Monday, 14 December 2015

The Smallest House in Paris

Measuring just a little over one metre wide, three metres long and five metres high, there is little doubt that the property at number 39 Rue du Chateau d'Eau is the smallest building in Paris. But how did it get there and what purpose does it serve today?

As is often the case in such examples, the origin of this property seems to have been a dispute. Originally the gap between the two buildings (situated opposite the town hall of the 10th arrondissment and alongside the Marché Saint Martin) was a narrow passageway, but following a disagreement about ownership and access, one of the parties decided to end the argument by filling the space with a new property. 

The property was officially recognised with its own number in the street, but was never really more than a tiny shop unit at ground level (originally a shoemaker) with a room above, which actually connects to the first-floor property at number 41.

A newspaper article at the end of the 19th century describes the property, pointing out that the room was home to a baby, the cot apparently taking up the entire space. Peeking up into the open window on the day I passed recently, it seems that it has more recently been converted into a kitchen. 

More mysterious is the wall above the property and its strange wooden shutter. No mention is made of an additional floor to the property anywhere, so it must belong to another building behind. Exactly what form that building takes or what its purpose is though is not clear, and Google Maps is of little help.

With two rather smart properties on either side, which presumably have rear windows too, it would be difficult to imagine a building any larger than the one that is visible. Is there then a second tiny property above or behind the city's smallest house?





8 comments:

Dom Ciancibelli said...

A great find and one of those little oddities that brings me back to places like this in the city. I appreciate your sharing this with us. A must see on my next trip.
Dominic

Kiki said...

This is quite a funny post really. Usually you are SO WELL informed that I wonder how on earth you get all your info together.

Here you tell us something that we (as relative newcomers to Ile de France in 2008) knew from nearly day one. Go on one of the Seine cruises (we take all our friends on the tours starting at Pont Neuf) and you get tons of info and photo opps from your tour guide (E and F). And YES, you are right, nobody could tell us the story of the shutter either... So if you do, please let us know.

And PLEASE don't think for one minute that this is a complaint. You are doing absolutely fabulous work and although I usually read you with several weeks' delay due to other commitments, it is always a tremendous pleasure.

@Dom Ciancibelli: Honestly Don, take a boat cruise... it takes an hour and you can take endless photos, you see the Eiffel Tower with the top of the carrousel without getting run over, you can choose at your leisure which of the many wonderful places you would want to visit after your cruise - you are sheltered when it rains and enjoy a breeze when it's hot - and no, I have neither shares nor any financial interests in any of those companies. I just know a good deal when I see one. This is the ONE tip I give everybody coming to Paris - at any time - and all our guests have done this, some several times (we must have been at least a dozen times ourselves - you always see something new or different...). And since you ask, the other vital tip is to see the city from Tour Montparnasse because you really get the full 360° AND you see the ET! (AND it costs less AND the waiting cues are shorter) :)

Adam said...

Hi Kiki,

Good to hear from you again. In this case though I think you have the wrong house in mind. Yes, Seine cruises point out a small building alongside the river, but that is not the city's smallest property! The one featured in this post is a long way from the Seine, but is also much smaller and less attractive then the riverside home.

Cergie said...

40 cm au delà d'un mètre (1m40) cela fait tout de même beaucoup plus ! Presque 50% ! A se demander quelle est la longueur de la propriété et la surface habitable totale... Pousser les murs un peu qui n'en a rêvé à Paris mais aussi ailleurs : j’agrandirais bien notre pièce à vivre en comblant la partie de jardin qui nous appartient et est entre les murs de notre maison et de celle du voisin ! Lorsqu'on regarde la façade on voit que le crépi relie la petite maison à sa voisine. Elles sont donc une seule entité.
Ce qui est drôle est de compter le nombre de personnes qui posent devant la façade sur la carte postale ancienne... Sûrement pas le patron + les employés de l'échoppe...

Cergie said...

Un peu avant Noël je suis allée à Dieppe et j'ai noté toutes les petites échoppes étroites (une vitrine + une porte) qui y sont à vendre, peut-être d'anciennes maisons de pêcheurs ? Je n'ai rien trouvé dessus, mais j'ai trouvé que le prix est très raisonnable : pour 50 000 € environ. Mais Dieppe est bien loin de Paris et puisque l'on prend de l'âge une maison étroite n'est guère conseillée....

Susan Dan said...

There are some of the good principles shown quite in detail and it will also be too good for the professionals to show something within some meaning of the same.



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Michael Maloney said...

It is very interesting to read on something different apart from the ever famous Eiffel Tower whenever we speak of Paris. This smallest house would be my next destination attraction should I ever decide to give the place a visit again anytime soon. Thanks for sharing some historical facts with us too.

Mel Brandle said...

Small houses are nothing new especially in urban areas where it is a concrete jungle and space is often a constraint. Hence, developers build tiny homes to accommodate the rising need for dwellings. Homeowners might have a new issue which is with storage but with ready self storage facilities around to aide in that area, nothing is impossible.

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