Balzac in Passy or how to escape from creditors

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The entrance - ©Anecdotrip.com / CC-BY-NC-SA The entrance - ©Anecdotrip.com / CC-BY-NC-SA
Balzac museum Museum House Honoré de Balzac

"Wrote me to this address: monsieur de Breugnol, rue Basse, number 19 in Passy, near Paris", said Balzac to his friend Mrs Hanska in a letter (1840).

The writer was hard up! Harassed by his creditors, he was on the streets after his house in Sèvres (called Jardies) was seized. Balzac moved in Passy under an assumed name (his housekeeper name!), in this small house located rue Raynouard. He lived here 7 years: he wrote here the last part of his Comédie Humaine.

In the beginning of the 18th century, the current house was composed of buildings where lived wine-growers, here on the Passy hill. Next to those buildings was raised a town house, where lived Noël Hallé, painter of king Louis XV. The current museum is only a former detached house... After the French Revolution, they divided it into a 5 rooms' apartment.

This estate fell to several owners, until a butcher from Passy bought it in 1826. 14 years later, Balzac rent this house to this butcher. Passy was a village, but Balzac complained about daily life which was too expensive and about noisy neighbours: "5 proletarian families, with proletarian children" he wrote!

Our writer was alone, here; he spent his night finding inspiration, until dawn. He went to bed early, often at 6PM. So he set the alarm for 2 AM. He said: Levé à deux heures, je me suis couché à huit heures et demie, which means "Woke up at 2AM, I went to bed at 8AM" or Je me lève comme maintenant, n'ayant dormi que 4 heures, fiévreux, le corps dans l'état de celui d'un cheval fourbu, "I woke up, only slept 4 hours, feverish, feeling like a foundered horse."