Time Capsules in Paris: Historical Apartments in Paris You Can Visit

Historical Apartment in Paris

Believe it or not, many of Paris most popular landmarks and tourist spots were built long before France became a republic. In fact, the Louvre was once a fortress, and later, one of the many homes of the deposed king, Louis XVI before it became what it is today: the world’s most visited museum. Some restaurants in Paris were built in the 15th century, others in the 17th and are still operating today. Le Procope, for example, is known as the city’s oldest restaurant and it first opened its doors to the public in 1686!

If you have always wanted to see how the French (or the Parisien, in particular) lived during the 16th to the early 20th century, nothing beats the idea of visiting historical mansions located across Paris.

Marthe de Florian and Her Apartment Lost in Time

Not too long ago, news came out about a stunning apartment in Paris that was left by its owner during the onset of World War II and has been untouched and undisturbed by time. In 2010, the apartment that was seemingly lost in time was re-discovered by an auditing company and was reintroduced to the world.

Among the treasures in the apartment once owned by Madame Marthe de Florian is an unknown and uncharted painting by Giovanni Boldini. Thought to be a portrait of Marthe de Florian herself, this painting was never officially listed in the list of paintings prepared by Boldini’s wife sometime in the 1890’s. It may be assumed that Mrs. Boldini herself might have never known about the painting’s existence nor of Mme de Florian’s.

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The interior of Mme de Florian’s home accurately shows the interior of most 19th century apartments. Seen here are more paintings, vases, and even, plastic flowers!

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Taxidermy pieces were commonly found throughout Mme de Florian’s apartment. It was common to have taxidermy in one’s home back in the day; in fact, having a few as home decor was a sign of affluence. Was Mme de Florian affluent? Absolutely! She was a socialite and an actress.

Mme de Florian's Apartment

Unfortunately, Marthe de Florian’s home is not open to the public and it is owned entirely by her estate (others say it was sold). Although the exact location of her apartment is unknown, it is believed to be located in the 9th district, near Quartier Pigalle. This is a common site for luxury apartments in Paris so you can always rent one nearby!

Apparently, well-preserved 19th century apartments are quite common in Paris; if you have always wanted to visit Marthe de Florian’s apartment but can’t, there are still a few alternatives within the vicinity.

The Elegant Home of Nissim de Camondo

Not to far off from the de Florian apartment is an elegant home once owned by a French banker and his family, the affluent Camondo’s. The story behind Musée Nissim de Camondo and how it came to be can be a bit heartbreaking: the museum which you can see today was once the private home of Moise de Camondo, a French-Jewish banker who bequeathed this stunning mansion patterned after the Petit Trianon, a chateau in Versailles to his only son, Nissim de Camondo.

During the Great War, instead of leaving Paris, Lt. de Camondo joined the French army and was killed on duty, on 1917. To honor his son, Moise de Camondo turned the mansion into a museum and ordered that everything in it would be preserved in their original, pristine condition.

Copyright Les Arts Décoratifs

Copyright Les Arts Décoratifs

table - Les Arts Décoratifs -  Jean-Marie del Moral

Copyright Les Arts Décoratifs

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You can visit Musee Nissim de Camonodo at 63, rue de Monceau, 75008. It is open from Wednesdays to Sundays, from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM. The admission fee for adults is €7.50 and €5.50 for children. For more information: www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr

Studio of Antoine Bourdelle

Preserved homes turned into museums are a common theme here in Paris. For many deceased sculptors and masters of art, their homes or rented studios in Paris are often transformed by the local government and turned into public landmarks: the studio of Antoine Bourdelle is one perfect example of this practice.

Musée Bourdelle is now an art museum but from 1885 to 1929 (44 years!), it served as Bourdelle’s own workshop. After his death, the Bourdelle estate bequeathed the workshop to the government, rebuilt the building where the studio is now located, and was expanded by several architects in the 1960s. A great portion of the museum is not vintage or historical, but if you join the educational tour that occurs here regularly, you will be given a chance to see Bourdelle’s studio.

In fact, Bourdeller’s workshop has not changed. Here is Bourdelle in his workshop in an undated picture…

Bourdelle's studio

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And here is the workshop today, complete with the parquet floors and all of Bourdelle’s unfinished work:

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Copyright bourdelle.paris.fr

But of course, not all sculptors and painters have the honor of having their former homes turned into shrines (of sorts) and a memorial that houses their work; and most definitely, not all homes of renowned individuals in Paris were turned into public attractions.

The memory of the singer and actress Edith Piaf, for example, lives on in the letters and pictures which are stored in an apartment owned by an author and biographer in the 11th arrondissement.

Musee Edith Piaf

Despite being a private museum run by the Friends of Édith Piaf Association, tourists flock the pied-a-terre-turned museum to see fan letters, decor, vinyl souvenirs, and pictures which were given to and owned by Edith Piaf. If you are a fan of the ‘La vie en Rose’ songstress, you may need to reserve before visiting the museum.

Musee Edith Piaf

Not all historical homes today are used to host French masterpieces. If you want to see how Asians in Paris lived in the early 20th century, this unusual building in the 8th district should be the perfect example.

Mr. Loo’s Almost-Forgotten Pagoda in Champs-Elysees

It’s hard to miss this red building with oriental external features as you walk the entire stretch of Champs-Elysees. The Pagoda Paris, as it is known today, was once the home of Mr. Ching Tsai Loo who emigrated from China in the 1900’s. The building served as Mr. Loo’s workplace, office, and residence, but when he died in 1957, the Pagoda closed down only to reopen 50 years later!

