Maison des Musiciens Italiens of Versailles!

And here happy to update this wonderful spot in my beloved and former home of Versailles. As I indulge myself in my beautiful royal town of Versailles and try my best to take you away from the palace/museum (hard to do I know) but there in town, there are so much punch as far as history, architecture and traditions to account for a lot more than what the general visiting public give to the town. Let me tell you about the house of the Italian musicians in a nice area of Versailles.

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The Maison des Musiciens Italiens or House of the Italians musicians in Versailles,  is a house of rocaille rock  style, erected in 1752 at No 15 rue Champ-Lagarde by Jacques Hardouin-Mansart , for the Countess of Argenson  separate wife of the count of Argenson. It is since 1986 the seat of the Union Compagnonnique des Compagnons du tour de France des devoirs unis (or something like the  Union of the Companions of the United Tour de France , that restores ancient buildings according to tradition) It is open all year round but for visits is on previous reservation only.

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A bit of history I like

Unlike a legend conveyed since the 19C, the present house is not the house originally created by the Italian castrates of Louis XIV. It is indeed the pleasure House of the Countess of Argenson erected at the site of the primitive house of the castrati, as evidenced by various deeds of property as well as documents recently discovered. Anyway, it is a wonderful house and museum to visit in the off the beaten path of my beloved Versailles.

The house in the period under king Louis XIV tells us that between 1686-1691 , the Italian castrato of the Chapel of the King, acquired several pieces of land in Montreuil, village located then near Versailles (today one of its districts, and where many nobles lived to be away from the hassles of the court near the Palace including many who later were kings like Louis XVIII (count of Artois) and Charles X ( count of Provence). In 1691, an ordinary officer of the King’s music chamber, gave as gift his nearby music pavilion, a pavilion that served as an embryo for the future house. This pavilion was then composed of a circular lounge covered, inside, a dome and tiles on the outside, open of 3 crossing and a window-door.  In 1708, this pavilion was increased by two lateral wings while the estate was fenced with walls. That same year, the property was bequeath  to the brothers and friends of the music guild, who had participated in its constitution.

The house under the reign of king Louis XV ,after the main owners of the music guild passed away in 1726, 1733 and 1740, the house  remained in the hands of the last two members Carli and Ridolfi, the last to come. They ceded the property in 1748 and again the house was ceded in 1751 to Anne Larcher, Countess of Argenson, the wife of Louis XV’s minister of war. The Countess of Argenson decided to have the pavilion fully rebuilt to her liking. This house was for the Countess, her residence in Versailles at the same time as her play house, according to the expression of the time, i.e. her party house . Indeed, she sheltered her love with the Marquis de Valfons, here. The Count of Argenson also had a gallant house in the village of Montreuil, on the side of Avenue de Saint-Cloud, where the Countess d’Estrades lived as his lover. The Countess de Marsan remained there from 1759 to 1776.

The house under the reign of king Louis XVI tells us that by 1776, the countess of Marsan gave the house to Louis-Guillaume Lemmonier, the first ordinary Doctor of the King and a professor of botany at the jardin des plantes in Paris, which made it one of the high places of the French botanical gardens of the 18C. Besides the various species of trees planted in the garden of the house, Lemmonier had a greenhouse at the end of it which he will constantly modify to accommodate his many varieties of plants, as evidenced by the inventory after the death of his wife in 1793. It is here that Lemmonier will trained several travelling botanists, especially André Michaux, who had first been plowing the farm of Satory (by rue de Satory off ave de Sceaux) in Versailles. The garden of Lemmonier will remain, until its dismantlement in the middle of the 19C, the botanical garden of the city of Versailles. It gave birth to the horticultural vocation of the village of Montreuil, which will remain until the mid-1960’s. Lemmonier, who also made the house, his residence in Versailles, established on the left flank of the courtyard, the buildings now visible whose extension on the side of the garden. Extension that contained the new dining room of the house today.

The house after the fall of king Louis XVI; by the time of the death of Lemmonier in 1799, the house passed on to his three nieces. The beautiful garden of their uncle was gradually dismantled from the 1800’s. The heirs of the latter, began the fragmentation of the estate so dearly constituted by Lemmonier;  it then encompassed almost the entire triangle formed by the streets rue Champs-Lagarde, rue Pasteur and rue des Condamines (very nice area in Versailles for a walk). The point of the triangle on the side of the current high school or lycée Rameau passed to the town in 1881 which establishes in the old greenhouses of Lemmonier, a school, greenhouses that will disappear in the 1950’s during the reconstruction of it. The house of the musicians  nowadays passed from hand to hand until its acquisition by the City of Versailles in December 1978; then house  passed on in May 1986 to the Union Compagnonnique des Compagnons du tour de France des devoirs unis as it stands today. Another off the beaten path of my beloved Versailles.

The Versailles tourist officehttps://www.versailles-tourisme.com/

The city of Versailles on the house, see in French « La “passion” du premier médecin de Louis XVI « : https://www.versailles.fr/ma-ville/versailles-ville-nature/biodiversite/curiosites-botaniques/#

And to show you once again, my Versailles is a lot more than the palace/museum 98% of you come to see when in Versailles. You need to spend more time and see more of glorious royal Versailles!

As the main sites are in French and for the benefit of those reading who do not speak French, I will tell you how to get the house from the palace/museum. Well ready! walk! the best way to see a city, go up from the place d’Armes in front of the palace/museum onwards on avenue de Paris, for about 24 minutes (guiding by google as me never counted) turn by the University of Versailles-Saint Quentin building on your left hand side is the beginning of rue Champ Lagarde a bit more on your left is the house at no 15. So better go all the way on foot, see more , enjoy Versailles more! Hope it helps,

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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