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Maison d’Ourcamps – A vestige of medieval Paris

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The Parisian house of Notre-D’Ourcamps Abbey

Maison d’Ourcamps was the townhouse of Notre-Dame d’Ourcamps, a Cistercian Abbey founded in the 12th century in the Oise department.

In the mid 13th century, the monks erected a townhouse on land encompassed within the current rue Francois Miron and rue Geoffroy-l'Asnier.

They used it as a warehouse in order to store the goods they produced in their abbey before selling them to the Parisians.

The building's 200m2 vaulted cellar served as storage and the ground-floor hall, supported by splendid pillars, was a shop; the upper floors housed the monks’ dormitory.

This first residence was demolished around 1585 and replaced by the current Maison d’Ourcamps.

However, the vast vaulted cellar was kept in order to dump the rubble that couldn’t be reused.

Some of these stones allowed historians and architects to recreate the appearance of the 13th century house.

Among them were the remains of the main facade’s arched windows, which apparently were placed in pairs.

Several sculptures and carved stones are now exhibited on the ground-floor hall.

Maison d'Ourcamps - Post Revolution

The monks were expelled at the French Revolution and La Maison d’ Ourcamps became national property.

Several merchants purchased it over time and drastically transformed it to suit their trade.

Their shop signs most likely left the building its two other names - Maison de Marsande and Maison de l’Ours.

However, La Maison d ‘Ourcamps’ different fortunes and recurrent lack of maintenance took its toll.

By the mid 20th century, it was part of a list of insalubrious buildings marked to be pulled down.

It fortunately escaped demolition, thanks to the Commission du Vieux Paris!

La Commission du Vieux Paris saved la Maison d’Ourcamps

La Maison d’Ourcamps today houses La Commission du Vieux Paris head office, an advisory committee created in 1897 and chaired by the Mayor of Paris.

The committee’s mission is to advise the City of Paris on the protection of the historical, archaeological, architectural and urban heritage.

Each month, its members therefore meet in order to review outstanding building permit applications, those filed the previous month and to track those in progress.

The recommendations they address to the Mayor of Paris are published in the Official Municipal Bulletin.

In the early 1960’s, La Maison d’Ourcamps was one of the buildings dedicated to demolition due to their state of squandering.

The committee protested against this decision and recommended their safeguarding.

After several months of deliberations, Paris City Council agreed to restore the neighbouring houses, but not La Maison d'Ourcamps, which it deemed too dilapidated.

However, the mayor authorized La Commission du Vieux Paris to renovate the building at its cost.

The restoration, conducted with the help of volunteers and private donations, led to the discovery of the 13th century superb vestiges.

As a result, the facade, roof and staircase were classed historical monuments in 1966.

The building's cellar is open to guided visits.

N.B. La Maison d'Ourcamps is almost opposite two other superb medieval houses considered the oldest in Paris

Directions: 4th district - nos44-46 rue François Miron
Metro: Hôtel-de-Ville on Line 1,11 or Saint-Paul on Line 1
Coordinates: Lat 48.855546 - Long 2.357089

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