28.2.11

Paris documentation

Since a couple of months I’m a "Greeters" member. This is an international organization, offering guiding on a voluntary basis. In Paris we are soon 200 guides. You can read more by clicking under “Parisien d’un jour” on my sidebar and also have a look on a previous post.

With a few other guides we were last week invited to visit the “Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris”, a public library specializing in the history of Paris. It all officially started in 1763 in the building we visited, “Hôtel de Lamoignon”. The Revolution stopped this activity here and a lot got lost. A new collection was commenced at the Paris City Hall, but was almost completely lost when the building was destroyed by fire in 1871 (the "Commune" events). One started to collect again and the material moved to different places until it in 1969 came back to a completely restored "Hôtel de Lamoignon". Today you can find some two million documents of all kinds, referring to the history of Paris and its immediate surroundings. It’s open to public during the weekdays.

The building dates from the 16th century and was originally built for Diane de France (1538-1619), an illegitimate daughter of Henri II. She had quite some influence on the “peace” between Catholics and Protestants, was much appreciated by Henri IV and took care of the education of the future Louis XIII. Her two kids died before her and the place was taken over by her nephew Charles d’Angoulème (1573-1650), also illegitimate, son of Charles IX – grandson of Catherine de’ Medici (a lot to say about him, but…).
Both Diane and Charles were buried in a small church, “Minimes” on the present Place des Vosges (see previous post), destroyed during the Revolution, but the statues decorating their graves were found – in pieces -, restored and are now to be seen in a small annex to the major building, decorated by a stained glass window where we can see the heraldic sign of the Royal family, with the “fleurs de lis”. However, as illegitimate, bastards, they had a special sign, a broken baton, which you can see in the red circle.
The building got its name from the Lamoignon family, heads of the Paris Parliament (High Court of Justice) for generations. One member was Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes (1721-94), minister under Louis XVI, who tried to introduce reforms of the autocratic regime, later defended Louis XVI during his trial and was the one who had to announce the death sentence to the King.

Later the hotel was inhabited by Alphonse Daudet (1840-97) – “Lettres de mon Moulin” (Letters from my windmill ), including “L’Arlésienne” (put into music by Bizet), “Tatarin de Tarascon”…


Immediate neighbour to "Hôtel de Lamoignon" was another large private mansion, later transformed to a prison, “La Force”. It has been destroyed, but you can still see traces of the wall separating it to Hôtel Lamoignon. Many were imprisoned, killed or brought to the guillotine from here during the Revolution. The most famous prisoner was perhaps the Princess Lamballe, one of Marie-Antoinette’s best friends, who was killed on the steps of the prison. Her head was carried on a pike in front of the Temple (see previous posts) where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned.
We had the privilege to be guided by a very qualified member of the staff, who showed us a few examples of what can be found in the library, including some illuminated and early printed books from the 15th century… and a “guest book” from the famous 19th century cabaret “Chat Noir”. Very popular until 1897 when the owner died, the cabaret moved a few times around the Montmartre – Pigalle area; the last place was on Boulevard de Clichy (building destroyed). Guests included most of those days’ artistic elite, with names like Verlaine, Debussy, Satie, Alphone Allais, Jane Avril, Yvette Guilbert, Strindberg … and Aristide Bruant, portrayed by Toulouse-Lautrec... I would have liked to spend hours with this guest book, but I guess I will have to wait until it has been digitalized.

30 comments:

Studio at the Farm said...

Peter, I am sure you know more about Paris and its history than most Parisians! Wonderful post!!

V Rakesh said...

I second the comment just above. Couldn't agree more!

Olivier said...

j'aime beaucoup la première photo, on dirait un maître d’école surveillant sa classe ;)

ALAIN said...

Peter, le plus parisien des suédois.

Thirtytwo degrees said...

Thank you for referring Pariesen d'un jour to us, and for giving us a chance to see your previous blog also. I like your format, and your photographs are beautiful. I am wondering since you are from Sweden how many blogs you have used about Axel Fersen. I only recently discovered your blogs so forgive my asking but I would like to know. Merci.

caterpillar said...

I was wondering....how do you manage to get all this information? It's truly amazing...

Cezar and Léia said...

Bonjour Peter,
This is a place that I need to visit some day, so interesting and your pictures are wonderful.
I love the gate with the angels as detail, it's beautiful.
How lucky you are to have a good guide there, that book is a treasure , impressive pictures!
And, thanks for sharing.
Léia :)

Synne said...

What a beautiful building, and the library looks delightful. Old books and documents never seize to interest me. The "guide guild" sounds like a very good idea!

Kate said...

