9 Quai aux Fleurs, Paris - the perfect place for a marriage proposal


It's springtime in Paris! The flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing and you're ready to ask the most important question of your life: "Will you marry me?"

Strolling down the Quai aux Fleurs on the Ile de la Cité, you pause in front of an elegant 19th century mansion and point at the medallions of a man and woman framed by elaborate wrought iron decorations. "Who are they?" your beloved asks in a hushed tone. "They're Abélard and Héloïse, two lovers who promised to be forever one."



9 Quai aux Fleurs, Paris - Former home of Héloise and Abélard 1118. Rebuilt in 1849.

After telling the fascinating tale of Pierre Abélard and Héloïse d’Argenteuil in a blog post last May, I've wondered why people from around the world journey to Pere Lachaise Cemetery to pledge their undying love to each other in front of the couple's crypt. Wouldn't it be more romantic to visit the place where Abélard and Héloïse's story began in 1118?

But please don't think that Abélard and Héloïse's tale is only suitable for young lovers. After taking some middle-aged friends to 9 Quai aux Fleurs on Monday, I excused myself to let them enjoy the rest of the evening on their own. As we said our goodbyes, I turned to wave a final farewell. With their arms wrapped around each other, my visitors from Ohio didn't even notice. They only had eyes for each other. Love is in the air, everywhere I look around...!


Comments

  1. Oh I love these heads on the gates. I remember searching for them after reading about them in one of my Paris guide books. And what a gruesome story--strange what we call love.

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  2. I'm not surprised that you had to search for the heads. Did you ever find them? I ask because I had been hoping to stumble across the house ever since I first read about it. It didn't happen, mainly because I never walk down the Quais aux Fleurs. So, I was really pleased when we visited it during the tour of the 4th arrondissement.

    As far as being gruesome, Abelard's castration was certainly dreadful but their love for each endured even though they were unable to live together.

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  3. We will be staying down the street at #15 during our next trip. Will have to add that one to our list since we read about the storey researching the area. Of interest I used google view to check where is was in relation to our rental and noticed that the heads in the keystones above the doors have been blurred??

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    1. Isn't google street view great! I just took a look at the keystones and wonder why they're blurred. I can understand blurring peoples' faces for privacy but don't understand blurring Abelard and Heloise.

      #15 looks like a wonderful place to stay while visiting Paris. I'll be curious to hear about the restaurants, etc that you discover. We went to a wine bar near your apartment the other night. After noticing that La Reserve de Quasimodo at 4 rue Colombe is in a building that has housed a restaurant continuously since 1223, I took our friends there to check it out. It's a really casual place with a good atmosphere. And the prices are very reasonable. We ended up talking with two men from Avignon and having a delightful evening. If you go, be sure to take a look at the toilet.

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  4. Yes, that is rather a gruesome story, but there was a good bit of gruesomeness around in the past. I used to do a few lines about the day's saint in my blogs, but so many of them had such grisly ends that it made me feel ill doing the research about them, so I stopped!
    However, it's lovely they're reunited and inspiring other people to declare their love for each other.

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    1. Doesn't it make you thankful to be alive in 2012 instead of in the 12th century? Heloise was one of the few women who was lucky enough to receive an education. While doing some research about Abelard and Heloise, I came across some critical essays saying that it's probable that she is the real author of the letters written to Abelard. Scholars used to doubt that this was possible because they were too sophisticated. Heloise seems to have been an extraordinary woman.

      I like you idea of writing something about the saints but can understand why you wouldn't want to continue since so many of them suffered gruesome ends.

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  5. I have yet to visit Pere Lachaise but love your photos of this special spot. Although no matter what love story I'm not sure if I'd want a proposal there...

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    1. Pere Lachaise is well worth a visit, although I would go with a guide because the stories of some of its residents are fascinating.

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  6. Hi Mary Kay! I read Marion Meade's very atmospheric historical novel about Heloise and Abelard, "Stealing Heaven," when I was young and impressionable, so I made a beeline for H&A's tomb on my first visit to Paris. I think it's time I reread it.

    Here's the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Stealing-Heaven-The-Hera-Series/dp/1569470111

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    1. Thanks for telling me about "Stealing Heaven"! I kept thinking that someone should write a book in English about Abelard and Heloise but didn't have any idea that it already existed. I'm going to order it today!

      I hope to see you when you're next in Paris. If you haven't been to 9 Quai aux Fleurs, I'll give you a guided tour!

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