Start Jardin Alsace-Lorraine
Finish Gare Thiers
Time 2 hours
Good for Belle Epoque and Art Deco architecture, Jewish history
Points of Interest: La Rotonde, La Pergola, Palais Baréty, Hotel Oasis, Hotel Excelsior, Palais Meyerbeer, Post Office
Why do Americans in particular love the Quartier des Musiciens so much? I know many Americans who barely considered living in any other neighborhood! And, as you’ll read, Americans were among the first foreign tourists who flocked to the neighborhood in the late 19th century. They even built their own church (item number 8 in the Quartier des Musiciens walk).
It was such an Americanized neighborhood that there once was an American Consulate on boulevard Victor Hugo. But where? It’s an unsolved mystery. In 1927 newspapers reported that someone threw a bomb into the offices of the American Consulate on boulevard Victor Hugo to protest the guilty verdict against the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti. Diligent research (and I mean diligent) has failed to reveal the exact location of that Consulate. Even the US State Department was of no help. If anyone can shed light on the matter, please comment below!
I have also received local reports that the US Consulate was once lodged in the landmark Palais Baréty (photo at the top of the page and item number 9 on the Musiciens walk). I haven’t found documentary evidence of that, but I did find evidence that there was an American Consulate nearby at No 3 rue Doctor Barety in a building helpfully named “Le Consulat”.
Of course there are many excellent reasons for Americans and everyone else to adore the Quartier des Musiciens: the wide, tree-lined boulevards, its proximity to the train station and, above all the outstanding architecture.
It was in researching this walk that I discovered how much I preferred the clean lines of Art Deco to the more ornate Belle Epoque style. Who could not love this iconic building by George Dikansky (item number 1)?
Even if architects switched from carved friezes to painted mosaics primarily because it was cheaper, I still prefer the look.
Here’s another great use of color (item number 14):
As you follow the walk I hope your eye for architecture will sharpen and you’ll develop your own favorites. Let me know in the Comments section below!