Paris Apartment, Another World Frozen in Time

Imagine walking into an apartment filled with beautiful treasures that no one has seen or touched in 70 years. This lovely Paris apartment was literally frozen in time for seven decades, abandoned by Mrs. De Florian when she fled to the south of France just before the Second World War. Amazingly, she never returned.

Paris Apartment 1

 

It’s like something out of a movie. The contents was left undisturbed all these years. It was only after Madame De Florian passed away that anyone made this discovery since she paid her rent until she died at the age of 91. I love how it was described in one article I read, “Entering the untouched, cobweb-filled flat in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, it was like stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty, where time had stood still since 1900.”

Paris Apartment 4

 

The apartment is near a church in the French capital’s 9th arrondissement, between Pigalle red light district and Opera.

Paris Apartment 7

 

The first person to enter the home was Olivier Choppin-Janvry, a “Commissaire Priseur-Auctioneer.” The article said,”Walking under high wooden ceilings, past an old wood stove and stone sink in the kitchen, he spotted a stuffed ostrich and a Mickey Mouse toy dating from before the war.” Apparently, back in the day, it was a sign of affluence if you had a few taxidermy pieces in your home.

I love the wallpaper, it looks so familiar. It reminds me of one of the fabrics Mario Buatta loves and used back in the day…maybe from Colefax and Fowler. I’m going to do some research on that, see if I can find out anything. It’s close to THIS one, but I don’t think that’s it.

Paris Apartment 2

 

You can tell it was a beautiful, elegant place. I love all the wallpapers, the rugs, the furniture. Imagine how beautiful and vibrant the rugs must be underneath that 70 years worth of dust!

Paris Apartment 8

 

One of my favorite pieces found in the apartment was this painting by Giovanni Boldini, painted in 1898. At first, no one could find any record of the painting and wasn’t sure of the artist. Eventually, a scribbled love note from Boldini was found and it turns out, the French woman in the painting was the artist’s former muse,  Marthe de Florian, an actress with many admirers. She was the grandmother of Madame De Florian.

It must have been so hard for her to leave this apartment and all these beautiful pieces. I wonder why she never returned.

Paris Apartment 3

 

The apartment which is owned by her estate, has been left un-dusted and un-disturbed until this day.

Such a beautiful dresser! I would love to know what’s inside all the little bottles. Perfumes? Makeup? Wonder if they are brands that are still being made today.

Paris Apartment 5

 

Wonder what those little things are peeking down from that gorgeous wood-beam (coffered?) ceiling. I’d love to see more close-up photos of this apartment. Such a fascinating story!

Paris Apartment 1

 

Pictures and information in this post are from HERE and HERE




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Comments

  1. WOW! It gives me chill bumps just thinking about getting to walk through that undisturbed space! She certainly had some amazing pieces… and a fantastic apartment. So odd that she never returned…

  2. Susan.
    I read about this a few months ago when it first hit the news and it’s remained in the back of my mind ever since. Anytime I see anything about France, anything at all, be it decor to food to cosmetics and fashion, it will inevitably remind me of this story. I would absolutely LOVE to visit that room and snoop in every little corner. What an amazing time capsule this little apartment has become.
    Have a great week,
    Audrey

    • These beautiful pieces we see in that apartment is what everyone tries to copy now with paint. It’s so wonderful to see the “real” thing in all its patina glory. 🙂

  3. Oh my goodness Susan, what a marvelous apartment. There must be a fortune in treasures in that space. How I would love to see it in person. Thank you so much dear lady for all the interesting place of beauty you share on your blog (including your own home). I hope you are having a blessed 2014, Patti

  4. I think it’s fascinating to see this apartment untouched for 70 years. It make you wonder what she was thinking about the last few hours she lived there. Obviously the war, but it looks like she expected to return. Beautiful even after all this time!

  5. Peggy Thal says:

    Beautiful and amazing! The apartment is just a wonderland of the past. Such gorgeous things. I love the painting too. It has so much movement for a portrait. Would love to snoop around.

