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
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