Rue d’Auteuil was the main street of the village of Auteuil, until that village was divided up between Paris and Boulogne in 1860.
At that time more than half of Auteuil was incorporated into the city of Paris. This part is now the 61st administrative quarter of Paris and is the largest of the four quarters that make up the 16th arrondissement.
Auteuil (pronunciation here) is in the far southwest corner of Paris, on the right bank of the Seine. At some point I realized I had never even been to Auteuil, so in August 2015 I booked a hotel there and had a look around.
Auteuil has a large number of substantial-looking ornately-decorated stone buildings from the early 20th century, like this one on Rue d’Auteuil.
Unlike the Villa Montmorency, where only the ultra-rich can afford to live, the Villa Claude Lorrain is a somewhat more modest place where you could buy an apartment, assuming one was put up for sale, for an average of € 9310 per square meter, which is 2.7 % less than the average for Auteuil and 0.7 % less than the average for all of Paris. (Estimated prices as of 2019 by meilleursagents.com.)
The Villa Claude Lorrain is still a gated community, because it has a locked gate at the entrance, but it has no guards or warning signs. It was named after the painter Claude Gelée, better known as Claude Lorrain (1600-1678).
Villa Émile Meyer is another quite modest gated community in Auteuil. It was named after a man who once owned this piece of land. There are several more small gated communities, also called Villas, in this same general neighborhood at the south end of Auteuil.
Near the Villa Claude Lorrain and the Villa Émile Meyer is the old village cemetery of Auteuil, from the days before the village was divided up between Paris and Boulogne. It is a typical cemetery such as can be seen in small villages all over France: a bare plot of land with no trees or greenery, with many family graves close together and hardly any room to walk between them.
Here at what is now the corner of Rue d’Auteuil and Avenue Théophile Gautier is where the seventeenth century playwright Molière (1622-1673) once lived — not in this same house, which was built later, but in a smaller country house that was located here at the time.
Voltaire wrote seventy years later that Molière often used this country house “to recuperate from the fatigues of his profession, which are far greater than is usually thought.” This was not his only residence, however, since he always had an apartment near his theater in Paris.
No doubt Molière did a lot of writing out here in the countryside, but supposedly he also used his country house for wild parties such as the one shown in the play Le Banquet d’Auteuil by Jean-Marie Besset, which was widely discussed while it was being performed in Paris in the spring of 2015. I didn’t get to see Le Banquet d’Auteuil, so I can’t give a personal opinion, but it certainly drew attention to Molière’s country house in Auteuil and also to his alleged bisexuality.
See more posts on Molière.
I was glad to see that Auteuil has a street named after “Henri Heine, 1797-1856, German writer”. It took me a second to realize that this was Heinrich Heine, as he is known in Germany, but in France he was of course known as Henri. He lived in Paris for twenty-five years, at various addresses, but as far as I know he never lived in Auteuil (which at the time was not yet a part of Paris, anyway).
See more posts on Heinrich Heine.
Until 1864 this street in Auteuil was called Rue de Montmorency, but then it was re-named in honor of the Italian opera composer Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), who had spent many years in Paris and composed numerous operas in French for the Paris opera houses.
See more posts on the composer Gaetano Donizetti.
One of the big attractions of Auteuil has long been the Hippodrome (racecourse), which has been in operation since November 1, 1873. Apparently it was designed exclusively for steeplechase racing, in which the horses have to jump over obstacles such as fences, hedges and ditches.
According to the calendar to the right of the gate, races take place seven months of the year, in the spring (March-June) and the autumn (September-November), on four to six days in each of those months, for a total of 39 racing days per year.
If I have understood correctly, the price of admission is only € 5 on weekdays, € 8 on weekends and € 10 during major events. (Prices as of 2015.) It is also possible to take a guided tour on Sunday afternoons.
As I have never been to a horse race I can’t comment from personal experience, but this looks like a pleasant place to give it a try. Of course you can also bet on the horses, which could make the outing a lot more expensive.
Here at the southern tip of Auteuil is where the Seine River leaves Paris and enters the suburbs, with Boulogne-Billancourt on the right bank and Issy-les-Moulineaux on the left.
Looking across the Seine we can see Raboni, a building materials company, and the French headquarters of Microsoft. Both of these are in the town of Issy-les-Moulineaux.
On the boundary between the cities of Paris and Boulogne-Billancourt I came across an unusual sight, a car that had been destroyed by fire.
The unusual thing was not that the car had caught fire but that the authorities left it there by the side of the road long enough for the local taggers to tag it with their cans of spray paint.
My guess is that since the car was directly on the boundary, the two cities could not agree on who was responsible for its removal. Normally, wrecked and burned-out cars are whisked quickly out of sight because they are ugly and are in the way, and because motorists do not want to be reminded that they are driving around in dangerous and highly flammable vehicles.
As we all know from the television news, cars can easily catch fire when they are involved in a crash of some sort, but in France another common cause of car fires is arson, especially in certain suburbs of Paris and Strasbourg and especially on Saint-Sylvestre, which is the French name for New Year’s Eve. Apparently setting a car on fire is one of the easiest forms of vandalism — so easy that any child can do it, which explains why many of these crimes are committed by juveniles under the age of 16.
On New Year’s Day of 2016 I checked the French news media websites and found that “only” 804 vehicles had been set on fire in France the night before, down 14.5 % from the previous year. In some recent years there have been well over a thousand on New Year’s Eve alone.
My photos in this post are from 2015. I revised the text in 2019.
See more posts on the Paris quarter of Auteuil.