Avenue, Frochot, Paris

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Though shut away behind a keypad-controlled gate, this little paradise can be admired through the wrought-iron railings. Laid out in 1830, the avenue is lined by opulent 19th-century residences surrounded by greenery. This mix of architectural styles here (neo-Gothic, Flemish, Medieval, and Palladian) has attracted the attention of artists of various periods: Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas senior, Toulouse-Lautrec and Victor Massé are some of those who succumbed to its charms. More recently, Django Reinhardt amused himself by burning some of his furniture in the fireplace of one of the houses, while François Truffaut used the avenue as the setting for a scene in his famous film Les Quatre Cents Corps.

A curious tale has been told of the house at No.1 since the death of composer Victor Massé, who spent his last years here afflicted with multiple sclerosis. It would seem that the house has brought nothing but bad luck to owners or occupiers. The director of Folies-Bergères, who had bought it for himself, left it to his housekeeper, who was then savagely beaten to death with a poker. Having stood empty for thirty years, the house was then bought by Sylvie Vartan, who lived here a very short time and then moved out abruptly. The next to buy the property was Mathieu Galev, and he died too – a victim of multiple sclerosis….True story or urban myth???

To the left of the avenue there is a striking stained-glass window of Art Deco marine motfis, part of the former Théâtre en Rond, dating from 1873.

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Worth a visit if only to see this magnificent stained glass window.

 

(Adapted in part from Secret Paris by Jacques Garance Maud Ratton)

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