L'hôtel de Transylvanie

This splendid stone-and-brick Louis XIII residence has an unusual porch framed by pilasters.

It is Iocated in Pré aux Clercs, i.e., on the “meadow” that belonged in the year 1540 to the scholars of the University of Paris, and was built right on the filled-in channel connecting the Seine with the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Jacques de Hillerin began building it towards the year 1625, and its superb facade has not changed in any way since that time.

At the start of the l8th century, when Louis XIV was beginning the War of the Spanish Succession, the Prince of Transylvania, François Rakoczi, took refuge in France, where he was welcomed with great honour - sharing in the Court's pleasures and housing his retinue in this town house on quai Malaquais.

With royal protection, the Prince opened some gambling rooms in the mansion, which attracted the two characters in Prévost's famous novel: Manon Lescaut and Chevalier des Grieux, who later became the inspiration for the creation of Puccini's opera...

In 1720, Jacques de Hillerin sold the splendid residence, in which he was succeeded by the Duchess de Gramont, Count de Lautrec, the Noailles, the Fontaines de Biré, and then by the Marquise de Blocqueville - one of Musset's friends who used it to entertain Paris high society from the end of the Second Empire until the beginning of the Third Republic. Her sang-froid saved the town house from destruction during the Commune period.

The story had spread that the residence had belonged to minister Mazarin and there was a tunnel under the Seine to enable him to get to the Louvre, where Anne of Austria lived. She was the Queen of France and became the kingdom's regent at the death of her husband, Louis XIII. The “Fédérés” decided to fill that tunnel with gun-powder to blow it up.

But the Marquise dressed beautifully to welcome the officer and his attendants - disturbing visitors - as graciously as possible, as befit a “grande dame”. She was persuasive, appealing to their generosity and explaining how pointless such vandalism would be. They left, dazzled and delighted by her.

With such sumptuous surroundings and beautiful architecture, with the Seine and the Louvre on the near horizon, how could one resist the temptation to create an art gallery? This desire became reality in 1887, when an art publisher moved into the illustrious residence.

By 1929, Messieurs Bréheret and Prat, the founders, started exhibiting the original works of living artists. Since then, the gallery has become internationally reknown for the high quality of art it exhibits. Many world famous artists such as Picasso and Chagall, were exhibited at the gallery even before becoming well-known. Today this tradition continues with many of the artists represented by Gallery Bréheret present in major museum collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of New York, The Victoria and Albert Museum of London and the Museum of Modem Art of Paris, to name only a few. Bréheret Gallery is internationally known for the high quality and authenticity of the art it exhibits by contemporary artists.