"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 Square 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 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.