Essential Architecture-  Paris

Hôtel de Chenizot


Pierre de Vigny


51 Rue Saint-Louis-en-Ile, 4th.








Town House (hôtel) Now Museum.

This fabulous mansion is impossible to miss when you walk down the central street of Isle Saint-Louis. The recently-cleaned and heavily-ornamented façade contains all the important features of Rococo. Notice the excessive detail and curvaceous playfulness, so different from the geometric shapes of Baroque. What’s particularly fascinating about this style is that it has a fresh, light feeling despite its overwrought decoration. Here, the wonderful balcony is supported by absurd sea creatures and shells which show the “C” and “S” lines so important to Rococo. Rococo buildings often include flower, seashell, and bamboo stem motifs, while interior decoration reflected a fashion for the Far East with elaborate Chinese-inspired rooms and “singerie” patterns (walls painted with monkeys dressed in exotic costumes.) If the courtyard of this hôtel is open, walk through to admire the overall lines of the building, although behind the glorious facade, some of the apartments are sadly dilapidated. Through the doorway to the right, marked “E”, you’ll find the original curving staircase, complete with its dragon-ornamented banister. If the weather is warm, you can sit for a moment on the cool marble bench here at the foot of the stairs and think of the lovely allegories painted by Watteau. The Rococo rooms above you once would have echoed down these stairs with conversations about harmony, humanism, and the nature of beauty.


By Lisa Pasold (Special thanks to