intoHistory, geschiedenis beleven in authentieke logies
The tall, narrow house that stands at No. 12 in the rue Vieille du Temple is rooted in the history of medieval Paris (the Marais quarter started to grow in the 12th century). Of the old mansion, only the foundations and the beams of each floor remain. These elements, preserved because of their good quality, were incorporated in the reconstruction works in the first half of the 19th century. Many old timber framed buildings, very vulnerable in the event of fire, were re-erected in stone at this time. The area, once prized by the nobility and the elite of the capital, was then home to a humble artisan population. We know that the house, which probably featured a commercial ground floor, has been converted into a hotel. An unpretentious hotel, which rented rooms on an annual basis and had a small restaurant on the first floor.
© Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais
Bought up by the current owner at the end of the ’80, the hotel has been extensively refurbished to reflect its 18th century lustre.
The Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais is located at the entrance of the Rue Vieille-du-Temple, one of the oldest streets of the neighborhood. Attested from the 13th century, where it led to the Templar Commandery, it left its name in history after the assassination in 1407 of Duke Louis of Orleans, brother of King Charles VI, felt into madness. The prince had just left the house of Queen Isabeau of Bavaria (his lover?), who lived down the street, when he was attacked by thugs in the pay of the Duke of Burgundy John the Fearless, his great political rival. This murder sparked off the civil war between the Armagnacs and Burgundians – a painful episode in the Hundred Years War – which dragged on until 1435.
Many beautiful mansions (e.g. the Tour du Pin, the Herouet Hotel or the Hotel de Rohan) bear witness to the prosperity of the area between the 16th and 18th century.
The personality of Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799) pervades the entire district (his own mansion was just a little bit further along the same street). The hotel is dedicated to the memory of the celebrated author of the “Barber of Seville” (1775) and “The Marriage of Figaro” (1778) who was also watchmaker, music teacher, diplomat, ship owner, arms trader, inventor of copyright for authors and … a royalist spy.
His mansion (47 rue Vieille-du-Temple) housed the headquarters of the trading house he founded in 1776 to supply George Washington and the American Revolution with ships and gunpowder until US Independence in 1782.
Discover the life of Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, the way A. Bigeard (owner of the hotel) recalls it (unfortunately, this recording is only available in French):
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The compact rooms, ceiling beams, small-sized windows, narrow balconies, and hewn stone cellar are typical of the old mansions in the Marais, despite the renovation works carried out under King Louis-Philippe. This was what convinced the owner of the Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais to re-create there this typical atmosphere of Parisian residences of the 18th century.
The interior space, altered over the years, has been completely redesigned in the 1980s. A great deal of care has gone into this work (chandeliers, paintings and silk furnishings …) respecting the original heart and structure of the building while incorporating all the latest improvements in terms of comfort expected in a modern hotel (lift, bathrooms, air conditioning …). Refined fabrics and selected antiques give all the rooms a cozy, intimate and romantic atmosphere. The genuine or Louis XV style furniture is a testimony to the best in Parisian craftsmanship.
The Caron de Beaumarchais hotel offers its guests an atmosphere more than a décor or an historical reconstruction. Clients are invited to a sensitive experience of the French “art de vivre” in the 18th century: an outstanding era of joy, life and luxury “invented in Paris”.
Listen to the way the owner has chosen the very raffinate antiques and furnitures of the hotel (unfortunately, this podcast is only available in French):
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An exceptionally fine 1792 piano forte (reminiscent of the one used by Mozart when adapting “The Marriage of Figaro” for the opera), a sculpted Louis XV harp (an allusion to the music lessons given by Beaumarchais to the royal princesses), delightful portraits in pastels and an original edition of Beaumarchais’s plays are to be admired in the lounge. I also like the Louis XVI chimneypiece where log fires burn in the winter.
Note the foot pedals of the harp, a mechanism invented by Beaumarchais himself which transformed it into a diatonic instrument. The most curious among you will notice the wrought iron hooks on the ceiling which serve to assemble the stunted joists, typical of structures where old beams are re-used.
Have a look at our article about the hotel, written on the spot, to appreciate the Caron de Beaumarchais Hotel as if you were sitting its period lobby.
Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais is a romantic cocoon, whose decor and antique furnishings are a particular inspiration to lovers of refined atmospheres. A perfect place for couples and travellers in search of historical settings, more than a place for families with young children to stay .
The rooms that I prefer are those in the front (which receive more light than those at the back ), especially from the second floor, because their old beams are still visible. Do not forget that we are in a very old part of Paris: space is at a premium. It is not easy to deploy more than one giant suitcases in these “cosy” rooms!
Be sure to specify when booking if you require a double bed or twin beds, because the double beds are quite narrow (as in former times). Finally, as the dining room cannot accommodate all guests at one sitting, do yourself a favour and order breakfast in your room!
Feel free to ask the hotel proprietor, Mr. A. Bigeard (who is often to be found in the entrance hall with his dog), for information on the life of Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais, or what criteria were used in the acquisition of the hotel’s typical period items and furnishings. He is a mine of information on all there is to see in the neighbourhood and can recommend some typical local restaurants.
Interview of Alain Bigeard, owner of the Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais
I have stayed here; an utterly delightful, lovely little time warp :)
I found the Caron de Beaumarchais just as described on intoHistory: a place that combines history, elegance and comfort in one building. And while a place with such a venerable history can be a bit stuffy, I found the hotel relaxed and welcoming. Speaking with M. Bigeard, I could tell he has a genuine love for French history and culture, especially the Paris of the 1700s. And that love shows in every detail of the hotel, from the lobby to the rooms -- even the elevator. On a practical note, the hotel is in a great location, with the restaurants and cafes of the Marais around the corner and Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter and the Pont Neuf within walking distance. Have a look at the post I wrote after my stay.
Merci Monsieur Bigeard pour votre charmant accueil. Je conserve de délicieux souvenirs de l'ambiance du salon (lobby), de sa musique d'époque et de la conversation que nous y avons eue. C'est vrai, les œuvres anciennes que vous y avez rassemblées racontent toutes des histoires. Tout comme notre chambre, dans laquelle j'ai redécouvert avec délice le "Barbier de Séville" et la frivolité savante des dialogues de Beaumarchais. Les vases en porcelaine chinoise peints sur les carreaux de la baignoire sont particulièrement fins. Pas courant, les salles de bains ornées de créations artistiques originales... Merveilleux souvenir, raffiné comme les œillets blanc et pourpre de vos petits bouquets.
Delightful stay in the intimacy of chamber 21 with its small balcony, its inspiring old beams, its secretary desk decorated with Chinoiserie and bedecked carpet. Perfectly romantic for our wedding anniversary. At night, the walls lined with silky fabrics turn a golden hue as if lighted with candles. Not much free space for morning exercises, but everyting is narrow in old Paris, isn’t it? Very good sound insulation.
A great keepsake!
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