Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

21 Rue Raynouard
The house that haunts me still

¬† This is an old photograph from World War One of a house that no longer exists except in memory. This house was donated by the Gautier and Hottinguer families during the war when the volunteer American Ambulance drivers needed a new home. We are looking at the back of the house as the front was amazingly deceptive, appearing to be a simple one story chateau. Once inside, an impossible staircase descended four levels to the back as the house was built on a hill sloping down to the Seine. The American Field Service (AFS) was born here and these brave men thankfully took photos and then wrote about this place long after the war was over. This house seemed to have a quality that none who entered its portals could ever forget. The more research I did on this beautiful place, the more intriguing and interesting it became. A mineral spring ran underneath the home in pre-Roman caverns and people came from far and wide to take the cure. Benjamin Franklin as ambassador to France lived next door and took the waters himself and performed his first lightning rod experiments here. Voltaire wrote one of his books in this home, Le Devin de Village. Ernest Hemmingway and Somerset Maugham served as ambulance drivers here as well as Louis Bromfield, an Ohio writer who at one time was more popular than Hemmingway. It was Bromfield who used this ancient chateau as the home of one of his characters. The way he described the house made me think that perhaps it was based on a real place as I knew he lived in Paris as a young man. The house was taking over my imagination. I had to find it. I knew it was real. The house, long forgotten was begging to come back to life. Now here’s the part that is really strange (in a cool way!). At one time this house boasted the largest park in all of Paris. The park was replaced by concrete as we continued to pave over paradise. When I began writing my book, I knew I wanted the house to be the main character and as I started my book a new park began to be constructed at the very site of the original park. Parc du Passy was born at the same time my creation began. It even has its own Facebook page! I did not know that the house had been destroyed and on my first trip back to Paris after the haunting, I ran down Rue Raynouard and cried on the streets when I saw an apartment building with a plaque on the wall dedicated to those brave volunteers. Later I found out that supposedly one can still go beneath the building and access those ancient tunnels leading to the fabled waters. As you see, I am still haunted and obsessed as all writers must be to do the crazy things we do and create the fantastic worlds we create for others to live in. Over time I began to think, what if the waters did something else? What if they had a special quality to them? That is how my first book Immortal Beauty began. What haunts you? What is your obsession? Find out more about the house and see more pics on Immortal Beauty’s Facebook page. The ebook is available on The sequel is being written now in the trilogy of The Immortals. Stay beautiful! Stay haunted! Immortality begins with you!