioned it but never found it.

Last visit I walked back over to Notre Dame from the market at St Germain de pres and that was the first time I saw the invitation to visit the interior - as long as respect for the patients and staff was shown.

As usual I didn't have time as I was rushing to meet a friend for lunch at Chartiers (and I hope next time Karen, you, me and my friend can meet there!) - I will get time to view the interior sometime

claude said...

Superbe première phptp, Un beau jardin et il semble que tu avais un pigeons comme assistant photographe !
Très intéressante l'histoire de l'Hotel Dieu. Chapeau pour les photos qui accompagne cet exposé.

lasiate said...

une belle série pour ton retour parisien.
J'ai bien aimé le fouillis de ta visite du sud de la France. Ça faisait un peu marché aux images

Bettina said...

As always great photos and informative captions. Thank you for your huge work with this blog and thank you for sharing Paris with those of us who cant' be there all the time.

Anonymous said...

Neat, as usual.

Pick a Peck of Pixels

Alain said...

Que de colonnes ! cela doit etre facile de s'y perdre! J'aime bien la statue du grand schtroumf.

PeterParis said...

Nobodody is perfect! :-)

I guesss the appartments were worth to be seen! :-)

The pidgeon is a long time friend ...free of charge! :-)

PeterParis said...

from cali:
I understand you on your way! :-)

I guess (and hope) they do! Yes, it seems to be a smurf (or a schtrumpf in French)! :-)

It's now that you admit it! :-)

PeterParis said...

A good idea! :-)

Il ne faut jamais s'arrêter d'apprendre! :-)

En effet, surprenant! :-)

PeterParis said...

Si, tu te souviens encore de tes cours d'histoire! :-)

If I can be of any help, I would be pleased to, but you mostly have such detailed info!
I haven't heard about closure.
Yes, surprisingly enough there seems to be a small hotel, 6e étage, called Hôtel Hospitel.

Tu as du t'amuser! Musée Carnavalet? !-)

PeterParis said...

Question intéressante! :-)

Thanks for these long and nice comments! ... but I must insist on denying! :-)

Happy you are not getting too bored! :-)

PeterParis said...

Soory we can't meet this time! Next time! :-)

Sparkle is wrong! :-)

Its now Sunday evening; the weather wasn't too bad, was it? Sorry we didn't meet! :-)

PeterParis said...

Looking forward to a common lunch! :-)

L'ex-parisienne apprend encore des choses! :-)

"Fouillis", c'est le mot! :-)

PeterParis said...

Sorry you can't make it soon ... so next spring then! :-)

Neat... thanks; if you say so! :-)

Il y a des flèches partout! :-)

sonia a. mascaro said...

Another great post as always, Peter! The first photo is amazing! These garden are stunning too!

Anonymous said...

Très content d'avoir trouvé ce blog. Je vis à Paris et m'emmerveille de plus en plus devant ma ville.

Pour info, au mois d'Avril, la statue avait pris la forme du Joker.


Cergie said...

Les carabins ne sont guère respectueux, mais du moins la pierre de la statue est protégée par cet enduit de façade. Le fameux surgeon on ne sait même plus qui c'est alors que le famous character tout le monde le reconnait.
(On dirait que tu as photographié les escaliers d'Escher.)

GMG said...

It's amazing the unknown spots you find in such a well known city...

PeterParis said...

Thanks! :-)

Merci! Un nom la prochaine fois? :-)

En effet! :-)

I have still to do a post about Notre Dame! :-)

Mandy said...

Those sculpted gardens are exquisite!