Located in one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in Paris, near the lovely Parc Monceau in the posh 8th arrondissement, this petite apartment is a rare survivor with most of its original architectural flourishes intact. Designed by architect Jules Lavirotte in 1906, the building was originally a hôtel particulier, the French term for a grand private townhouse or mansion, but was later converted to flats.
This flat is superbly situated on what’s called the étage noble, or noble floor. The what? The term takes its name from guidelines set out by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann. Beginning in 1853, Haussmann endeavored to change Paris into the city we know today, demolishing slums and medieval alleyways to create broad, elegant boulevards. For the new streets, Haussmann established a standard ratio between the height of the buildings and the width of the streets. Buildings, Haussmann said, should be no more than five stories high, and above the ground floor and the basement levels should be a “between” floor, with load-bearing walls, which would be the first floor. The next floor, the étage noble, should boast a wrought iron balcony and cut stonework around the windows, and have the highest ceilings and the most elegant rooms in the building.
Well, this flat certainly delivers on that promise. The ceilings in the living room soar to 18 feet and all the rooms pictured are undoubtedly elegant. The flat measures in at a modest 1,829 square feet, which includes the voluminous living room, a separate dining room, a kitchen (not pictured), a guest bedroom and bath, a laundry room. Off the upstairs gallery that overlooks the living room, the main bedroom includes a dressing room and bath. There is also storage space in the building’s cellar. Repped by Jean-Jospeh Pani at Sotheby’s International Realty, the apartment is asking about $4 million.
What is perhaps most lovely about this flat is that it has been updated and renovated with taste and style, and complemented by genuine Art Nouveau furniture and lighting. Even the carpets are period. On the front of the private mansion are floral sculptures commissioned by Lavirotte as decoration, executed by sculptor Léon Binet.
The architect, Jules Lavirotte (1864-1924), is one of the best-known French Art Nouveau architects. He won the city of Paris’s Concours de Façades architectural competition three times, including for this building. It was commissioned by music publisher Albert Noël, who owned the rights to reproduce Tchaikovsky’s work. Noël wanted to build a mansion for himself, with office space on the ground floor, reception rooms and lounges for concerts on the noble floor, and on the third floor, private apartments. Next door, he hired Lavirotte to build an apartment building as an investment property, which also still exists, although they’re mostly offices now.
The building began its life as a sublime space for intimate concerts and receptions, so we say to whomever buys it: make sure to put on some Tchaikovsky, pour a glass of absinthe, and relax, M. et Mme. le Acquéreur!