    • You know one of the things that amazed me about the painting…they described that gorgeous pink dress she’s wearing as French muslin fabric. I guess French muslin must be very different from what I think of as muslin. I thought the dress was pink silk or something like that.

  6. Mary Johnston says:

    Susan,
    where in the world do you come across all these interesting articles? Loved this story and the ambiance of the apartment!
    Mary

    • I saw where someone posted about a picture of the apartment on Facebook a few days ago. I just followed the link and was completely enchanted. Couldn’t get it out of my mind!

  7. Tess Maxey says:

    Wow Just Wow!! I’d love to just wander around – not touch anything but just to be able to look closely!!

  8. Isn’t that the most amazing story? I remember reading about it a little while ago….you have more pics than that article did though! 🙂

    I wonder if she has any silver? I’d love to know.

    Nan

  9. Linda Page says:

    I am with Mary Johnston….where do you find these interesting articles????? I love this apartment. Wouldn’t you love to all of a sudden be standing in the middle of that room? OMG!!!! I could snoop for hours. It looks like there was water damage to some of the wallpaper near the ceiling by the fireplace. So sad. I think what is hanging down from the coffered ceiling looks like wallpaper that has come unglued. The furniture, paintings, lighting fixtures are just exquisite. Maybe we could take a trip to see if for real. Wouldn’t that be fun!!!

    • I def wouldn’t be able to leave anything alone. Thank goodness they did. It would be so hard to not go in there and start dusting things off to see them more clearly. Wonder if someone will eventually do that. Yep, I saw that wallpaper. I loved all the wallpaper in the apartment…classic, beautiful papers I would never tire of. It makes me want to wallpaper a room in my home!

  10. Awesome Susan, thanks for sharing! I have dreamed of going to Paris some day! LOVE the gorgeous painting and that three sided, lighted, full length mirror is to die for! Pinning them for inspiration.

    Cindy@Glass Slipper Restorations

  11. Sandi Lee says:

    Isn’t is amazing that nothing was damaged by mice or water. Unbelievable!! Great story, Susan.

  12. Oh Susan, thank you so much for this fascinating glimpse into a bye-gone world! I would never have seen these pictures if not for you. Thank you so much.

    Happy belated New Year!
    Alicia

  13. Happy New Year Susan,
    Loved this post and just re-read it. The wallpaper in the room where Mickey and Big Bird were found is like one I chose for our bedroom two houses ago… I think it was Thiebault??? It was such a pretty room. I love wallpaper.
    What a story there must be behind Madame De Florian’s hasty departure… Can’t wait for the movie!
    SheilaC

  14. I am amazed at this story. I first heard of it last week and it totally fascinated me. The furniture and art are all fabulous. I think the stuff sticking down from the ceiling is wallpaper that must have been installed in between the wood. My first thoughts were that she had a lover and had left the place just the way it was when she last saw him!
    Who knows…. 🙂

    • I bet you’re right! I’ve seen that done in older homes. Thanks for clearing that up Liz…that must be it. The glue behind paper does seem to deteriorate after a while so that makes sense. That’s a romantic thought! We’ll go with that! 🙂

  15. My hubbie just said the very same thing….”can’t wait for the movie!” “Downton DeFlorian??” franki

    • lol Exactly! It would make a romantic movie, bittersweet indeed. There’s romance, war, art/fashion, intrigue…all the elements of a good movie. They can make it really riveting by making the reason she fled be more than just about the war…ummm, what it could be?

  16. Oh my word!! I wish I had discovered it!! The paintings and furniture are wonderful. I would have found it difficult not to rummage through the things on the dressing table. The mice may not have got into it, but I bet there were a few spiders around!! Yuk!
    It was obviously of great sentimental value for her to pay for it all those years. My story on that, that it was a secret tryst for her lover and when she fled, he perhaps had been part of the underground and killed, so she could not bear to visit there again, but did not want to let it go.

  17. This is amazing! Thank you for sharing. I just am amazed this survived WWII. How is that possible with German occupation and allied bombings?????