Peter, you will be a PERFECT greeter. You have been doing that for a long time already for the many bloggers whom you meet and greet! Love your comments on my apple blog today about the 4th and 14th holidays

Harriet said...

I wouldn't like to take French history exams --- how do they remember all of this! Very interesting post.

Simony said...

Peter, you give us a lot of interesting information! I am sure you must be a great guide for the tourists coming to Paris!

Me said...

Excellent

Virginia said...

We are all certain that you are the Number One most requested guide! I'm enjoying Bizet as I read your post. And Meeps appreciates the chat noir tributes to her as well!
V

Starman said...

Love the Bizet music video.

lasiate said...

Félicitations, Monsieur le greeter! tu le mérites bien car tu dois être un des meilleurs connaisseurs de Paris

Owen said...

Well, now we will know where to find you on rainy afternoons in the winter... enriching your alreaday rich knowledge of Paris in the historical library. Years of happy reading ahead of you, I can tell.

Just did a small post with you in mind, and with one of your photos, for which I again extend warmest thanks !

ParisBreakfasts said...

WOW!
Very impressive Peter.
You will make the perfect greeter.
That book looks delicious.
I never know what I will find here when I visit - full of lovely surprises.

claude said...

Je n'ai pu arrivé sur ton blog en français hier, je ne sais pas pourquoi. Je viens de prendre un sacré cours d'histoire. ALIAN a raison, tu es vraiment un Suédois plus Parisien qu'un Parisien, jusqu'à en devenir guide. !

joanny said...

Peter:

some of my favorite things are on this post, will come back later and spend more time,,, Yes I remember when you said you were selected as a "Greeter" member. It is to France's credit they selected you.

joanny

Cheryl said...

A special sign to indicate illegitimacy?!! Amazing.

But I'm not surprised to read you are now a "Greeter." That must be fun!

I would have loved to look through that guest book too. Not to mention that sketchbook!! Was it Lautrec's?

cath said...

what a wonderful post about Paris...I love Lautrec an would have loved to lay eyes on the sketchbook!

hpy said...

J'ai donné ton email à la fille de JJS.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

How brilliant that you are a "greeter".. People must have an amazing time with you .. exploring the backs of Paris :-)

Cergie said...

C'est déjà un honneur d'avoir pu toucher des yeux ce si fragile livre d'or (tu l'as aussi touché des mains ?)
Une bibli avec un plafond qui me fait penser à celui de la salle des gardes du château de la Roche Gyuon : superbe !
(Es tu un guide de Paris légitime ?)

Jack said...

Peter, you are a perfect person to be a Greeter. Next time I go to Paris, I plan to track you down! Today's post is very interesting.

Vagabonde said...

Well Peter I read all your tremendous posts about le cimetière de Montmartre – what great posts those are, full of information, history, photos, videos – just a joy. Looking at the list of old movies made me think back to my youth – “les 400 coups” et “Jules et Jim.” I had bought the 45 tours record of Le Tourbillon the song that Jeanne Moreau sang in that movie, and I used to know the lyrics by heart:

On s'est connus, on s'est reconnus,
On s'est perdus de vue, on s'est r'perdus d'vue
On s'est retrouvés, on s'est réchauffés
Puis on s'est séparés…

How fun it is to come and look at your posts but it always makes me feel homesick. Today I was looking at flights for Paris and they are so expensive. When I used to go to Paris and see my mother twice a year I thought that it would have been easier if I had been brought up in a small village and traveled there because to have Paris as a hometown is not easy – people don’t realize that you want to go there for family not to be a tourist. A Travel site today here said not to fly to Paris but Budapest instead – well it’s like saying don’t fly to Los Angeles to see you family, fly to Mexico City instead or Ottawa ! Thanks for visiting my blog while I was away.

claude said...

Mon ordi rame dur pour aller sur ton Paris et je remarque qu'il est plus radpide en français qu'en anglais. Tu peux aller chez Delophe, j'explique où est l'Oust !

delphinium said...

Le mien aussi rame dur, je ne sais pas pourquoi, trop de photos?
C'est marrant, l'affiche avec le chat noir, et bien elle est aussi dans le bureau d'une de mes collègues. :-)

Nathalie said...

Etre bénévole c'est formidable, et c'est encore plus formidable que vous soyez récompensés par des visites comme celles-là. Ca devait être assez extraordinaire si j'en juge par tes photos. Est-ce un lieu public où vous pourrez emmener vos visiteurs après, ou est-ce réservé aux personnes accréditées ?

Trotter said...

Wow! So now you're definitely going to see everything we would love to but aren't allowed into... ;)