Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Truth is stranger than Fiction - Paris style

 Truth is stranger than fiction. Ok, we all know that. Something  that happens boggles your mind and you think if I wrote that no one would believe me. Et voilà here's my sort of truth is stranger than fiction moment. Or maybe as Oscar Wilde might have about this 'Life imitates Art'.

(Please forgive my screen shots - I couldn't figure out how to edit and then insert my photos in the blog! Next time I'll figure it out.)

In the Guardian Jon Henley, a great correspondent who I know,  wrote about the building that had intrigued me years ago when I was setting a story on this street. Here it is above with the windows bricked in, graffitied and basically abandoned. It intrigued me so much that I set a scene in a clinique across the street from it. I didn't murder anyone per se in the clinique but a Roma woman who was held there forcibly expired under dodgy medical care in Murder on the Champ de Mars. 

I'd discovered this clinique 'Maison de Sante St. Jean de Dieu' and 'Maison Agnes' in a charming old fashioned pocket that felt as if time and the snooty neighbors surrounding this rue Oudinot in the chichi 7th arrondissement had forgotten it. 

This also led to a back entry to a huge space in the ancient hospital grounds site of a 17th century kitchen garden left like a wilderness until a few years ago. Now it's manicured,  trellised and with an organic garden, new playground - and it's lovely - but I hanker for how it used to be. Because this is close to where the murder occurred - the real one - thirty years ago and my fictional character's demise it hit me. 

And it's almost around the corner from President Macron's residence at Hotel de Matignon and YSL's place. You know it's THAT kind of quartier. 

   But here's the story of the mummified corpse. 

Ok this is what the place looked like behind the bricked in windows.

From Jon's article:

"...a corpse that had been decomposing in the basement for 30 years, local media have reported...The vast but crumbling complex at 12 rue Oudinot in the heart of Paris had been empty for more than 30 years. Behind a bricked-off facade, Le Monde said, ivy sprouted from the cracked walls and broken shutters of four imposing buildings once lived in by the poet and playwright François Coppée. A once-elegant garden had been untended since the mid-1980s and was now completely overgrown. The stuff of estate agents’ dreams, the hôtel particulier – billed as “the last truly significant property in the capital’s most sought-after neighbourhood” – finally sold in January by its owners, a discreet Dutch company, at an auction that lasted barely 15 minutes. The buyer, Jean-Bernard Lafonta, paid €35.1m (£29.9m) – nearly six times the reserve price. Le Monde said the corpse, the discovery of which was only recently made public, came to light as workers removed a pile of planks and rubble in one of the mansion’s cellars. Traces of wounds including broken bones and knife cuts prompted police to open a murder investigation, the newspaper said. Papers found on the body allowed authorities to identify the man as Jean-Pierre Renaud, and his death was dated to about 30 years ago. “He was someone of no fixed abode, with a drink problem,” a police source told Le Monde. “We could imagine a fight with someone else living on the margin … But it’s unclear whether he died in the mansion or was brought there, and we may never find out who was responsible. It’s quite possible the murderer is himself now dead.”

    What do you think?

Cara - Tuesday




  1. Oh Cara, This is eerie! I know that very unlikely coincidences cans be nothing more than random events. But this one looks too much like clairvoyance on your part. Reading this made my scalp tingle—the way it has when I have found out that some aspect of historical fiction that I thought I had invented, on further research, later turned out to be true. OOOOH!

  2. Seems to me as if you may have yet ANOTHER mystery coming out of that location!