    • I too am amazed it survived WWII…sure is an enchanting story…I’d love to know what Mrs. De Florian made of her life after leaving it all behind..think I hear google calling…I love to hear what people do in their life times…following her passion maybe to a place she would be able to continue whatever it was she loved.? Leaving with nothing but the clothes on her back and the hope of the future…Thanks for sharing this mystery.!

  18. My daughter who lives in Birmingham sent me this article sometime back when she first read it. It fascinates me every time I read it. Can you imagine getting to actually walk through there? I think my favorite piece has to be the huge wall mirror. It would be fabulous as a head board for a king size bed.
    Thanks for sharing and I’ll be interested in any more info that you should uncover about it.

  19. Wow, this is both fascinating and a little eerie at the same time! The large mirror is absolutely spectacular!!! What any of us wouldn’t give to be let loose in that apartment:) I hope someone does some more research into why she abandoned it all those years ago.

  20. Doreen Krajzel says:

    Hi Susan;
    Oh my goodness, what beauty! My fav is the dresser that mirror is just to beautiful! Wish they could pack it all up and take it on a tour, what fun that would be. Thanks for sharing. Love Doreen

  21. What a wonderful apartment. Love the painting, the light, the wallpaper. What’s up with the ostrich?

  22. Oooh…perfect timing. I am in the middle of reading the book The Paris Architect and this goes right along with my book. Paris is my favorite city in the world….how marvelous would it be to live there in that apartment. Thank you SO much for sharing !!!

  23. Oh Susan,
    this sort of stories do evoke feelings of pity and compassion, don’t they?
    It certainly, wasn’t an easy decision for Madame De Florian to leave that jewel of an apartment!
    Of course, saving her life during WWII had priority over everything else, but why in the world, did she never go back?! I suppose, the apartment evoke good but also sad and painful memories for her and not only because of war, but maybe she was “lovesick”, too? 🙁 Maybe her “lover” died in that apartment while living there with her? So… it only had a sentimental value to her and no financial, that’s why she paid the rent for 70 years (!), even if she never moved again. She has never had the courage to abandon her “love nest”, irrevocably?
    Oh my! Can you tell, I always go wherever my imagination takes me?!
    ~Hugs to you~
    Cecilia
    P.S. In an Italian newspaper I’ve read that painting has been sold for 2,1 millions euros = $2,851,800!

  24. Wow!!! Nice of you to share this interesting story with us. I’m going to go back and reread your post and look at all the pictures again. Thanks again!

  25. Oh my gosh Susan, can you imagine if it was your job to clean and prep the items for sale, interesting and kinda fun but wow the dust, a pretty interesting undertaking don’t you think…Phyllis

  26. Love the dressing table, what a find this was!

  27. What a beautiful story filled with gorgeous furniture. I can envision it in it’s day. I’m guessing that Madame De Florian didn’t have any surviving family. Wonder what the estate will do with all of that? I certainly hope someone goes in and photographs all the items in detail and puts it in a book. What a treasure this is and you are a treasure for finding it and sharing it with us. Isn’t the blue wallpaper in the main room exquisite? Like you, I’m tempted to paper a room!

  28. Susan, you share some amazing posts, but this is truly fascinating! Now, I’ll be wondering what really happened to her, so if you ever hear of an update, please share! Dee 🙂

  29. Linda Louise S. says:

    I was extremely interested in this post because about 40 years ago I went to Paris and stayed in a hotel in Pigalle. So, all the things in the apartment were there when I was. It was one of the most wonderful trips of my life. I will never forget it. Thank you for the info.

  30. Would love to attend that tag sale!! Can u imagine what one would find? I bet it is all going to auction. So sad it wss left vacant. Her story almost is like Hugette Clark.

