The Nouvelle-Athènes district, birthplace of Parisian Romanticism, was born in 1820 on the hillside of the Saint-Georges district, between Montmartre to the North and the Grands Boulevards area to the South.

This hill, formerly full of fields, is urbanized by La Peyrière and his architect and the place quickly becomes the bourgeois, artistic and intellectual epicenter of Paris.

The geographical location of the district is ideal, since it is close to the Grands Boulevards area but does not suffer from the noise and agitation of the busy area.

The bucolic charm of the gardens, the elegance of the buildings and the proximity to the town center ensure a rapid success for the Nouvelle-Athènes district.

The bourgeoisie, in search of modernity and comfort, abandon the older districts for modern buildings in full expansion thanks to real estate speculation.

The district is baptized “Nouvelle-Athènes” (“New Athens”) in 1823 by the journalist Dureau de la Malle. Dureau de la Malle, who lives in the district, praises “the healthiness of the air that one breathes there” and “its happy Southern exposure”.

The name “Nouvelle-Athènes” reflects the Grecomania of the moment, fueled by the war of independence of the Greeks against the Ottomans and the contemporary taste which tends to be antique and neoclassical.

As a matter of fact, the many private mansions built in the district between 1820 and 1850 take up elements of neo-classical style.

The Parisian artistic and intellectual elite, in tune with the international events and stylistic tastes of its time, settle in the area, wishing to be the new “republic of arts and letters” and carried away by its philhellenism, its sensitivity to beauty and great impulses, launches the romantic movement.

The Nouvelle-Athènes district is invested by many painters, actors, musicians and writers. In 1819, the district had nine artists. In 1850, they are eighty.

The painters Ary Scheffer, Gustave Moreau, Eugène Delacroix, Théodore Chassériau, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Horace Vernet or Vincent Van Gogh live, depending on the era, in the neighborhood and get their paint supplies from Père Tanguy, the color merchant on Henri Monnier street.

Gustave Moreau museum

Le Père Tanguy – 14 Clauzel street (formerly Henri Monnier street)

Father Tanguy, benevolent and paternal, was painted by Vincent Van Gogh

Stage people are not left out: Marie Taglioni and Marie Dorval settle in this new district and the private mansions of François-Joseph Talma, Mademoiselle Duchesnois and Mademoiselle Mars competed in elegance and research, Tour-des-Dames street.

Tour-des-Dames street – Talma mansion at number 9

Tour-des-Dames street – Private mansion of Mademoiselle Duchesnois at number 3

Tour-des-Dames street – Mansion of Mademoiselle Mars at number 1

George Sand and Frédéric Chopin live for a time in Square d’Orléans, a private residence inspired by English-style squares, built around a fountain. They live there in a provincial way, George Sand boasting “a country air”. Alexandre Dumas lives there too. He gives a reception with 700 guests. To do so, he invests the empty apartment next to his.

Square d’Orléans

Frochot Avenue, which is a private alley, is home to Théodore Chassériau, Alexandre Dumas, Théophile Gautier and Charles Baudelaire depending on the era.

The sculpture department is represented by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle who resides at number 17 of the street which now bears his name.

This beautiful artistic society is often found at Ary Scheffer’s place, whose home is now the Museum of Romantic Life.

Romantic Life museum

The Nouvelle-Athènes district is also home to many young courtesans (“lorettes”) – and this is where the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette church takes its name. Built between 1823 and 1836 by Hippolyte Lebas, the church is a neoclassical masterpiece.

Only one courtesan will be rich and famous: La Païva, who resides on St-Georges Place in the neo-Renaissance mansion given to her by one of her lovers. She later has an absolutely decadent palace built on the Champs-Elysées.

St Georges Place – The Hôtel de la Païva at number 28

St Georges Place – The Dosne-Thiers foundation in the former private mansion of President of the Republic Adolphe Thiers, at number 27

St Georges Place – Statue of Paul Gavarni by Denys Puech and Henri Guillaume – Paul Gavarni was a French illustrator, famous for his drawings of Paris Carnival

October 13, 2023