This story is several years old, but I just found out about it when a friend and neighbor sent me an article about it on Facebook.
I immediately became fascinated!
Above is a photo of an apartment located in the 9th arrondissement in Paris that no one had lived in or been inside of for 68 years. It remained just as it did back in 1942 when the owner, Madame de Florian, left it and never returned. She was 23 years-old at the time.
In the photo above, you can see the thick layer of dust that has been accumulating over 68 years. When the authorities first went in, there were cobwebs everywhere. “There was a smell of old dust,” said Olivier Choppin-Janvry, who made the discovery. This reminds me of Miss Havisham and her house in Great Expectations.
Madame de Florian was an actress and socialite who fled Paris in 1942 during the second world war. She felt that she would be safer outside of Paris. Madame de Florian never returned to her apartment, or Paris, yet she kept the apartment, and continued to pay the monthly “rental” fee until she passed away at age 91 in 2010.
I would imagine that originally Madame de Florian intended to return to her apartment after the war. She obviously built a more satisfying life for herself in the South of France. She obviously did not feel the need, or desire to return to Paris. Why didn’t she then give up the apartment and retrieve the family belongings, instead of keeping it all those years and paying the monthly “rental” fee?
I would have loved to go inside this apartment when it was first opened up after 68 years.
The furniture alone are exquisite treasures. I would love to have it all.
Behind a door and under thick layers of dust, several pieces or artwork were found.
The above painting is that of Madame de Florian’s grandmother Marthe de Florian. It was painted by Giovanni Boldini in 1898, when Marthe was 24 years-old. The painting recently sold for €2.1 million. Grandmother Marthe was an actress who had a long list of male admirers. Marthe kept the love letters from her admirers, which were found in the apartment. Her admirers included the married Giovanni Boldini and the 72nd Prime MInister of France, George Clemenceau.
Among the finds in the apartment is a stuffed ostrich and vintage Mickey Mouse. At the time, it was considered a sign of affluence to have taxidermy items such as the stuffed ostrich in one’s home.
I wish there were pictures of all the other rooms in this apartment. The kitchen has a stone sink and wood stove that I would love to see.
It was Marthe de Florian who first owned the apartment and lived in it during the 1890’s. Marthe left the apartment to her descendants who decided to keep it just the way Marthe had it. Marthe’s granddaughter was the last person to live in the flat before she fled to the South of France. Now just imagine that the door to this flat had not been opened in 68 years. I would have loved to be one of the people to enter in there for the first time after all those years.
Above is a photo of what the apartment location looks like today. (Photo Source)
The exact apartment building has not been released to the public, but we do know that it is in the 9th arrondissement, near the Trinité church in Paris between the Pigalle red light district and the Paris Opera house. Below are archival photographs of Trinite” Church and the Paris Opera House.
The apartment remains as part of Madame de Florian’s estate. At this time, there are no plans to sell it and it is not open to the public for tours. I could not find a single peace of information about Madame de Florian, not even her first name. I would like to know what she did with her life after leaving Paris. Did she ever marry and have children? Why is it that she never returned to Paris or the apartment, but continued to pay rent on it every month?