Forbin’s townhouse hosted upper crust! Like Louis XIV’s grandsons, dukes de Berry and de Bourgogne in 1701; the princess Caroline of Naples (1816) or the duke d’Angoulême (1830)… and Pauline Borghèse in 1806.
Ah, Pauline! Paolina Bonaparte, emperor Napoléon’s favourite sister, the most beautiful lady of her time! In the townhouse, she had a love affair with her lover, count Auguste de Forbin...
César de Milan, lord of Cornillon, councilor in the Parliament, raised the house in 1656. His son, Gabrielle de Forbin’s husband, extended it. Then the house fell to the Forbin-La Barben, by marriage. A famous Provencal family!
What about Auguste? Well, we was born in 1779: a talented (he painted), witty and handsome chap. He became general director of the French museums, then director of the Louvre in 1816. He extended the Parisian museum and even bought the famous painting Le Radeau de la Méduse in 1824, just after Géricault’s death, after years of insistence!
And with his artistic feeling, Auguste seduced ladies: his friend the viscount Siméon said about him (with jealousy?) he was ″elegant and noble, tall″, he had ″good-looking eyes″… Women all fell in love with him! But only one made his heart beating… Pauline!
Bonaparte’s protégé in Italy (where he studied art), Auguste became Napoléon’s chamberlain, then the one of Pauline. Love at first sight! She came in Aix in 1806, for thermal bathes, but she also met her lover in this townhouse…
The tradition says she complained about the courtyard poor decoration and put plants and flowers everywhere… And they also met in the castle of La Barben (family de Forbin’s estate)!
But in 1807, their love affair suddenly ended… maybe that Pauline’s husband, the count de Borghèse, learned about his wife’s lover? Meanwhile, Auguste was abruptly sent (coincidence?) in Portugal, in the army… And even if he married the pretty and rich countess de Dortan, he never forget her Paolina...