Villa Louvat, rue Boulard, Paris 14th district

At no. 38 rue Boulard in the 14th district of Paris, a huge porch gives access to the villa Louvat. Behind that beautiful art nouveau stone archway is a sort of corridor. This leads to an inner square in which a large number of cars are parked. These add nothing to the elegance of that place.

Villa Louvat, rue Boulard, Paris 14th district

Villa Louvat rue BOulard
The Villa Louvat on rue Boulard in the 14th arrondissement

At the end of this corridor and after this small square, there are workshops on both sides. It is likely that horses were originally kept here. Before the automobile invaded our lives, the local authorities forbade anyone to keep a horse-drawn carriage in the street. That’s why there are so many old stables in Paris.

There is a famous Harvey-Weinstein-like scene in “His Excellency Eugene Rougon” by Zola. It ends rather badly for the “hero”, as for Harvey Weinstein. This scene takes place in a similar stable in the rue Marbeuf. It’s hard to imagine that the Champs-Élysées was a wasteland at the time. But it was, however, until about 1828.

A real estate development of the 1900s rue Boulard

The Villa Louvat was part of a 1913 building programme that included “a house and an artist’s studio, built […] by architect Schroeder”. Schroeder was responsible for the construction of most of the superb 1900s buildings in the vicinity. They are in the Haussmann style with art nouveau decorations. Source : Mairie de Paris.

Let us remind our readers who are not familiar with Paris, that the term “villa” refers to much more than a beautiful residence in the capital. Rather, it depicts a neighbourhood, a collection of dwellings (like the villa Adrienne not far away, for example).

I noticed not long ago – almost 15 years after I drew this sketch – that some modern architect had defaced the pretty porch of the Villa Louvat by adding a hideous gate.

It is understandable that the inhabitants wanted to preserve access to this place and prevent intruders like us. However, one could try and imagine what an architect from the beginning of the twentieth century would have done if the inhabitants had asked him to protect this place. He might have decorated it with a pretty wrought iron gate inspired by floral motifs, as was the case in the art nouveau era.

It’s worthy of note that many artists stayed in rue Boulard, including Gaugin who lived at 29, hosted by his friend Émile Schuffenecker (see Association Monts 14, quête d’un patrimoine menancé, 14th arrondissement de Paris).

Yann Gourvennec
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