Last Updated on 3rd February 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
The devil is in the details, or so they say. Well, you’ll want to look closely at the architecture of a certain clothing store along Rue du Jour, a little alleyway hiding behind the ever-so-impressive Church Saint Eustache in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. After all, this is where you’ll find Hôtel de Royaumont on Rue du Jour, a former mansion house masquerading as a clothing store…
Not far from the oldest patisserie shop in Paris, and the Rue Montorgueil, a pedestrianised shopping street filled with independent grocery shops, Hôtel de Royaumont is a true glimpse into the past. All ornate design and with its own private courtyard, welcome to Paris of old… Other highlights of Rue du Jour include a Gothic-Renaissance Church and Musée du Barreau, a museum dedicated to lawyers.
Rue du Jour: a pretty street in the 1st arrondissement
If you’re looking for a pretty photo spot amidst the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the 1st arrondissement, a district well-known for the Louvre Museum, Jardin des Tuileries, and Palais Royal, then the Rue du Jour is the place to head to. Quiet and secluded in comparison with its busier neighbours, the mish-mash of architectural styles represented here make for the perfect photo backdrop.
Translated into English, Rue du Jour quite literally means Road of the Day. While this might seem like a strange kind of name for a street, the moniker originated around 1370 when Charles V would choose to stay on the road. Originally named ‘Rue du Séjour,’ the name was eventually changed to ‘Rue du Jour’.
Hôtel de Royaumont: The Mansion Masquerading as a Clothes Shop, No. 4 Rue du Jour
The Hotel Particulier is a peculiarity of the fabric of Paris. This term is used for the mansion houses that were largely constructed from the Middle Ages and right up until the 18th and 19th-centuries. Typically free-standing these private houses were where the richest of the town once lived and are prevalent in Le Marais district of the city.
Vintage postcard depicting the Hotel de Royaumont at the beginning of the 20th-century. Via Wikipedia
The Hotel de Royaumont is a particularly beautiful example of a Hotel Particulier and its history dates back to the 14th-century when the Royaumont Abbey acquired a house in the 1st arrondissement of Paris (hence the current name of the building).
What you actually see today was modelled on a mansion built under the orders of Philippe Hurault de Cheverny in 1612. Though the original house was unfortunately destroyed, the structure you now see on Rue du Jour is a faithful 1950s reproduction of the 17th-century building.
From around 1625 onwards, the construction was rented out to Count François de Montmorency-Bouteille, who would later go on to be beheaded. Eventually, the residence was confiscated and subsequently sold during the French Revolution.
Today, you’ll know you’re in the right place when you spot a grand entranceway in front of a shopfront. All Ionic columns and beautiful carving, this door is the only external entry to the old Hotel de Royaumont. Now, the arch is pretty to look at and is a place where you’ll find one of the ‘space invader mosaics’ that are so synonymous with Paris street art.
Eglise Saint-Eustache, No. 2 Rue du Jour
If you have some extra time while wandering around the Les Halles district of the city, then I highly recommend allocating some time to exploring the Saint Eustache church. Large and imposing, the history of this ecclesiastical building dates back to the 16th-century, though construction wasn’t actually completed until 1633.
As a result, the architecture of the building is a beautiful blend of Renaissance and Gothic designs. Free to enter, the crumbling interior is hauntingly beautiful with its classical frescoes (which are largely peeling from the walls, a result of plenty of damp!) and towering stained-glass windows.
Head to the centre of the church, and you’ll soon discover that with 8000 (!!) pipes, the organ is the largest in all of France. Another highlight of the Saint Eustache Church includes a chapel dedicated to butchers (Chapel des Charcutiers). Just like in the city of Limoges, butchers formed trade unions and these groups were, more often than note, organised around the church.
Former Hôtel de La Porte, Musée du Barreau (Museum of Lawyers), No. 25 Rue du Jour
Those in search for a smaller and unusual museum in Paris need to look no further than Musée du Barreau de Paris. Little known and even less visited, this cultural space belongs to an order of lawyers based in Paris. Based in a former mansion, the building dates back to the 17th-century.
Dedicated to the history of lawyers in France between the 17th-century and the 1960s, the collections pertain to everything from the Paris bar, to what life as a lawyer is like to various intricate details of the law. Open for groups upon request, you can find out more on the museum’s website.