Pagode Paris

An unknown private investigator now owns Pagoda Paris, but instead of demolishing the structure or using it for other purposes, Pagoda Paris is now one of many Chinese museums in France.

Pagode Paris

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Pagode Paris

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There are plenty of historical mansions in Paris which you can visit; some for free, others with a fee. Many of these historical mansions have been preserved in their original condition with the intention to teach the later centuries about life in the past.

While we are in the topic of time capsules, there is one mansion outside Paris, in particular, which was built for this very purpose.

Mantin Mansion in Moulins, Central France

Also known as the Mantin Mansion, this kingly home was once owned by the Mantin family. Its last known owner, Louis Mantin, bequeathed the property to the local government and explicitly stated in his will that his home was to become a museum 100 years after his death. Louis Mantin had no children or a wife when he died; perhaps leaving the home to the government seemed like a very smart decision.

The mansion is not without its quirks and odd features. Like most affluent families, Mantin had a wide collection of taxidermy. Seen here is a piece unofficially named as “Dueling Frogs” and it is one of the most popular and unusual pieces found in Mantin’s collection.

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Although Louis Mantin lived in the 18th century, he did own plenty of 15th century pieces, as well as a painting of a French noble who is believed to have lived in the 15th or 16th centuries.

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

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Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Copyright Jérôme Mondière

Looking to stay in mansions and apartments in Paris that look as good as these? Our Champs Elysees – Faubourg Saint Honore II apartment located in the 8th district has all the makings of an elegant French home. A well-preserved spiral staircase,  a common attribute of 17th century buildings, leads you straight to the front door of this pied-a-terre. Book today!

Delicious Pastry Destinations

Pastry Shops in Paris

In a city known for its gourmet offerings, Paris is generously lined with pastry shops in all directions which are for you to visit this spring. It doesn’t matter if you are in Paris for only 24 hours or even 3 days. If you want to make your trip to Paris worthwhile, it’s important to visit the restaurants, cafes, and patisseries that have given Paris its reputation as a gourmet capital.

Stohrer’s

Our list begins with the oldest and probably, the most popular patisserie in Paris: Stohrer’s in 51, rue Montorgueil, 75002.

Cakes, desserts, cupcakes, crepes– name any sweet creation and you can find it here, prepared by some of Paris’ most talented chefs. Stohrer’s was established in 1730, by Nicolas Stohrer, Polish by birth, and served as the official pastry chef of Marie Leszczynska who later became the wife of King Louis XV of France.

Stohrer's

Aside from bread and pastries, Stohrer’s has explored other dishes and now serves full meals every so often.

 La Bague de Kenza

If you are looking for unusual hole-in-the-wall establishments or pastry chefs that are truly out-of-the-ordinary, we highly recommend visiting this Algerian pastry shop in 106 rue Saint-Maur, 75011.

La Bague de Kenza

La Bague de Kenza is the place to be if you want to acquaint yourself with Algerian pastries in a neat, French environment. The pastry delights here are prepared with dates and other fruits, a diversion from the usual way French pastries are prepared.

Des Gâteaux et du Pain

It’s not uncommon for tourists to visit Paris only to go binge-eating on delicious pastries. In fact, many Parisians themselves confess that, from time to time, they visit Des Gâteaux et du Pain, located in the distant 63 boulevard Pasteur, 75015 just to order a croissant.

Des Gâteaux et du Pain

Claire Damon of Des Gâteaux et du Pain commands quite a group of loyal customers who have all been drawn to this elegant, fairly-popular pastry shops due to her interesting and creatively-prepared pastries. If you consider yourself an enthusiast of pastry creations that not only taste good but look good as well, this is the patisserie to visit.

It isn’t hard to find a pastry shop in Paris– you can hurl a pebble at any direction and it should land on a landmark patisserie. It doesn’t matter how much you plan to spend on a plate either, what matters is that you enjoy your meal!

Secret Gardens to Visit in Paris

Louvre Gardens

The parks and public gardens in Paris will be jam packed and crowded with tourists and natives who will most likely be out and about to make use of the cool springtime breeze. If you want to steer clear from busy parks, make your way to some of Paris “secret” gardens.

As you probably know, Paris is home to hundreds of parks and garden courtyards where beautiful variants of flowers and plants thrive. They are often a hit during the spring seasons to tourists and Paris’ natives.

Jardin Catherine-Labouré
29, rue de Babylone
75007, Paris

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Jardin Catherine-Labouré is known to be a relaxing venue for a stroll, but within the park grounds is a garden where grapevines and berries are found. Since it is open to the public, you can visit anytime you like.

Hotel Dieu
1, place du Parvis Notre Dame
75004, Paris
33-1-42-34-82-34

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Part hotel, part hospital, and part cultural establishment (it is the oldest hospital in Paris, after all), Hotel Dieu’s courtyard garden boasts several statues, a vast variety of flora, and wide pathways for a stroll.

A Night of History and Culture

Louvre Museum

Visiting Paris during the a busy and lively season means you get to take part in all of Paris’ springtime festivals. Participating in these celebrations is probably the best way to unlocking and understanding the beauty and mystery of Paris, so start your rediscovery of the city at the Nuit des Musees, or simply, the “Night of Museums” on 18 May 2013.

Museum doors will stay open and unlocked for the whole night of 18 May 2013, assuring you of your free access to hundreds of Parisian museums and cultural centers. Aside from the opportunity to see different exhibits for free and for extended hours, revelry will also take to the streets on this particular Saturday.

Nuit des Musees
18 May 2013
Or for more details: www.nuitdesmusees.culture.fr