Rue Chaptal is one of many similar looking, mostly nice, streets in the 9th arrondissement. As a lot of the streets here, very popular among 19th century and early 20th century artists, it has much of history, partly still visible, especially behind the facades and in the small alleys leading to it.
The most well-known is perhaps what today is referred to as the Museum of the Romantics, once the home of the painter Ary Scheffer and linked to names as Ernest Renan, George Sand, Chopin, Liszt, Delacroix, Dickens… I wrote about it already on my previous blog, see here. This time I just went there for a cup of coffee in the little garden.
If you look over the wall in the alley leading to the Museum, you can see a little building, also with a lot of – more recent – history. This was for some thirty years a central point for jazz music. Charles Delauney, who was the son of painters Sonia and Robert Delauney, installed here what was named the “Hot Club de France”. It officially opened with a concert with Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt… This became a centre for everything linked to jazz music for a few decades, including during WWII (when Delauney was an active resistant). This is where jazz musicians met to form groups, find jobs… A magazine, “Jazz Hot”, was published here with famous contributors like Boris Vian. (Kenny Clark composed a famous be bop piece, named “Rue Chaptal”.) The record company “Disques Vogue” was created, featuring Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Sidney Bechet, Errol Garner… and later also pop music artists like Petula Clark, Françoise Hardy… and the magazine “Rock & Folk” was started. When all this editing activity moved to the other side of the street, the famous guitar maker Gibson moved in and the place was still visited by many other artists. (It seems that the place is for rent today?)
(By the way, in a nearby shop, I found some Gibson guitars for sale, price range $5,000 – $9,000. The shop was closed. Some musicians known for playing on Gibson guitars: Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, David Gilmour, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler, Bob Marley, Les Paul, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Frank Zappa…)
Talking about music, rue Chaptal is also the street where “SACEM”, the French professional association collecting rights to songwriters, composers, musicians… had its site until 1976. All artists came here to collect what they had earned. On the opposite side of the street from "SACEM" and the "Hot Club" was a little bar, where for decades all these people met. It was finally baptised the “Annexe” and is still there, but perhaps today with fewer famous, drinking, artists?
Talking about music, this is also where an artist like Iannis Xenakis lived and where Lucien Ginsburg, more known as Serge Gainsbourg, spent his young years, went to school...
In another little alley, you can find a theatre. This was once a little chapel, taken over by the painter Rochegrosse as a workshop, before becoming by the end of the 19th century a, for decades, very popular little theatre, “Le Grand Guignol”, known for naturalistic horror plays, but surprisingly, with a quite sophisticated public, in part. After closing this activity in the 1960’s, there were some attempts to perform some more serious plays and some of our famous actors have occasionally performed here. Today it has become the site for the “International Visual Theatre”, specializing in plays for deaf and hearing-impaired, and also offering all kinds of activities and services connected to this. It’s headed by Emanuelle Laborit.
A last visit in the street could bring you to what today is a municipal library and also a nursery. Once a private 19th century home, known as “Hôtel de Serigny”, the transformation has left very little of the original interior untouched, with the exception of a beautifully decorated salon.
Just to finish this long post, a few other photos from the street. (In a more invisible way, the street is also linked to many other 19th and early 20th century names like Maupassant, Verlaine, Max Jacob…).