14 January 2007

Paris: The Blue Door

"So where is this door in Paris anyway?" asked a reader in an e-mail. "You never did tell us."

Back on Dec. 10, I featured a little quiz involving the photo at right. "A Sun-Dappeled Door in Paris," I called it. I said I would send a gift (the gift was a package of wild rice) to the first person who could identify the location of the door which was near a charming Paris park. Well, Paris is dotted with charming parks, so that wan't much of a clue.

Here's the story behind the door: It is located at 14 Rue St. Julien le Pauvre, just across the street from Square Viviani on the Left Bank within the shadow of Notre Dame Cathedral. As you are walking down the street toward Notre Dame, the door is on your left. It stands out for its beauty and its carving of a reclining woman holding the scales of justice.

According to Leonard Pitt's "Walks Through Paris," the door leads to a house once owned by Isaac Laffémas (1584-1687), chief of police under Cardinal Richelieu, who perhaps better known as "The Cardinal's Hangman." Laffémas' house dates back to the 14th century. Its cellars were used to house prisoners in 1783 when other prison cells were full.

What has this got to to with food, you ask? Not much, except Park René Viviani was very green the spring day we took photographs there, and the green of spring brings to mind many culinary options, one of which will be posted later today. There is a tea shop near St. Julien le Pauvre, so you can bet the recipe will involve tea.

Park René Viviani was created in 1928, on the site of former annexes of Hotel Dieu. To see the street as it looked like before the park was built, watch "The Temptress," a 1926 melodrama starring Greta Garbo.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Mimi, thanks for this posting. I will have to add this book to my list for my next trip to Paris. Hopefully sooner than the last one that took 19 years! I'm looking forward to the next post for the connection to the blue door.

Mimi said...

Ah, the connection is a bit tenuous, F2B.

I hope it will be tasty, though.

Terri said...

I've seen this door and it's outstanding. And every visit to Paris, one of my first stops is to the church of St. Julien....I have a grandson named "Julien" and I always go in and light a candle for him.
Did you say tea? Then I'll definitely be back soon...all of a sudden...while I still love my coffee...I've been experimenting with drinking different teas. Love the greeen tea and the Chai Tai with great spices.

Jann said...

Posts don't always have to be about food-I found this article simply delicious! It is a lovely sight!

Mimi said...

Terri, I look forward to your report two months before I get there. I do not have any reason to believe the tearoom is no longer there — see my next post for more information.

I agree, Jann. As I always say, food is about more than eating.

Linda said...

I saw that door open once. I was expecting something really exotique but was disappointed to see a rather ordinary building and some cars parked in a small space. I think it must have once been much more grand.

Mimi said...

How disappointing, Linda! I saw a few other doors that were elaborate and I suspect they were just entrances to courtyards, too.

But oh, what pretty doors.