Monday, 12 November 2007

The house of Nicolas Flamel, the Paris' oldest house
known as "le Grand Pignon" 75003 Paris

Ever heard of Nicolas Flamel ? No doubt you shall have if you're one of the numerous Harry potter's zealots ! If you are a careful reader of the adventures of Harry Potter, you have already most certainly seen his name ! In the novel, Flamel is supposed to be one of Dumbledore's best friend and is still living today thanks to the famous philosopher stone. Pure invention ?

Not quite as Nicolas Flamel did existed and he is regarded as one of the great alchemists of his time.

Nicolas Flamel was a wealthy Parisian bourgeois. It is not known where his income revenue came from. Many believe that his official job as jury-writer for the University isn't not quite enough to explain his wealth. He is believed to have practiced usury, real estate speculation or worse... managed the property of the many Jews expelled from the kingdom... anonymously.

What is almost certain, however, is that Nicolas Flamel, assisted by his wife Pernelle, welcomed and cared for the sick. We can still read the inscription urging the poor to come to them: "Nous homes et femes laboureurs demourans ou porche de ceste maison (Ye men & women leaving in this house) qui fut faite en l'an de grâce mil quatre cens et sept (builted in the year of grace 1407) somes tenus chascun en droit soy dire tous les jours une paternostre et un ave maria ( are obliged to say every day a pater noster and an ave Maria) en priant Dieu que sa grâce face pardon aus povres pescheurs trespasses Amen" (praying god his grace to forgive the poor sinners passing here Amen).

This devout foundation, contained a gable wall, which has since disappeared. The first two floors remain, and retain their original decoration: the famous Gothic inscription mentioned above, as well as the pillars of the basement and beaded decorations of angels and columns. On the second and fifth pillar is carved the initials N and F in tribute to the founder of the place. This decoration appears to be the work of a cemetery stone worker from the nearby St. Nicholas des Champs.

The house known as "le Grand Pignon" is located 51, rue de Montmorency and offers a double interest as it was on the one hand the place of residence of one of the most famous and most mysterious of Parisians, and it is also the oldest house in Paris: it dates from 1407.

House of Nicolas Flamel
51, rue de Montmorency
75003 Paris
Opened: all year
Hours: Monday to Friday, Noon-02:30pm and 008:00pm-11:30pm
Price: it depends on your meal
On the web:


Monday, 5 November 2007

La Promenade Plantée (coulée verte)
atop the Viaduc des arts - 75012 Paris

If you visited Paris some 35 years ago, instead the Bastille Opera you would have found the Bastille railway station. The station is now gone but the tracks remained, unused for decades, making a wild and green scar in the heart of the 11th & 12th borrough. A few years back, it was decided to renovate the neighbourhood and to replace the railway tracks atop the Viaduc des Arts by a promenade planted with roses, shrubs and rosemary (la coulée verte / the green flow). It continues at ground level through the Jardin de Reuilly and the Jardin Charles Péguy on to the Bois de Vincennes in the east.

It's a lovely walk in spring and summer (but remember autumn in Paris is not bad either) and if you're tired of just walking around you could step down and explore the arty shops and ateliers (71 boutiques all together) and cafés "under the arches" of the "Viaduc des Arts".
I will soon make a "must be seen" shop listing for this area very soon.

La Promenade Plantée
Avenue Daumesnil
75012 Paris
Mº Ledru Rollin, Bastille (by the rue de Lyon) or Gare de Lyon.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Gallerie C.T. Loo & Cie
an astounding Art gallerie - Museum, settled in a mandarin pagoda

In the heart of the Monceau plain, next to traditionnal Haussmanian buildings, stands an amazing mandarin pagoda.
It was builted in 1926 by the french architect Fernand Bloch for the chinese antics dealer Ching-Tsai Loo.
Ching Tsai Loo was the preeminent dealer of Chinese art and artifacts for the first half of the twentieth century. Starting his business in Paris, Loo was almost single-handedly responsible for introducing early Chinese art—bronzes, jades, paintings—to Western Europe and North America. Because of his connections in Asia, he was able to obtain major pieces for such collectors as J. P. Morgan, Samuel Peters, Alfred Pillsbury, and Henry Clay Frick from eras never before represented in the West.
Built over an ancient Louis-Philippe townhouse, the gallerie C.T. Loo & Cie remains up to date the oldest asian art gallerie in Paris , and the only genuine chinese house in the capital. With its 600m² and its six levels, it offers a unic architectural framework with an internal decors astoundingly refined: an original moon door, 16th and 17th century lacquered woodworks, an art deco glass ceiling, a superb 18th and 19th century sculpted wood galleria, a lacquered and wood elevator... and a delightfull zen atmosphere, where time seemed to have left its fingerprints...

In this unique setting, you'll meet numerous private french and foreigners (notably americans), collectors, families but also designers interested by the contemporary chinese lacquered furniture this company is producing. Take your pick... a 19th century oakwood bench (1.500€), a superb 18th century silk painting representing court ladies for 5.500€, Han and Wei period archeological ancient terracotas or a two piece set of chinese mahogany Hongmou armchairs fro 18.000€. Smaller budget collectors will also find interesting pieces like those 18th and 19th century chines prints for a mere 120 to 180€ à piece or lacquered egg shell vases for 100€.

n.b. you can rent out some of the gallerie rooms for a reception, a party , a press conference or even a fashion show...

Gallerie C.T. Loo & Cie
48, rue de Courcelles
75008 Paris
metro : Courcelles, Saint-Philippe du Roule, Montceau
Tel : 01 45 62 53 15
contact: email

Open without appointment on thursday and saturday from 02:00pm to 06:oopm
All other days by appointment only.


picture © Structurae/Jacques Mossot

Sainte-Rita church
Animals Blessing at The Sainte Rita Church

Saint Francis of Assisi is known as the patron saint of animals, birds, and the environment, and it is customary for Catholic churches to hold ceremonies honoring animals around his feast day.

Once every year Reverend DOMINIQUE PHILIPPE, one of Paris most famous Bishops celebrates for Saint Francis of Assisi's feast day an annual Blessing of the Animals Service at the Sainte Rita Church of Paris. Hundreds of people come from all parts of the region and other parts of France (if not further!), bring their animals and pets to be Christened and to receive Reverend Philippe's blessing. Each and every one of the animals receives a personal blessing to guarantee ‘the divine protection’ which makes the faithful owner feels a little more joyful.

At this occasion the church becomes a true Noah's ark and you'll be surprised by the silence all those animals respects during the ceremony.
If you're in the neighbourood on the first Sunday of November (this year it's on the 5th), pay the Sainte-Rita church a visit you won't regret it...

Sunday, November 4th @ 03:30pm Animals Blessing Service
Sainte Rita Gallican Church27, rue Francois-Bonvin
75015 Paris
Tel: 01 47 34 21
Open everyday but Tuesdays from 09:00am to 12:30 noon and from 03:00pm to 07:00pm
sundays from 08:30 to 01:00pm and 03:30pm to 07:00pm

Metro : Sèvres-Lecourbe or Volontaires