Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Our historic street includes the oldest house in Paris!

OK, our apartment might be all designer and modern and stuff, but step out of its warm cosiness and you're straight back into old school Paris, including - just opposite our building - the oldest house in the city! It dates from 1407 and was the home of Nicolas Flamel, a writer.

Funnily enough, I got a book for Xmas called Paris Changing: Revisiting Eugene Atget's Paris, with photographer Christopher Rauschenberg following in the footsteps of Atget, a French photographer best known for documenting a fast-disappearing Paris in photos. Rauschenberg takes identical shots of the city, but 90 years on. Funnily enough, it was Berenice Abbott that brought Atget's photos to the attention of the world, and a book called New York Changing: Revisiting Berenice Abbott's New York is also available. But I digress...

This is the photo of Nicolas Flamel's house at the end of the 1990s, as seen by Rauschenberg...

Here's what the street looked liked for Atget in 1902...

And here's how it looked on the morning of 7th January 2009, 107 years later (it was bloomin' cold too!)

Frankly, things haven't changed that much down rue de Montmorency (apart from the building on the left that looked black and is now white), and I doubt that the next 90 years will see any radical relooking either.

One striking thing is that even in Atget's 'historic' time, a lot of period detail was already hidden; it is only when the building was restored recently that certain stone carvings were found. Here's what it looks like up close (plus it's a little less stark in colour):

It's currently a restaurant, which we'll be trying out before too long to tell you what it's like. First impression is that it's a bit Disneyland Paris (i.e. faked up and chintzy) but let's wait and see...

2 commentaires:

k said...

Nicolas flamel was actually the most known alchemist of his times, and even modern times. He left many books on alchemy and various mark all around Paris...to be found.

Jason Fist said...

Wikipedia says that he developed a posthumous reputation as an alchemist, and there is some doubt as to his existence at all (he may have been invented by "17th-century editors and publishers desperate to produce modern printed editions of supposedly ancient alchemical treatises.")

More on Wikipedia here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolas_Flamel