Description : Description : Description : E:\\promenadeurop_fichiers/cabarrus.jpgA European walk through Bordeaux. 2.    


Through the Eyes of the Schopenhauers, 

Hôtel de la Molère ou "l'Hôtel de Fumel" -  Place Jean Jaurès et de la rue Esprit-des-Lois.

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Between 5 February and 24 March 1804, for “nearly two months,” the young Arthur Schopenhauer and his parents lodged at the Hôtel de Fumel at the corner of Place Richelieu (today Place Jean Jaurès) and Rue Esprit des Lois.

The building was erected between 1777 and 1779 for Jean-Baptiste de la Molère (1734-1808), advisor to the Parliament of Bordeaux. He hardly lived there, however, as he rented it out from September 1782, then emigrated in 1792 and set off for Santo Domingo. Confiscated as national property, the hotel was sold, then resold and finally bought by a caterer named Gabriel Salles. He created a bed-and-breakfast there that he called Hôtel de Fumel, perhaps in memory of Count Fumel, who had been mayor of Bordeaux in 1790 before being guillotined during the Reign of Terror. The establishment became one of the best in Bordeaux, welcoming all the distinguished visitors under the Empire, including Murat, King of Naples, in 1802 and three weeks later Junot, accompanied by his wife the Duchess of Abrantes, who would then return when her husband came back from his mission in Lisbon. Purchased from its owner by the person running the hotel in 1806, Hôtel de Fumel was then sold to the court after the death of its owner in 1820. In 1911, it became the property of the Société civile immobilière et commerciale du Sud-Ouest, which went on to become the Banque populaire du Sud-Ouest banking group in 1977.

On the morning of 5 February 1804, the Schopenhauer family boarded the city’s brigantine, used by travellers to cross amidst a multitude of boats of all sorts. It is here that they saw Bordeaux’s Port de la lune for the first time, a port named for its crescent moon shape that extends over the left bank of the Garonne. Johanna Schopenhauer is rapturous about her sighting: “Bordeaux stretched away from us in a vast semicircle at the very edge of the meander of this wide river... An absolutely enchanting sight.”

The description of her son, aged seventeen at the time, is very similar to her own. It is complementary, if not identical. On 5 February 1804, Arthur Schopenhauer, evermore concise but equally enthusiastic, writes: “This magnificent view of the most beautiful city in France took me by surprise. The spires of the city’s various steeples stand out against the skyline. It is a magnificent and most imposing picture.” He goes on: “The most beautiful area of Bordeaux is indeed its banks, as seen from the other side of the Garonne and whose view caught me so completely unawares.”

Johanna observed this other bank also, from the windows of her hotel in Place Richelieu: “We have arrived at Hôtel de Fumel, one of the town’s most beautiful houses, offering very comfortable and pleasant accommodation... we will never forget the months of spring, whose stealthy approach we would seek from its windows, advancing little by little from the end of February.”

The Schopenhauer family remained in Bordeaux until 24 March 1804. They walked often … …

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Head for Place de la Bourse  and stop in front of the fountain.



© Bertrand Favreau and Tyché Editions 2014

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