Hôtel Gaillard

I already mentioned this remarkable building in some previous posts, see here and here. Already from the outside it’s really amazing and it certainly has some of nicest gutters you’ve ever seen (see top picture).

It’s a very large mansion (hôtel particulier) built around 1880 for a banker, Emile Gaillard (1821-1902), and it’s still referred to as Hôtel Gaillard. It may be interesting to know that he was the banker of many of France’s richest dynasties, of Victor Hugo… and that he once was one of Chopin’s best pupils – Chopin even, in 1840, when Emile was 19, dedicated one of his mazurkas to him (Mazurka in A minor, B. 140 – you can listen to it on the net) !

Emile was married, there were children… , but the vast space was obviously especially requested to make place for a fantastic art collection, mostly from previous centuries. He asked the architect, Jules Février (1842-1937) to take inspiration from the Loire Valley renaissance castles (Blois, Gien…).

After Emile’s death, the art collection was sold, but it took until after WWI before the building was acquired by the Bank of France, who after much work, opened a branch office here, closed in 2006. 

A lot of the original architecture is fortunately still there, however we must of course remember that it had become a bank during some 85 years before closing with e.g. an important bank vault surrounded by heavy walls (temporarily closed when I visited – I “stole” a photo from the net).

On one of the walls you can find some caricatures in relief, one of Gaillard, holding a purse and one of the architect, Février, holding a compass.

It took then some time for the Bank to decide what to do with this building. There were some ideas to make it into some kind of a “Dumas Centre”, the three Dumas (grand-father, father, son) are all represented on the Square in front of the hotel (as, you can see on one of the photos, is Sarah Bernhardt who lived around the corner for a couple of years. I talked about all this in the posts I referred to above.) 

Finally, the decision was taken to make the place to a “Cité de l’Economie”, dedicated to economics, moneys… and, after a few years of restoration, it opened to public mid-June this year. If you want to learn something about economics there is now plenty of information - screens all over, of all sizes… documentation… Despite my education in economics, I was personally much more interested in the building itself.  


claude said...

Déjà une belle architecture a ce château
et une bel intérieur

Anonymous said...

Hermoso articulo.
Hermosas fotos.
¡Muchas gracias!

Anonymous said...

I forgot to comment on something you wrote: that of Monsieur Gaillard being one of the best students of Chopin. Non other than the Maestro?

Here is his music in very sad times:

Same music in happier times at the ballet:

And at his most prestigious piano competition in the world: 1st prize for Argentina's Martha Argerich, my idol and the greatest pianist alive.
And Brazil's Arturo Moreira Lima, 2nd prize:


Studio at the Farm said...

What an incredible building, inside and out! So much whimsy and creativity went into its fabrication. I hope some seriously-needed new ideas in economics is inspired there.


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