  31. This is absolutely fascinating! I saw one of the pictures on another blog and was so intrigued, is I was thrilled to see this in my inbox! I could just stare at these pictures forever, taking in every little detail. Thank for sharing. XO

  32. Oh my what a beautiful apartment. I would love to know the entire story – to never come back to that stunning apartment and that no one looted it. IT is amazing. Such beautiful items.
    Thanks so much for this wonderful post. Hope you are doing well Susan and Congratulations – a grandchild on the way – how exciting. When is she due?
    Did Downton Abby start again with a new season? I hope I haven’t missed any.
    Have a wonderful 2014.Mary

    • I know, me too. I googled to see if there had been in newer photos or additional info and couldn’t find anything. Maybe they have a movie in the works are keeping it all under wraps. Thanks! Baby is due end of February but is growing so quickly, we are wondering if he/she will arrive sooner. You know, someone told me it was starting and now I’ve forgotten the date…it was soon. It may have already aired. I’m not sure I’m going to watch. It really bothered me how they killed off so many characters last season. I don’t like that kind of thing. Maybe I’ll wait and see what folks are saying and if it looks like the show is headed in a more positive direction, then I’ll watch.

    • Susan this is the original reply and I didn’t check the box for notify me of follow-up comments by email or notify me of new posts by eamil; I sent 3 emails to your address and then today after I had received all of the comments that came in today I did check the box thinking that maybe I needed to do that. I am sorry about this and I can’t think of why I am getting your replys to other people.
      Anyway, its only on the Paris post. I loved the story and I loved how you added to it. You should write a book, it would be terrific. I also pulled up the other articles on her. Very interesting – almost like Downton Abby which I caught up on Sunday.
      Sorry about all this – have a great day.
      Mary

      • You may want to check the address where you sent the 3 emails because I never received them. My email is: betweennapsontheporch@gmail.com. There are two n’s in the address, back to back, maybe you left one off or something since I never got them. Check your “sent” folder to see where you sent those emails. They didn’t go to my spam folder either. Hopefully by unchecking that box, you won’t get anymore of the comments left on the post.
        Thanks, Mary.

  33. WOW!!!! I am so in L>O>V>E with every nook and cranny of this apartment. The furnishings, the carpets, the textiles. I would move in there today (after a bit of dusting of course) if there was room for my large family. I agree with you, I do wish they would have taken some closer photos of the moulding and ceilings. Thanks for sharing this 😀

  34. Hi, Susan! I’ve read your blog for a few months now and enjoy the variety.i especially enjoyed today’s fairy tale like post. Fascinating! My daughter, who also loves tablescapes told me about your blog. I have enjoyed it immensely. I am a grandmother ,so I know you you are excited about your soon arrival. I live in Georgia also out toward Athens . How about the 3 degree weather we had recently? Teresa

    • Thanks, Teresa! Yep, crazy weather! I hope we don’t see anymore of that this winter! 🙂 I was worried about the birds that come to the feeders, they were pretty scarce the last few days. I guess they either went further south or hunkered down in a bush somewhere. Today was so much nice with temps in the upper 40’s and I saw my bluebirds back at the feeders. Hope you guys stayed warm in Athens!

  35. Wow….how I would love to poke around all those treasures!!! Very interesting story, and Its amazing that mice and other rodents hadn’t nested in there and ruined all the fabrics and such. I believe that is wallpaper that has come loose and is hanging from the ceiling. Also amazing is that no one was curious that no life was showing from the apartment, how about mail piling up by the door, not even the landlord was concerned………you find the most interesting articles!!!!

    • Thanks! You know, I had wondered about that, too. Maybe she wrote the landlord and told him/her where she was so they wouldn’t wonder. I guess since she kept paying the rent, they didn’t care. I also wondered if she was really renting it. I know people talk about “buying” apartments in New York which always confused me since apartments where I live are always rented and never available for purchase. I wonder if in Paris, an apartment is purchased or always rented? The painting is gorgeous, isn’t it? I love the colors and the swirls/movement in the dress.

  36. I wrote a post, but it has not shown up………I’ve seen that painting before, someone has a blog with it as the header…….

  37. Amazing! Such wonderful treasures hidden away for all those years. The furniture and paintings are beautiful!

  38. Love this post. I’m wondering if you or your followers would be interested in creating their own scenario of what happened and maybe you’d end up with a screenplay or a book b/c you have only a beginning or an ending by just starting with the apt. I work in real estate and every now and then we get back an old apartment with some unusual treasures. Rarely does a family leave anything worthwhile but sometimes they do. I’d be interested in how you would research the wallpaper?

