Friday, April 30, 2010

PARIS: Hôtel de Beauvais

At number 68, rue François Miron, is the Hôtel de Beauvais, originally the home of Catherine Bellier, known as “One-Eyed Kate,” the lady-in-waiting who in 1654, at age 40, deflowered the 16-year-old future King Louis XIV - at the request of his mother! Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII, feared that her son might be frigid like his father, so she asked her principal servant, Catherine, to do the deed. Success! Madame Bellier was rewarded with a fortune, mostly to appease her spouse, Pierre Beauvais, who was outraged when he found out about the arrangement. She and her merchant husband were given a baronetcy, and thus made nobles. They purchased a city lot and built a magnificent edifice, where the 7-year-old Mozart later stayed with his father and sister in 1762, when the house was home to the Bavarian ambassador. It is worth seeking out the courtyard, which is even more impressive than the street façade. You may view the courtyard but not enter the building, which is occupied by administrative offices on the Court of Appeals. The courtyard photo above attests to the luxe digs enjoyed by the young Mozart.

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