La Nouvelle Athènes Paris

A visit to the Nouvelle Athènes quarter of Paris begins with a visit to the Musée de la vie Romantique, 16 rue Chaptal in the ninth arrondisement of Paris. IMG_0594

The building which houses the museum has retained its original decor and character.  A secluded passage of shaded trees leads to this mansion built in 1830.

It is one of the few homes that still remain in Paris dating back to the days of King Louis-Philippe’s monarchy. The original owner,  Ary Scheffer,  was a romantic Dutch born painter whose painting were inspired by history and literature.

His painting such as Gaston de Foix (1824), Les Femmes souliotes (1828) and Françoise de Rimini  (1835) were influenced by Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.  He also drew inspiration from the writings of Goethe and Effie and Jeanie dans la prison d’Edimbourg was drawn after Walter Scott’s novel “The Heart of Midlothian”. Scheffer was a fashionable portrait painter, and the French royal family sat for him many times.  He was also an art teacher for the children of the Duc d’Orléans, the future King Louis-Philippe.


Portrait de la Princesse Marie d’Orleans

Among the prestigious guests who came regularly to this neighbourhood were Rossini, George Sand and Frédéric Chopin.

Close to two hundred artefacts were bequeathed to the City of Paris by George Sand’s granddaughter Aurore Lauth-Sand.  Other items on display include precious pictures, jewelry, feather pens, paper knives and seals with George Sand’s initials and souvenirs from  her grandmother Marie-Aurore de Saxe.

George Sand once stated that  there was only one happiness in life, “to love and be loved”. For ten years Chopin and George Sand were the celebrity couple of Paris.  They had a long and passionate relationship, which became more and more platonic near the end of Chopin’s life. They broke up two years before Chopin’s death.  He died of tuberculosis  before he reached his fortieth birthday.

Chopin  was of Polish aristocracy, and he came to live in France in 1831. His music was heard amongst small, elite circles of Paris in contrast to his native Poland where, known for being a child prodigy, he was prone to moments of stage fright.

The plaster casts of Sand’s arm and Chopin’s hand can be seen at the Musée de la vie Romantique  and are reminders of their eight year love affair.


Auguste Clésinger (1814-1883)

It was while Sand nursed Chopin in Nohant in Central France that he composed his B minor Sonata.  During this  time, he was prone to frequent coughing fits.  As Chopin’s  health began to deteriorate, so too his relationship with George Sand.

Sand wrote to a friend of Chopin saying that he was the “most inconsistent of men.  There is nothing permanent about him but his cough”.

The Funeral March was played at Chopin’s funeral and George Sand was notably absent.

Chopin’s body is buried  at Père Lachaise, Paris but his heart lies embedded in a Church column in Warsaw.


La Nouvelle Athènes

Nouvelle Athènes is situated in  the ninth arrondisement of Paris, and it is here that intellectuals, painters and musicians resided. It was the initiative of Jean Joseph Lapeyrière to house an ever increasing population of Parisians here  following the revolution.

The homes of these famous personalities were built in the new style of neo-classic architecture, and many of them  looked onto private parks and gardens.

It was in 1823 that French historian and poet Dureau de La Malle baptised this quarter  (situated between rue Blanche and the dance halls of rue Saint Lazare and rue des Martyrs) La Nouvelle Athènes.  This  area would become the home of the  literary and artistic jet set of the nineteenth century.

Rue de la Tour-des-Dames

  • Tour refers to a windmill belonging to the ladies of Montmartre Abbey which was demolished in 1822.  Actresses of le comédie Française lived on rue de la Tour-des-Dames.
  • Talma, the tragadian of French theatre lived at No. 9 rue de la Tour-des-Dames

rue de la tours des dames3

The property shown above is on rue de la Tour-des-Dames and it is situated in the very heart of La Nouvelle Athènes.  The architecture  is charachteristic of the sober elegance of the Greek neo-classic style which was very much in fashion at the time.

Rue Bruyere

The buildings of La Nouvelle Athènes where unified in a noble, somber style of architecture with very little ornamentation.  There were usually three to four floors and a roof just visible from street level.


  • 26 rue Bruyere – the artist, Auguste Renoir lived here between in 1897 for five years

Place St George

Place St George was modernised with the arrival of the North South metro line between 1906 – 1911 so that by the 1920s it became a fashionable place for people of the theatre to meet.

Alexis-André Dosne received money to finance the housing development at Place St George and it was here that the first  neo-classic style buiding was constructed.



  • 28  place Saint-George – built by Edouard Renaux, a Neo Renaissance architect, this one of the first buildings in Paris where the architect worked in association with a team of “sculptures ornemanistes” to create such an imposing facade of stone richly decorated with sculpture.

place st george

  • The statue in the centre of Place St George is of Paul Gavarni, an artist and characaturist of the 19th century.
  • 7  rue Clauzel.  A superb example of a Renaissance style building of the 19 century
  • 58 rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette was Delacroix’s residence and four  years later Paul Gauguin was born at No. 56 just two doors down.

Rue Rochefoucauld

  • Nos 5-7 were built in the first half of the XIX century for famous actors, painters and intellectuals of the time and has a private garden attached to it which was a feature typical of the Nouvelle Athènes.

Musée Gustave-Moreau

The Musée National Gustave Moreau is situated on 14 rue Rochefoucauld and is dedicated to the works of symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826-1898).


The building which houses Moreau’s masterpieces was originally his family home, which later became his studio. He  decided to transform the building into a museum in 1895.

Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh  first arrived in Paris on March 1886, and his brother Theo lodged him at his appartments, first on the Rue de Laval (today Rue Victor Massé), then on the Rue Lepic.

Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner stayed on rue d’Aumale in October 1860 and July 1861.

rue d’Aumale

On this remarkably calm street can be found another variation of architecture which belonged to la Nouvelle Athène (below).


Square d’Orléans

Situated on 80 rue Taitbout is le Square d’Orléans where George Sand and  Frédéric Chopin once resided in separate appartments (No. 5 & 9) respectively.  The interior courtyard is a good example of  “le Square Anglais“.



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