    • I was thinking about that last night…have something in mind. 🙂
      I just googled Colefax and Fowler vintage floral paper and found the one example I linked to.

    • Doreen Krajzel says:

      Hi;
      What fun it would be to create a story of what happened. How many different stories you would get! Are you up to a bit of fun? How would we do it? I am very interested in writing a short story about this apartment, perhaps a love affair would be included, and what happened to the lady who owned the dwelling. Anyone else interested? Love, Doreen

      • What I thought about doing last night, as I was laying in bed thinking about it, was what another blogger who went by the name, The Muse, used to do. I don’t know if she still blogs…she wrote beautiful poetry! Anyway, she would start a story and then let each person add a few lines (by leaving a comment) to continue the story. For example, I could put up a post tomorrow stating what we do know, the few facts we do have, and then I would start the story off with just a few lines…like 1 or 2 and each person would come along and add a few sentences, moving the story along. I was trying to decide last night, how many sentences we might limit each comment to, so everyone would get a chance to add something to the story. That’s one way to do it. Not sure how much participation we would get but it might be fun! 🙂 Kind of like this: http://foldingstory.com/help/

        • Doreen Krajzel says:

          Hi;
          What a wonderful idea, I have never heard of it before. Please go for it, what fun!! Love, Doreen

      • Doreen, the story is up today, come by and help us write it. 🙂

  39. I just read “The Paris Architect” – a wonderful book about Paris during the War – which made this even more interesting!

  40. Extraordinary!

  41. I would love to participate in any kind of interactive storytelling ideas you come up with, Susan. I like the one you described. You could also form a reasonable number of followers to each write a portion and everyone could vote on what they like; a little more complicated but whatever you decide if we take it seriously; do a little research there’s so much imagination among your followers I really think it could lead to a wonderfully creative activity and perhaps a really good novel! I’ll look for further posts about this. Let me know if I can help; just love the idea. Ann

  42. Just read this post & I’m still drooling over all the gorgeous items in the pictures! Wow! It would be so much fun to explore this gorgeous apartment with tons of treasures. I am most fascinated by the vanity/dresser & the items displayed on top. Perfume bottles – it even looks like there may be an couple of old Rose Valois bottles -(the ones that look like they have hats on top of the lid). Perfume bottles are my passion! There appears to be some decorative powder jars, too. I collect mini perfume bottles, & I love all the really old ones. If only I could see the bottles on that dresser better! Have you ever checked out the IPBA website or Passion for Perfume ? Both of these sites are a treasure trove of information (and you can spend a lot of time drooling over gorgeous vanity items). I use the IPBA (International Perfume Bottle Association) website to help identify old vanity items & get a history on them.

    The painting just makes you want to step back in time & go to search for someone to make an elegant dress like this dreamy one, try it on & stare at yourself in that unique mirror (oh, well – maybe when I was in my twenties, that is!). As always, I LOVE your posts & this is one of my very favorites!! THANK YOU!

    • Thanks so much, Sharon! I wish you could see them all up close, too because I’m dying to know what they are! Maybe eventually they will share more details about what’s in the apartment. Wonder if they are worried about theft. The dress truly is amazing! I love the painting.
      Stop back by later today (the 14th.) I’ve written kind of follow up post, something I had thought about doing and then decided to do when someone else mentioned it in the comments, too. You may want to join in. 🙂

  43. I read this quote just an hour or so ago never thinking of something like you’ve described.

    “I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”
    ― Beryl Markham, West with the Night

  44. Juanita in OH says:

    I haven’t picked my jaw up from the floor yet, what a magical post! This apartment is a real treasure, like traveling through a wonderful book or movie. I have such a LOVE affair with chairs…I certainly would LOVE to have the two embroidered side and arm chairs. I would also LOVE to read that pile of newspapers but, I’m sure they will disintegrate the moment they are touched. The green table is great also. TFS.

  45. I was in awe when I saw and read this site. If only the walls could talk, what a story they would have to tell. This beautiful space should be treated as a museum. I would fly there in a moment to have the opportunity to view this lovely, historic space. Thank you for posting this.

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