Sunday, 8 May 2011

A road runs through it

Encircling the medieval city of Paris were a series of "folies", or country houses surrounded by large gardens. Most of these have now disappeared, but those left behind often have interesting stories to tell. This is the case with the Château des Ternes in the 17th arrondissement.

The plot originally dates from 1582, but nothing remains on site today from this period. As these houses passed down through the generations, successive owners would rebuild according to the fashions of the day, and the building we see today is from the 18th century.

The house remained a country escape until 1778 when it was sold to three men, Jean-Baptiste Servat, Charles-Nicolas Rolland, and Samson-Nicolas Lenoir, from a new breed of speculator stock. It was Lenoir, an ambitious architect, in particular who saw money making potential of the land, and he installed a metalworks factory in the gardens. A site of aristocratic idling became one of proletarian toil.

His next act though was more interesting, and one that has left a trace today. He chose to pierce a street right through the heart of the chateau – a very revolutionary pre-revolutionary act!

Although named Rue Bayen today, this street was originally baptised Rue de l'Arcade, a name seemingly designed to attract the urban flaneurs who were starting to appear. The revolution that followed brought further rapid change to the area, although this house remained outside of the city until 1860. 19th and 20th century urbanisation saw the gardens disappear (although two or three small patches still remain) and today it is difficult to imagine that there was ever a country house here at all.

An interesting thought as you walk through what must have once been the entrance to the property!

5 comments:

Owen said...

How wonderful it would be to have a country house in Paris today... but I guess there are not many who can afford that. But a little dreaming never hurt anyone...

Hope all is well with the Adam familiy...

Kiki said...

Adam; you produce such thrilling, fascinating and utterly interesting reading! Thank You for that. Sadly I couldn't follow your last posts for many reasons but I shall find some time soon to go back in time and space to get myself informed. You're such a well of useful, interesting news - I love all your posts!
I also much appreciate your style, your vocabulary and ways of 'entertaining' at the same time as giving out info. You should be a teacher and kids would be lucky to be in your classes.... :)
Thanks again.
kiki

FotoMarg said...

What a variety of owners/uses/architecture this site has had.

Omid said...

Thank you for this... I used to walk through there all the time during my brief period in the 17th and never bothered to look up why there was a public passage going through what seemed like private property.

Peter said...

So, you made an excursion to "my" arrondissement! ... and I haven't even posted about this!

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