Most everyone has heard of the Seine River in Paris; but there is a smaller, lesser known Parisian river known as the ‘Bievre’ that used to run through the city before finally being swallowed up by the urban planners and entirely hidden beneath the concrete.
The ‘rue de Bievre’ used to run along the banks of the Bievre river up to the point where it emptied into the Seine. The street name first appears on a Paris map dated 1250 but the street, however, is most likely much older than the map itself. The most ancient streets of Paris go back to Roman times and although the street names have changed over the centuries, their layout has, in many cases, remained intact.
Unlike the present day rue St. Jacques just a few blocks away, which was (and still is) a major Roman thoroughfare, running in a straight line and connecting the Cite island on the Seine River to the Left Bank, the rue de Bievre was a minor thoroughfare, perhaps even a footpath, that paralleled the banks of the Bievre River. Although the river is no longer visible in Paris proper, the Bievre continues to run underground and its trace is still present in the leisurely curves of the street’s contours.
Destined to relative anonymity as a short, narrow, quiet street running between the Boulevard St. Germain and the Quai de la Tournelle, the rue de Bievre shot to fame once Francois Mitterand was elected president of France. Mitterand had his private residence on the street from 1972 until he died in 1995, and his widow still lives there. For the 14 years of Mitterand’s presidency, the street was cordoned off by policemen 24 hours a day. Now, with Mitterand long gone, the street has regained much of its former anonymity, all the while retaining the up market feel that resulted from such a long presidential presence.
Our NOTRE DAME BIEVRE flat is a very unique, charming place to stay. Accessible by elevator, the apartment is on the last 3 floors of a building that goes back to the 1600’s. An internal staircase joins the 3 floors together. From the upper floor where one bedroom is situated, there is not only a lovely view of the Pantheon dome on the hill south of the Seine, there is also a rooftop terrace where two can have breakfast or dine comfortably while viewing the rooftops of Paris.
One flight down in the middle story, there is a spacious master bedroom and the main bathroom, which is just across the stairway. Two twin beds can either be joined together as a king size bed or kept as two separate beds. Beamed ceilings throughout the flat add to the atmosphere of another era, while a few judiciously placed contemporary decorative and art elements keep you in touch with modern times.
On the lower floor, there is the large living room area, the dining area, the kitchen, and a separate toilet with a washbasin. Facing south, with the top floor terrace facing east, sunlight streams into the house for most of the day. The three large windows in the living room area make for a very light, airy atmosphere in an oasis of calm. There are not many major cities in the world like Paris where you can be in the very heart of the urban conglomeration while feeling as if you are in the countryside.
Equipped with cable TV, high speed internet Wi-Fi access, a phone that allows free phone calls to the USA, and sundry high end appliances (washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc), you should have everything you need to be completely self sufficient should you decide that the streets of Paris are not where you want to be. When you opt to join the world down below, you will find most everything at your fingertips: restaurants, bakeries, specialty food stores, and an everyday outdoor market on the Place Maubert. The Pantheon is just up the hill, Notre Dame Cathedral is right across the river, as is the Ile St. Louis, so when you are staying here, you cannot help but feel that the best of Paris is at your doorstep!
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