Hidden Corners of Paris—Square d’Orléans
Paris, as does any big city, has crowds, rumbling traffic, noise. Sometimes it seems really hard to escape the hustle and bustle, but luckily Paris has many lovely parks where it’s possible to find some peace and tranquility. There are also many pretty hidden corners, squares and tiny gardens in the city, and we’ve had fun over the years trying to track down some of these. Interestingly, most of these have a story too.
On our last trip to Paris, we stayed on rue de la Lorette in the 9th arrondissement, and enjoyed getting to know that neighborhood a bit better. A famous market street there is rue des Martyrs—a couple of people have written articles on that recently.
Square d’Orléans isn’t a square that you’d just walk by and find. And it’s not actually a square. You’d need to know that behind the entrance at 80, rue Taitbout there is a series of three connected courtyards, each surrounded by apartments. It’s peaceful, it’s quiet, and it’s hard to believe that the 9th arr is just out there.
The first buildings date from the end of the 18th century, with six apartments, and the property changed hands many times. British investors took over the property between 1830-1857, notably the architect Cresy. They remodeled and expanded the buildings to what you see today, and added the fountain to the central courtyard. This area became known as Nouvelle Athènes, and during its heyday many artists were attracted to this address.
Residents included painters (such as Edouard
Dubufe); writers (for example, Alexander Dumas, Senior); the famous dancer Marie-Sophie Taglioni at No. 2; the sculptor Dantan; and the pianist Zimmerman at No. 7 (among whose students were Gounod and Bizet). But, the two most famous inhabitants were Frédéric Chopin and Georges Sand. He lived at No. 9 during his love affair with Sand. She had her own apartment at No. 5, which she kept until 1849. When she moved out, Charles Baudelaire moved in, so the square is full of history. In Chopin’s old apartment are now the offices of an organization for authors and composers (SNAC).
Who would have known?!